Biotechnology

Retracted Junk Science Study Claiming Biotech Corn Causes Cancer In Rats Republished Without Peer Review

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GMOCorn
Forbes

In 2012, anti-biotech activist Gilles-Eric Seralini managed to get his seriously flawed study in which he claimed that feeding rats biotech corn caused them to develop tumors. Naturally, the anti-GMO claque hailed it. The study was severely criticized by researchers representing leading toxicological science organizations. As Nature reported:

Last week, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, and Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin both issued initial assessments slamming the paper, bluntly asserting that its conclusions are not supported by the data presented. "The design, reporting and analysis of the study, as outlined in the paper, are inadequate," says the EFSA in a press release, adding that the paper is "of insufficient scientific quality to be considered as valid for risk assessment".

In light of those criticisms, the editor of the journal in which it was published chose to retract it last fall. The retraction most likely affected the sales of Seralini's book and associated documentary, both entitled, Tous Cobayes (All Guinea Pigs). Seralini has managed to find another less rigorous journal in which to republish his flawed study, Environmental Sciences Europe.

The anti-biotechies are treating the republication as an activist triumph over corporate suppression of science. It is, instead, a very sad commentary on how the producers of flawed science can search around to find some obscure journal or other in which to publish their junk findings. The progressive news/activist website Alternet features an article from The Ecologist that claims:

A highly controversial paper by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues has been republished after a stringent peer review process.

Similarly Mother Earth News reports:

The republication restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists.

Stringent peer-review? False. The study was not, in fact, peer-reviewed by Environmental Sciences Europe. So why would folks assert that it was? Largely because of the press materials released by Seralini himself making that claim. Nature reports what actually happened:

Environmental Sciences Europe (ESEU) decided to re-publish the paper to give the scientific community guaranteed long-term access to the data in the retracted paper, editor-in-chief Henner Hollert told Nature. "We were Springer Publishing's first open access journal on the environment, and are a platform for discussion on science and regulation at a European and regional level." ESEU conducted no scientific peer review, he adds, "because this had already been conducted by Food and Chemical Toxicology, and had concluded there had been no fraud nor misrepresentation." The role of the three reviewers hired by ESEU was to check that there had been no change in the scientific content of the paper, Hollert adds.

One of the proprietors of the Retraction Watch website summarized the sorry situation well in response to a CBS News query:

"This whole episode has taken us farther away from knowing the truth," Ivan Oransky, a founder and editor of retractionwatch.com, told CBS News.

"The ratio of politics to science when it comes to discussions of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] is so high that I think it often ceases to be useful," said Oransky, a journalist with a medical degree who is also vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today.

He also said:

"This is a good example of what happens when people with hardened beliefs manipulate a system for the result they want," Oransky told CBS News. "Science should be about following the evidence, appropriately changing your mind if the evidence warrants it. But in this case people seem to reject the evidence that doesn't suit their needs."

With regard to rejecting evidence that doesn't suit activist needs, see my article, "A Tale of Two Scientific Consensuses."

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  1. It is, instead, a very sad commentary on how the producers of flawed science can search around to find some obscure journal or other in which to publish their junk findings.

    And a very real unintended consequence of government-funded science and the (false) credentialism it breeds. While I dislike the anti-GMO crowd, I can’t fault them too heavily for exploiting the flaws in the system as it exists.

    1. I can fault anyone, whether I like them or not, for peddling lies.

      1. It’s a bit of a “tails up, I’m right, heads down, you’re right” situation, but I think Seralini believes in the work he’s doing. He’s certainly forthright and honest about his data, methods, and conclusions.

        I think he’s wrong, but he’s free to talk about it. The state handing him a megaphone with Nature or Environmental Sciences Europe on the side is where more of the problem is.

        1. He’s not been forthright about his methods if he’s claiming that his work has withstood 3rd party peer-review.

    2. I agree about politically funded science, but I fully condemn those that spread falsehood under all circumstances. The world is ignorant enough as is…

  2. Given the science to date, it is just as accurate to say that GMOs are healthier than non-GMOS–if there’s really such a thing, since we’ve been tinkering with food crops for a very long time.

    1. ^This. I wonder if the anti-GMO crowd is aware of how much food has been modified since the beginning of, well, agriculture.

      Of course, something like bees cross-pollinating things is “natural” while humans doing it isn’t, I guess.

      I wonder if they would stop drinking a good chunk of their artisan wine if they knew how much modification was required to grow grapes in some of their preferred climes? Probably not.

      1. Apparently the anti-GMO crowd has never had a nectarine.

        1. We get pluots from our farmer’s market share, which, incidentally, is “organic.” GMOs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        2. Nah, they bought avocados instead because the ouija board said they should.

