GMO Seralini is comprised of “a group of concerned citizens and scientists” that serves as a “one-stop resource for information about the research of Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues on genetically modified foods and their associated pesticides”. (2)
The original and republished Seralini study examines the effects of “glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and a commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto’s NK603” on rats. Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini and his team found that feeding rats the GM corn and “low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU” resulted in “severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances”.
The study found “toxic effects” in rats that were tested separately for GM maize and then separately for Roundup alone as well as the two (GM maize and Roundup) together. Perhaps the most disturbing results were higher rates of large tumors with higher mortality rates.
Original Journal Publication of Study Pressured to Retract
One of the problems that plagued the original publication of the Seralini study was the group’s requirement that journalists sign a non-disclosure statement prior to reviewing the raw data and other documentation.
In the world of science, researchers guard against their data being published in the news media prior to its publication in the professional journal(s). The Seralini team attempted to safeguard their work with the introduction of a non-disclosure agreement. However, their requirement was met with suspicions that the group was hiding something followed by accusations from pro-GMO scientists that the study was flawed.
It’s understandable why the Seralini team felt the need for a non-disclosure statement since such a news blitz has happened in the past. One well-known instance was the 2001 Quist and Chapela study. (3)
The Quist and Chapela GMO study of Mexican maize from 2000-2002 reads like a Hollywood movie script. The study conducted by the two Berkley scientists was published in the journal Nature and revealed Monsanto’s GM corn had contaminated the Mexican maize varieties. However, the information from their study was leaked prior to Nature publishing it.
A “vicious campaign” ensued against the study forcing Nature to retract the publication. At least it seemed that was the case; however, two contradicting editorials published in Nature made it difficult to understand whether or not the study was actually retracted.
12 years later, it’s a commonly known and no longer disputed fact that GM crops contaminate other crops. One well-known instance was the LibertyLink rice contamination disaster. (4)
Why Republishing of Seralini Study Is Significant
In the Seralini team’s effort to prevent such unwanted early disclosure, their request for a non-disclosure agreement was off-putting to journalists and others. The negative reception of the request became ammunition for pro-GMO scientists and fueled the alleged campaign started by GM corporations to pressure the journal into retracting the study, which it succumbed to in 2013.
The 2014 republishing of the Seralini study by the Environmental Sciences Europe is very important to the scientific community and ultimately consumers. There’s additional information “addressing criticisms of the original publication” of the study.
The republishing of the study makes it available as “peer-reviewed literature”, having successfully undergone the unheard of “three rounds of rigorous peer review”. The republishing of the study means other researchers can use it as a reference and study it extensively. It also makes the data available to be used as the basis for conducting further studies so those new studies can build upon the shoulders of the Seralini study.
According to the GMO Seralini website, “The raw data underlying the study’s findings are also published – unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged”.
In addition to the study, Prof Séralini’s team included an accompanying commentary that gives details of “the lobbying efforts of GMO crop supporters to force the editor of FCT to retract the original publication”.
A Victory for Science
The GMO Seralini website published comments made by other scientists on the study and how the FTC was forced to retract the original one. Perhaps the most compelling comments were made by Dr Jack A Heinemann, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Canterbury New Zealand:
“The first publication of these results revealed some of the viciousness that can be unleashed on researchers presenting uncomfortable findings.”
The republication of the Seralini study is a victory for the team and, many researchers believe, for science as a whole. Those within the industry allege strong-arm tactics are often used, such as threats to pull research monies from institutions. This was cited as a tactic used against the Berkley scientists, where $50 million in funds hung the balance causing colleagues to turn against the two researchers.
Are scientists being censored in the interests of corporations? (5) Is there any way to circumvent the power that large corporations are accused of exerting over this type of scientific data? If scientific research is compromised or prevented from publication what is the future for science and the world? From a very personal level, what does the publication of such research information give to you and how do you benefit from its publication?
Or, perhaps the more important question is how do you suffer when such information is suppressed and you are denied that knowledge? Will this study influence what types of foods you purchase? Will knowing about the effects of GM corn cited in the study influence your purchases? Will you opt for only organic corn and corn products to ensure you and your family aren’t eating GMO corn?
What changes if any will the Seralini study bring about in the issue of GMO crops?