In November 2012, The Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology published a paper titled ‘Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize’ by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his team of researchers at France’s Caen University. (1) It was a very significant study, which obviously looks bad for the big bio tech companies like Monsanto, being the first and only long term study under controlled conditions examining the possible effects of a diet of GMO maize treated with Monsanto roundup herbicide. The Journal has recently requested that professor Seralini retract his study, and the professor has denied to do so, stating that there was no fraud and the scientific research within the study is totally legitimate.
After completion of the research, the work went through a rigorous review process and was approved for publication after a four month review process by scientists and researchers regarding methodology and more. Seralini and his researchers tested more than 200 rats who were given a diet of GMO corn over a period of two years at a cost of 3 million Euros.
Due to the displeasure of the bio tech industry, the study received worldwide attention as pictures with rats and their tumors showed up everywhere. I would like to mention that we do not support animal testing, and feel it to be completely unnecessary. We already have a large amount of information and plenty of evidence that supports the fact that GMOs can possibly pose a threat to human health and Earth’s environment, we don’t need to harm animals anymore (and never did) to see that.
Before we go into further detail, I wanted to make it clear that despite this retraction request by the this journal, there have been other studies linking GMOs as well as roundup herbicide to multiple health ailments. Just because one study is retracted does not mean we should ignore it or the multitude of other studies out there that prove GMOs should be a no go. I think it’s also important to note that the journal has ties with Monsanto, which will be elaborated on later in the article.
For example, a study conducted by the Environmental Toxicology Program at the Chulabhorn Graduate Institute in Bangkok, Thailand showed Roundup herbicide, also known as glyphosate, to be a potential endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the hormone system in mammals. These disruptors can cause developmental disorders, birth defects and cancer tumors. The study found that glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells via estrogen receptors.(2)
Glyphosate exerted proliferative effects only in human hormone-dependent breast cancer. We found that glyphosate exhibited a weaker estrogenic activity than estradiol. Furthermore, this study demonstrated the additive estrogenic effects of glyphosate and genisein which implied that the use of glyphosate-contaminated soybean products as dietary supplements may pose a risk of breast cancer because of their potential additive estrogenicity(2)
Furthermore, A group of scientists put together a comprehensive review of existing data that shows how European regulators have known that Monsanto’s glyphosate causes a number of birth malformations since at least 2002. Regulators misled the public about glyphosate’s safety, and in Germany the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety told the European Commission that there was no evidence to suggest that glyphosate causes birth defects.(3)(4)
Another study done by Earth Open Sources, which is an organization that uses open source collaboration to advance sustainable food production. put together a comprehensive review of the peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting the serious health hazards posed by glyphosate. The report was headed by Dr M. Antoniou, Head Gene Expression and Therapy Group, from the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at King’s College London School of Medicine, UK. Dr. Antoniou was joined by 6 other doctors who have a similar biography.(3)
Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable. In this report, we examine the industry studies and regulatory documents that led to the approval of glyphosate. We show that industry and regulators knew as long ago as the 1980s and 1990s that glyphosate causes malformation – but that this information was not made public. We demonstrate how EU regulators reasoned their way from clear evidence of glyphosate’s teratogenicity in industry’s own studies to a conclusion that minimized these findings in the EU Commission’s final review report (3)
It doesn’t stop there, studies have linked Glyphosate to Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease, as well as Autism. When you ingest Glyphosate, you are in essence altering the chemistry of your body. It’s completely unnatural and the body doesn’t resonate with it. P450 (CYP) is the gene pathway disrupted when the body takes in Glyphosate.(3)(5) P450 creates enzymes that assist with the formation of molecules in cells, as well as breaking them down. CYP enzymes are abundant and have many important functions. They are responsible for detoxifying xenobiotics from the body, things like the various chemicals found in pesticides, drugs and carcinogens. Glyphosate inhibits the CYP enzymes. The CYP pathway is critical for normal, natural functioning of multiple biological systems within our bodies. Because humans that’ve been exposed to glyphosate have a drop in amino acid tryptophan levels, they do not have the necessary active signalling of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with weight gain, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.(5)
For any paper to be published in a journal such as this one, it must go through a rigorous approval process. I wanted to make it clear that there are hundreds of studies that outline the potential harm of GMOs as well as the herbicides that go with them, by presenting just a few of them. Just because the journal is trying to retract this one, does not mean there is no legitimacy behind the fact that GMOs are dangerous and it’s clear that most people around the world want nothing to do with them. That’s why we are seeing such a global opposition against GMOs, and that’s why they are banned in the majority of countries around the world.