        3. Or a freakin’ banana! The’ve been changed dramatically in human history.

          1. BEHOLD! THE GENETICALLY ALTERED AND RADIOACTIVE BANANA! WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW, SCIENCE-LOVERS?

            1. I believe the Brazilian tiny banana is the true form of banana and the ones we import are all savagely manipulated.

              1. This is my understanding as well. Corn is even more modified from its forebears.

      2. I suppose some Europhiles would faint in distress if they learned that French wine is made from American grapes (actually, hybrids with American grapes and, therefore, GMOs).

        1. No, French wine is made from French grapes grown on American rootstock which is immune to Phylloxera (root louse native to America) which wiped out about 90% of European vines in the 1800s after some American vines where planted in Europe for shits and giggles.

          1. All must bow before American hegemonic agriculture and megafauna.

            1. Except the Aussies. They’ve managed to keep Phylloxera out of their island paradise.

                1. I have readied the submarine to transport thousands of concord grape vines to the island. Deployment of the vines will commence shortly.

                  1. Make sure they’re poisonous, so they fit in with Australia’s ecosystem.

                    1. That would be a GMO wouldn’t it. Back to the lab.

                    2. It wouldn’t be if we just sold highly toxic fertilizer to them with the grapes. All in the open, of course, because the Australian courts death.

                    3. Excellent plan.

        2. Perhaps. They could work around it through the whole “European, therefore it’s different” argument.

          Heard variations of it before here and there.

      3. B-b-b-but this is different! Because KKKORPORASHUNZ!

        1. Touche. If only there were some large entity that regulated everything we ate and drank to make sure nobody ever made money or profit or tampered with nature ever again…

      4. Carrots are only orange because the Dutch are patriotic.

      5. All plants and animals have been modifying each other since the very beginning, back before orchids, insects, and birds, waaaay back before.

    2. Admittedly, it is somewhat different. It’s one thing to cross pollenate different plants, it’s another to isolate a specific gene within an avocado and inject it into a potato. The distinction is our ability to narrow the modification down to only the desired attribute instead of having to iterate many generations of a pollenation to achieve desired effect. It’s labcoats vs. farmers.

      And apparently progs are Godlike, because God made a farmer.

  3. Greens are of the opinion that we humans will never reach the much-desired state of ethical and spiritual purity until we’re all starving in the cold and dark. Only then will perfection abide with us.

    1. The wheel! That’s dangerous! It will destroy wildlife and wetlands! We cannot allow this “wheel”!

      1. Good point: the wheel would fail the precautionary principle.

        As would fire.

        if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.

        You certainly can’t prove that fire isn’t harmful. And, as pointed out above, the wheel also causes harm.

        You could say the same for flint tools, I suppose. Those things are used to kill animals, and a good one could cut a child!

        1. Thank you – and nice handle, by the by.

          Also: this “cooking” food idea. How do we know it’s safe? Carbon is bad, and there’s not any certainty that germs, bacteria, etc., will be killed as a result. Too risky.

        2. The current battle against “carbon” is really the first wave of a battle against both the wheel and fire. Al Gore HATES automobiles, and would dearly like to eliminate them, at least as a common method of travel. If you can demonize methods of travel that depend on the wheel, you eventually get back to people just walking everywhere, which is the entire goal of the eco-left.

          No one travels farther than they can walk, they stay in small villages, overseen by the Smart People (TM), who know what is good for the proles, and make sure that the proles understand who is in charge.

          Automobiles are a combination of the wheel and fire that is truly an abomination for the eco-left. Trains and airplanes will eventually be identified for elimination, as well.

          1. ^This. Isn’t the end game, basically, for the greenies?

          2. Al Gore HATES automobiles…

            Al Gore hates automobiles for you. For himself, that’s different.

    2. Poverty is so romantic.

      1. It really is! Oh, poverty. I remember when I was a poor student, indulging in the scientific theories of marx and lenin and lennon.

        I was so poor working for capitalists while studying about the systematic oppression of everyone. I mean, I should have felt guilt about accepting rent and food money from my parents, or the BMW they gave me, or the vast record collection I accrued.

        1. But, I make up for it by working at a non-profit, providing community outreach to inform the People who is oppressing them by feeding them poison food and making them chained to the shackles of technology.

          I mean, my socialist collective house in downtown Seattle would be so much less oppressive if the electricity and windows were not controlled by the robber barons.

  4. Don’t matter if the science is junk or not, it’s part of the narrative now.

  5. claque

    I learned a new word today. Thanks Ron!

