01 July 2014 – The French toxicological study of the long-term effects of the herbicide Roundup and GMO corn was republished in the scientific journal Environmental Sciences Europe, passing the third peer-review. The study has open access to raw data in contrast to GM studies that never present its original data to the public. The companies seeking approval for GM crops and pesticides usually keep the data under “commercial confidentiality” agreements between the company and the regulators. In conclusion, the French study calls the GM industry to start publishing complete data, and calls relevant agencies to enable public and independent research of the long-term toxicological and endocrine effects of GMOs and pesticides. Scientists ask whether the risk assessment for pesticides and GMOs is done correctly.
The study reaffirms the main conclusions from two years ago, when it was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. The conclusions are: the herbicide Roundup and Roundup tolerant GM organisms cause liver and kidney damage in rats, act as hormone disruptors and even in minute doses lead to the formation of tumors.
At the time of the first publication, in 2012 the Seralini study was the only long-term study of feeding rats with GMO corn, and its aim was to investigate the health risks of consuming GM corn Roundup Ready NK603. Rats were fed on NK603 that accounts for the majority of corn in U.S. processed foods. Rats developed massive mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage. Some of the developed tumors weighed 25% of the animals.
The study is significant because it lasted two years, while studies funded by the GM industry, which are submitted to regulatory agencies for authorization of GM crops, usually lasts up to 90 days. The study shows that most of the health issues in rats occur during the 13 month of feeding, tumors and liver damage in male rats start appearing after the fourth month of life, and after the seventh month of life in female rats. The industry GMO studies do not show similar results because they are too short in duration to notice such effects. As 13 months in rats lives coincide with the beginning of the fourth decade in humans, and GM food is mass marketed ten years (in the U.S.) it is likely that the effects of consuming GM foods do not fully exert on the human population.
The study also shows the negative effects of GM corn which was not sprayed with herbicide, showing the health danger of GM technology itself. It seems that the hypothesis “one gene – one protein” may not always be correct, and upon inserting genes into inert DNA zones (which do not code proteins and are considered worthless information) will probably disturb cell regulation. In late 2013, a team of scientists from the University of Washington (USA) have found another code within DNA molecules, the discovery was published in the journal Science. This is very dangerous for the GM industry because it shows that the industry is based on the wrong assumption according to which the alteration of DNA changes only proteins. It is now proven that GM manipulation changes the metabolism and regulation of the whole cell.
Immediately after the publication of the Seralini study an orchestrated media discrediting campaign started asking to retract the study from the journal. A few months before the final decision, the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal editorial board acquired a new position titled Associate Editor for Biotechnology, which was taken by Richard E. Goodman. Goodman is a former Monsanto employee (1997-2004) where he worked on allergenicity tests of GMO crops and published articles for the company on security issues regarding GM food. Goodman is associated with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), the later founded by the agro-chemical companies, including Monsanto. ILSI is known for having developed industry-friendly risk assessment methods for GM foods and chemicals, and the same methods are accepted by institutions and regulators. Since journal editors have a lot of power in science, Goodman will surely prevent a future “Seralini affair” from happening.
In November 2013, the publisher Elsevier decided to withdraw Seralini study as “inconclusive”, regardless of the fact that the study was reviewed by twice the number of peer-reviewers prior to publication, and it was intensively examined for one year after publication.
Ultimately, the study was not retracted due to errors, deceiving or misinterpretation of data. The only reasons for retraction may be: clear evidence of data fabrication, errors, plagiarism, or unethical conduct – and there is none in the Seralini study. The study has been withdrawn because it shook up the biotechnology dogma which claims that GM organisms and GM foods are safe and nutritionally equivalent to conventionally produced food. The Seralini study openly questions the results of the Monsanto study for approval of GM corn NK603, and this is Seralini biggest “error”.
The media widely rambled about the alleged errors in the Seralini study in order to discredit it, the main two being:
- Seralini was accused of using a cancer-prone rat, some researchers said that the Sprague-Dawley rat line is very susceptible to tumors, and thus easily leads to bias in results. However, in the study for GM corn NK603 approval Monsanto used the same line of rats, and Sprague-Dawley rats have been used repeatedly in toxicology and carcinogenesis trials, including long-term ones. The regulatory agencies did not have any objections when approving the pesticide glyphosate – Sprague-Dawley rats were used. After all, testing toxic substances on animals that are not sensitive – does not make sense.
- Opponents argued that Seralini used too few rats/experimental animals, which would be right if Seralini set out to look for tumors. But his intent was to investigate chronic toxicity, and by doing that he found an increased number of tumors. Given the clear results of the French study, the regulatory agencies should be on Monsanto to conduct full-scale carcinogenicity studies using increased number of rats to prove that its GMOs are safe – which has not been done yet.
The Seralini study has the best facts about the toxic effects of GM foods on experimental animals. It is conducted respecting a higher standard than Monsanto’s studies. Therefore, if the Seralini study is insufficient to prove the dangers of GMOs, then those carried out by Monsanto can not prove the safety of GMOs.
Mercola J.: Genetic Fallacy: How Pesticide Companies silence scientific dissent, 21 Feb 2014., Waking Times wakingtimes.com
Biotech lobby’s fingertips over new EU proposal to allow national GMO bans, 27 May 2014., Corporate Europe Observatory, corporateeurope.org
French study on Roundup and GM maize re-republished, 24 Jun 2014., Stop the Crop, stopthecrop.org
Robinson C., Lantham J.: The Goodman affair Monsanto targets the heart of science, 20 May 2013., Independent Science News independentsciencenews.org
Matthews J.: Smelling a corporate war, 11 Dec 2012., Spin Watch, spinwatch.org