– Reactions to Republication of Landmark Seralini GMO Study (Sustainable Pulse, June 24, 2014):
Sustainable Pulse welcomes the republication of the Séralini et al. study on the “Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” by Environmental Sciences Europe.
Find all the details regarding the republication here.
We will include reactions from organizations and experts to the republication below:
ENSSER: The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility
RE-PUBLICATION of the Séralini et al. study on the “Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”
ENSSER welcomes the re-publication of the data from the long-term rat feeding study with herbicide-tolerant NK603 maize and the associated Roundup herbicide plus the publication of the raw data by the researchers of Professor Séralini’s group. This study follows up on the Monsanto study submitted to the European regulator in support of its safety declaration for commercial approval. The study used the same type of rats as used by Monsanto. They were fed with Roundup-tolerant NK603 genetically modified (GM) maize (11% of the diet), cultivated with or without the application of Roundup together with Roundup alone (0.1 ppb of the full pesticide containing glyphosate and adjuvants) in drinking water for 2 years. EFSA accepts rat-feeding studies that are terminated after only 90 days, which constitutes a fraction of the entire lifespan of rats and, thus, addresses only short-term toxicity. Séralini and colleagues extended this period to a full lifespan in order to study chronic long term effects.
The most significant results of the extended study by Séralini and colleagues are signs of toxicity for all treatments GM maize sprayed and unsprayed with Roundup- and Roundup-only treatments. Most of these signs occurred after 90 days. Biochemical analyses confirmed chronic kidney problems for all the treatments, for both sexes and also a higher number of severe liver problems. In females, all treatment groups showed a two- to threefold increase in mortality, and deaths occurred earlier. This difference was also evident in three male groups fed with GM maize. All results were hormone- and sex-dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable. Last but not least, females developed large mammary tumors more frequently and earlier than the controls; the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by consumption of GM maize and Roundup treatments. These data are worrying and call for follow-up studies designed to further consolidate whether these signs of toxicity are indeed proof of toxicity. These data must be contextualized with recently published data by other independent researchers in South America and Europe, releasing data that require us to re-consider previous toxicity evaluations of Roundup and Glyphosate.
When originally published in the Elsevier journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) in September 2012, a global campaign was launched within days by the GM industry and their associated scientists, and their sole aim was to ‘shoot the messenger’ hoping that the data will thus be invalidated. In an accompanying comment piece, now also being published, the team of Séralini and colleagues put the events that followed publication of their report on record. Here, they also address “conflicts of interest, confidentiality and censorship in health risk assessment” which ultimately resulted in the retraction of the paper over a year later after an ex-Monsanto employee was installed as associate editor. The retraction was accompanied by a statement of the editor-in-chief Hayes asserting that there was no fraud, no misconduct or anything else wrong with the Séralini study other than the supposed ‘inconclusiveness’ of the data in the eyes of an shadowy group of scientists assembled for an undisclosed post-publication re-evaluation. This unprecedented move by FCT was challenged and has now been corrected.
Scientific progress is only possible if research is conducted in an open fashion and research data is subjected to fair and critical (preferably transparent) peer-review and is subsequently put on record by being published in the scientific literature allowing then for a discourse of that research data and its various interpretations. While this holds true for all fields of science, it is a fundamental prerequisite for scientific progress when it comes to data that is relevant to environmental and human health. While scientific technological interventions have generated great benefits for human societies and contributed significantly to human progress, history has also shown over and over again, that research that lacks rigour regarding the safety and long term consequences of these technological interventions has caused massive suffering and destruction of environmental and human health. This has cancelled out many or all of their earlier benefits in a manner that could have been avoided if the initial research had been more rigorous.
This attempt to censor inconvenient research data and suppress critical scientific discourse should have no place in the 21st century world. We face a convergence of massive environmental and social problems that put the collective well-being of humanity at risk. This is in many ways the result of the premature and injudicious release of technological interventions without proper safety evaluation for long term consequences. Solving these converging crises will fundamentally hinge on a critical scientific discourse and collective reflection. We need a debate about the various trajectories for progress. This should be informed by rigorous and independent (i.e. technology- disinterested) assessment of technology risks from various perspectives.
 Paganelli A, Gnazzo V, Acosta H, Lopez SL and Carrasco AD. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signalling. Chem Res Toxicol, August 9. pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/tx1001749
Gene Ethics, Australia
The long term Seralini experiments which found rats are harmed by Roundup and GM maize has been vindicated. It is republished today in the Journal “Environmental Sciences Europe”, published by the Springer Group
“Today’s republication of the Seralini study is a vindication of sound independent science, the scientific method and the system of scientific publication,” says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.
“The editors of the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal retracted the peer-reviewed study under extreme duress from a coterie of corporate interests and their scientific lackeys.
“But the grounds for retraction were nonsense as they did not conform with the agreed rules for retractions and erased the validity of all scientific peer-review processes.
“In trying to justify his retraction, the Editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology wrote:
“A careful and time-consuming analysis found that the data were inconclusive, and therefore the conclusions described in the article were unreliable. Accordingly, the article was retracted.”
“But the findings of all published and peer-reviewed papers are inconclusive as they must open to review and refutation. If not, they would not be the products of scientific inquiry which is always a work in progress,” says Phelps.
“Seralini’s team and their methodology were found to be honest and sound. If they had been faulty, that would have been good grounds for the retraction.
“Seralini found that GM maize and residues of the Roundup herbicide sprayed on the crop were toxic to the laboratory rats and their findings are now validated by this republication in a very reputable journal.
“The onus of proof for the safety and efficacy of GM crops and foods should rest with the GM industry but Seralini paper’s results show up the flaws in corporate research.
“Their smaller sample sizes, shorter 90 day duration, and lack of independence also cast doubt on the validity of GM crop and food approvals which rely mostly on corporate data.
“It’s now clear that some varieties of GM foods and toxic chemical residues harm experimental animals and probably us too and this should be grounds for reviewing these product approvals.
“We call on our governments to remove GM foods and toxic chemical residues from the human food supply,” Mr Phelps concludes.
Comments from scientists
Dr. Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist based in London, commented, “Few studies would survive such intensive scrutiny by fellow scientists. The republication of the study after three expert reviews is a testament to its rigour, as well as to the integrity of the researchers.
“If anyone still doubts the quality of this study, they should simply read the republished paper. The science speaks for itself.
“If even then they refuse to accept the results, they should launch their own research study on these two toxic products that have now been in the human food and animal feed chain for many years.”
Dr Jack A Heinemann, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Canterbury New Zealand, called the republication “an important demonstration of the resilience of the scientific community”. Dr Heinemann continued, “The first publication of these results revealed some of the viciousness that can be unleashed on researchers presenting uncomfortable findings. I applaud Environmental Sciences Europe for submitting the work to yet another round of rigorous blind peer review and then bravely standing by the process and the recommendations of its reviewers, especially after witnessing the events surrounding the first publication.
“This study has arguably prevailed through the most comprehensive and independent review process to which any scientific study on GMOs has ever been subjected.
“The work provides important new knowledge that must be taken into account by the community that evaluates and reports upon the risks of genetically modified organisms, indeed upon all sources of pesticide in our food and feed chains. In time these findings must be verified by repetition or challenged by superior experimentation. In my view, nothing constructive for risk assessment or promotion of GM biotechnology has been achieved by attempting to expunge these data from the public record.”