It’s also important to note that Professor Seralini has refused to retract his GMO tumor study (as mentioned in the title). Again, rigid criteria exist for a serious scientific journal to accept a peer-reviewed paper and to publish it. There also exists strict criteria by which such an article can be withdrawn after publication. He suggested that rats fed over a lifetime with GM maize NK603, tolerant to the herbicide Roundup and manufactured by the US company Monsanto, developed more tumors and diseases. I think it’s also important to mention that the associate editor of the journal is Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto scientist and supporter, as well as an affiliate of the GMO funded industry group.(0)(7)(9)
No fraud or manipulation of data
It’s also important to mention that there was no fraud or manipulation of data. The reason for retraction is because ”the results are inconclusive and therefore do not reach the threshold needed for publication” and “there is a legitimate reason for concern about both the number of animals tested in each group and the particular strain of rat selected,” he explains in a letter to the researcher at the University of Caen which Science and the Future has seen.(6)
Seralini has responded in saying that the retraction request of the journal is illicit, unscientific and unethical. The grounds for retracting a published paper are:
- Clear evidence that the findings are unreliable due to misconduct (eg data fabrication) or honest error
- Plagiarism or redundant publication
- Unethical research
There was nothing to suggest or show that Seralini’s research was as above, his work does not even meet any of this criteria and the chief editor of the journal even admits as much. In his letter informing Prof Séralini of his decision, Hayes concedes that an examination of Prof Séralini’s raw data showed “no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data” and nothing “incorrect” about the data.(7) Hayes states that the retraction is solely based on the “inconclusive” nature of the findings on tumours and mortality, given the relatively low number of rats used and the choice of rat strain, which Hayes says naturally has a “high incidence of tumours”.Crucially, however, inconclusiveness of findings is not a valid ground for retraction. Numerous published scientific papers contain inconclusive findings, which are often mixed in with findings that can be presented with more certainty. It is for future researchers to build on the findings and refine scientific understanding of any uncertainties.
Inconclusiveness of findings is not a valid ground for retraction. Numerous published scientific papers contain inconclusive findings, which are often mixed in with findings that can be presented with more certainty. It is for future researchers to build on the findings and refine scientific understanding of any uncertainties. (8) – Clair Robinson of GM Watch
The criticisms of the low number of rats and choice of rat strain have been addressed by Prof Séralini’s team in a comprehensive response to critics that was published in FCT, as well as by independent scientists writing in support of the study.
There is a large contraversy surrounding this story, perhaps an attempt to ridicule a very significant anti-GMO study? Maybe,
Monsanto and the related GMO industry immediately went on a war footing to control the potentially fatal damage from the Seralini study. Suddenly, with worldwide attention to the new Seralini results, the EU Commission and its EFSA was under fire as never in their history. How they reacted was worthy of a bad copy of an Agatha Christie murder novel. They piously announced that they had passed the Seralini study on to their EFSA scientific panel for evaluation.(7)
It’s not just alternative media outlets speaking up against GMOs. Geneticist David Suzuki recently expressed his opinion that human beings “are part of a massive experiment,” and he was referring to GMOs. Dr. Thierry Vrain, a former Canadian Government scientist has also been spreading the word, among many others.