Journal retracts controversial GMO cancer study

December 1, 2013 by Monte Morin

The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology is retracting a highly controversial French study it published last year linking genetically modified maize to cancerous tumors in rats.

In a statement released from its Cambridge, Mass., offices on Thursday, publisher Elsevier said that upon closer review of the paper, editors determined that the experimental sample was too small to allow for clear conclusions.

Also, the type of rat involved in the experiment is known for high incidence of tumors, it said.

"Unequivocally, the editor in chief found no evidence or fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data," the statement read. "However, there is legitimate cause for concern regarding both the number of animals in each study group and the particular strain selected."

The paper, titled "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize," was published on Sept. 19, 2012.

It was quickly embraced by opponents of genetically altered foods and stoked debate over California's failed Proposition 37, which sought to require labeling for foods.

The research was led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, a professor at the University of Caen and founder of the nonprofit Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering.

On Friday, study authors said they were standing by their findings. They called the publisher's criticisms "unacceptable" and accused the journal of exercising double standards.

The researchers had studied 200 Sprague-Dawley rats, which were divided into groups and given different diets. A number were fed Monsanto Co.'s Roundup-resistant corn.

At the time the study appeared, geneticists were quick to criticize its sampling size and other methodologies.

On Thursday, Elsevier said that because of the controversy surrounding the study's findings, the journal's top editor made the rare request to review the authors' raw data, and that the researchers willingly complied.

"The low number of animals had been identified as a cause for concern during the initial review process, but the peer review decision ultimately weighed that the work still had merit despite this limitation," the Elsevier statement sad.

"A more in-depth look at the revealed that no definitive conclusions can be reached with this small sample size regarding the role of either NK603 or glyphosate in regards to overall mortality or tumor incidence. Given the known high incidence of tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat, normal variability cannot be excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence observed in the treated groups," the statement read.

Explore further: Six French academies dismiss study linking GM corn to cancer (Update 2)

Related Stories

Six French academies dismiss study linking GM corn to cancer (Update 2)

October 19, 2012
A controversial study that linked genetically modified corn to cancer in lab rats is a "scientific non-event," six French scientific academies said on Friday.

EU rejects French scientist report linking GM corn to cancer

October 4, 2012
The European Food Safety Authority said Thursday it cannot accept an "inadequate" report by a French scientist on a link between cancer and genetically modified corn.

EU rejects French report linking GM corn to cancer (Update 2)

November 28, 2012
The EU's food safety agency definitively rejected Wednesday a bombshell French report linking genetically modified corn to cancer, saying it failed to meet "acceptable scientific standards."

France will push for GM ban if cancer threat confirmed (Update)

September 20, 2012
France will seek an immediate EU ban on imports of a genetically-modified corn made by Monsanto if a study linking it to cancer in rats is deemed credible, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Physical activity could combat fatigue, cognitive decline in cancer survivors

July 25, 2017
A new study indicates that cancer patients and survivors have a ready weapon against fatigue and "chemo brain": a brisk walk.

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

New therapeutic approach for difficult-to-treat subtype of ovarian cancer identified

July 24, 2017
A potential new therapeutic strategy for a difficult-to-treat form of ovarian cancer has been discovered by Wistar scientists. The findings were published online in Nature Cell Biology.

Immune cells the missing ingredient in new bladder cancer treatment

July 24, 2017
New research offers a possible explanation for why a new type of cancer treatment hasn't been working as expected against bladder cancer.

Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent inhibits glioblastoma growth and radiation resistance

July 24, 2017
Glioblastoma is a primary brain tumor with dismal survival rates, even after treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. A small subpopulation of tumor cells—glioma stem cells—is responsible for glioblastoma's ...

9 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

____________
Dec 01, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
BikeToAustralia
1 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2013
More data, call in the Pied Piper and don't tell the GMO creaters. Oh wait, these rats are genetically modified organisms, right?
goracle
1 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2013
Did Michael Mann switch to genetics now? Ah, no it's not him, just his Greenpeace buddies. Alas, fraud is still rewarded in climate science, to his million dollar a year advantage.

We should listen to the fact-less opinion of someone who cannot stay even remotely on topic?
____________
Dec 02, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
____________
Dec 02, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
____________
Dec 02, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
goracle
1 / 5 (5) Dec 02, 2013
@ ______________ does more than underscore, he/she scrapes the bottom with more off-topic drivel siphoned from the anti-science denialsphere.
Anyone who actually believes that multiple comments about climate science on a a story about a specific study about Genetically Modified Organisms is somehow on-topic, is serious deluded. It's more likely that they will take any opportunity to smear, distort and hijack a thread.
This article is about a study of GMOs.
Your comments are NOT about that study or about GMOs.
____________
Dec 02, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
____________
Dec 02, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.