    1. Before I checked that that was a real word (thanks Ron!), I thought perhaps he meant “clique.” Then I immediately started checking my phone for old podcasts of Car Talk to listen to while working.

      1. You mean ‘Ca Taak’. Fuck NPR and all their attempts at entertainment.

        1. While I agree with you, I found Ca Taak to be pretty apolitical. I’ve never donated to NPR and never will, but if they are going to air something that wasn’t anything to do with what they calls “news” while I’m doing chores, then I’ll tune in. Same for that clown NorMAN GoldMAN while I’m driving home from work. I’ll listen to his show, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay $5/month for his podcast.

  6. The study was severely criticized by researchers representing leading toxicological science organizations.

    In other words: BIG GMO. Or possibly Big Anti-Rat.

  7. “Many believe” is exactly the same as peer review.

  8. Well, the Berkeley city council wants everyone to know that you can’t prove cell phones are safe:

    “Berkeley pushes for cancer warning stickers on cell phones”
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/…..hc-bayarea

    This is the home of Cal, a university which had a name to uphold.

    1. I’m sure the Berkeley council believes in the precautionary principle.

      So why aren’t they banning cell phones?

      1. “So why aren’t they banning cell phones?”

        They’d rather be re-elected; you want ’em to go to *work*?

    2. The last time I lived there, the mayor was caught at 5am stealing all of the newspapers and throwing them away because the paper didn’t endorse her. She threw away 50,000 copies before she was caught. The city barely even batted an eyelash at the behavior, and she was reelected.

      Oh, and the next mayor did the same thing 4 years later.

  9. Huh. So, my paper on the effects of Power Crystals on Plastic Recycling near Galactic Vortexes: How the Heart Chakra Benefits from Recycling near the Vortex only needs a “many believe” and a couple “relevant” references here and there. NEat!

    1. I know a city council that’ll go for it.

      1. Awesome! Can’t wait to get some public funds. I mean, that’s so much better than selling ideas to a public that may actually want something! Yay government!

      2. Was it the same city council that was trying to conduct foreign policy after 9/11?

        1. after 9/11? Weren’t they frantically flogging the “Nuclear Free Zone” krep and trying to sister city with the Politburo?

          1. They drafted a letter to Hamid Karzai. I don’t remember the exact content of the letter, but rest assured, it was bat shit crazy.

            1. And at that point in early 2002, Hamid Karzai determined that he would never listen to U.S. advice on how to run his country, having learned first hand that democracy simply enables the stupidest and most vapid to rise to the top.

  10. OT: Always be on the lookout for Tulpa licking boots in cop thread once he thinks they’re abandoned. https://reason.com/blog/2014/07…..nt_4635514

  11. NPR(more specifically The Diane Rehm Show) is railing against income inequality and raising the minimum wage of course they have yet to describe why income inequality is bad as they don’t have a voice of opposition.

    1. They’re saying that people who disagree with raising the minimum wage just paid attention in Econ 101 and aren’t up to date with current economic thought. This whole thing is hilarious.

      1. What is modern economic thought? That companies have an unending pot of money, and that wages have no bearing on prices or employment?

        (Wait, having heard wage arguments from some progressive friends of mine, that may actually be modern economic thought)

        1. Hmm. I think it’s that facts are not facts, numbers are subjective, and every unicorn is just over by the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The pot of gold though, is just symbolic of patriarchal economic theory, so it must be place in a safe place to make sure that people get a million dollars every day.

          I think that’s “modern economic thought”…

        2. Yea he’s talking about how great capitalism and arguing for socialism at the same time. These people get so tiresome their model has been proven wrong so many times and they keep shoveling this bullshit as if its new and cutting edge thought. There either mendacious liars or just incredibly historically illiterate.

          1. Oh, a healthy mix, I’m sure. I’ve always thought it was amusing/irritating how some “thinkers” will basically praise capitalism while describing “socialism”.

            Never minding the fact that the socialist countries followed Marxist socialism pretty closely…and failed miserably economically as well as technologically and environmentally.

  12. “”If we need to make a mockery of ‘science’ in the aid of our political aims, then so be it!””

    Cue 10,000 people claiming that the REAL science is repressed by the Monsantos and the corporashuns hiding the truthiness of the RealFooders.

    There’s a comment there @ Nature by a ‘Timothy Tang’ that apparently doesn’t appreciate that the only difference between a “Medicine” and a “poison” is Dosage.

    1. +1 LD50

  13. But, I thought peer review was the most powerful force in academia! That peer was the same thing as a pronouncement ex cathedra! For science!

  14. A lie is not a lie if it advances the Cause of the People. Sometimes we must do bad things so that good things result for everybody!

    /s

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