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Study Linking GM Maize To Rat Tumors Is Retracted

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the arguing-over-food dept.

Biotech 341

ananyo writes "Bowing to scientists' near-universal scorn, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology has fulfilled its threat to retract a controversial paper which claimed that a genetically modified (GM) maize causes serious disease in rats after the authors refused to withdraw it. The paper, from a research group led by Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen, France, and published in 2012, showed 'no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data,' said a statement from Elsevier, which publishes the journal. But the small number and type of animals used in the study means that 'no definitive conclusions can be reached.' The known high incidence of tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat 'cannot be excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence observed in the treated groups,' it added. Today's move came as no surprise. Earlier this month, the journal's editor-in-chief, Wallace Hayes, threatened retraction if Séralini refused to withdraw the paper, which is exactly what he announced at a press conference in Brussels this morning. Séralini and his team remained unrepentant, and allege that the retraction derives from the journal's editorial appointment of biologist Richard Goodman, who previously worked for biotechnology giant Monsanto for seven years."

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maize?? (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about 10 months ago | (#45555703)

really?? I mean sure it is proper but who uses the term maize any longer??

(for those who are not up to date, maize is the native american term for corn)

Re:maize?? (5, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#45555747)

who uses the term maize any longer??

Scientific researchers for starters. And anyone who speaks Spanish.

Re:maize?? (5, Informative)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 10 months ago | (#45555775)

really?? I mean sure it is proper but who uses the term maize any longer?? (for those who are not up to date, maize is the native american term for corn)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maize [wikipedia.org]
TL;DR Maize is preferred in formal, scientific, and international usage because it refers specifically to this one grain, unlike corn, which has a complex variety of meanings that vary by context and geographic region.

Re:maize?? (4, Informative)

ganjadude (952775) | about 10 months ago | (#45556325)

Thank you for that, now i feel foolish for posting heh

Re:maize?? (2)

JustOK (667959) | about 10 months ago | (#45555801)

Wasn't Willie Maize the Catcher in the Rye? Or am I thinking about Yogi Berra?

Re:maize?? (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 10 months ago | (#45555885)

Billy Maize is the Pitcher in the Rye.

...Slashdot needs a comment filter for bad pun density.

Re:maize?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555927)

My cock farted as it entered your smelly asshole. I wonder what was there...?

Re:maize?? (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 10 months ago | (#45556135)

That's right. Yogi Berra snatched piknik baskets.

Re:maize?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556203)

"I never snatched a lot of those pik-ih-nik baskets I snatched." - Y. Berra

Re:maize?? (2)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 10 months ago | (#45556193)

BILLY MAIZE HERE!

Re:maize?? (5, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#45555835)

Come to Europe. We grow corn too - but our corn is a different plant entirely.

When European settlers came to the new world, they found a lot of new species they had no names for. So they named them after something familiar from back home. 'Corn' was named because it was the staple crop, just like the 'corn' back home - otherwise known as wheat, or the stuff cornflakes and bread are made from. This is also why you have a robin that isn't even in the same family as the european robin: It has a similar red breast, so it was called a robin.

Re:maize?? (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#45555943)

Well that explains a lot of things - Healthcare, Democrat, Football.

No wonder we're so confused. It's all your fault.

USA! USA! USA!

Re:maize?? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 10 months ago | (#45556209)

Funniest comment of the month and no mod points...

Re: maize?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555991)

You have cornflakes made of wheat? Wacky.

Re: maize?? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#45556073)

Looked it up, and... you are right. Cornflakes are made from maize. Huh.

After the processing they look quite unlike their source crop. I just always assumed they were wheat without thinking much about it, having seen a television program with information about their origin. On some research it appears that while the early cornflakes were made from wheat, the recipe has since been heavily revised - one of the revisions being the switch from wheat to maze as the primary ingredient.

I get the impression Kellogg himself would be very unhappy with the cereal today. He made it to be a healthy breakfast food, and the company has since switched ingredients for cheaper maze and loaded it up with added sugar and high-fructose syrup. But then, this is the man who worked tirelessly to reintroduce circumcision to the US as a preemptive way discourage masturbation, so screw him.

Re: maize?? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#45556083)

And yes, I know I misspelt 'maize' twice.

Re: maize?? (3, Interesting)

compro01 (777531) | about 10 months ago | (#45556181)

But then, this is the man who worked tirelessly to reintroduce circumcision to the US as a preemptive way discourage masturbation, so screw him.

Corn flakes were a variation on that theme. Kellogg was a follower of the ideas of Sylvester Graham (who also invented the "masturbation causes blindness" nuttery). He believed that spicy or sweet foods led to "passions" and "impure thoughts".

Re:maize?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556455)

Cornflakes are made from Maize not Wheat.

Read the definition of corn... (4, Informative)

clonan (64380) | about 10 months ago | (#45555845)

Gan: Corn is defined as a small hard grain/seed

Wheat is corn
Rice is corn
Rye is Corn
Millet is Corn

Maize is also corn

The term Corn used in supermarkets is actually slang....

If you are going to be a vocab critic then at least get the vocab right!

Re:maize?? (5, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | about 10 months ago | (#45555883)

Maize is the term used in the UK, where corn means, usually, wheat - sometimes barley.

Many dictionaries say that "corn" means the local most common grain crop, and therefore each grain type needs another name for use where it is not the most common.

Re:maize?? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555923)

"Corn outside North America, Australia, and New Zealand means any cereal crop" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maize)

That's quite a good reason for being specific.

Also Maiz is the Taino (native american) name for the plant, Maize is a modern derivative of that and the technically correct name.

Re:maize?? (4, Informative)

gregor-e (136142) | about 10 months ago | (#45555937)

Albanian - misër
Cebuano - mais
Danish - majs
Dutch - maïs
Esperanto - maizo
Estonian - mais
Filipino - mais
Finnish - maissi
French - maïs
German - Mais
Haitian Creole - mayi
Italian - mais
Norwegian - mais
Spanish - maíz
Swedish - majs
Turkish - misir

Re:maize?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555939)

(for those who are not up to date, maize is the native american term for corn)

More specifically, "maize" is the formal and generally-accepted word for the type of corn which most people in the US refer to as "corn", whereas most types of corn (oats, rice, wheat) are not maize at all.

Re:maize?? (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#45556023)

really?? I mean sure it is proper but who uses the term maize any longer??

Oh dear, you just opened a can of whoop-ass on yourself....

Re:maize?? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#45556223)

Everyone outside of the English speaking US.

I blame the Jews. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555717)

I blame the Jews.

I smell a rat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555723)

I have a feeling someone at Elsevier has a new Ferrari in their driveway.

seems a bit strange (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 10 months ago | (#45555741)

Imo, withdrawing papers makes sense mainly if there is indeed, "evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data". Faked data doesn't help advance science, and should be purged from the record.

But merely questionable conclusions are another story. Science is a back-and-forth process: someone publishes a study purporting to show X, and then someone else criticizes their conclusions, re-analyzes their data, attempts to replicate it, etc. Then they publish their own conclusions, purporting to show not-X. Withdrawing the original study in this case doesn't make sense to me, if it was not fraudulent: we don't typically retroactively go into old journals and blank out the articles that have subsequently turned out to be wrong. We just write new articles with better analysis.

Re:seems a bit strange (4, Insightful)

cranky_chemist (1592441) | about 10 months ago | (#45555839)

You are correct.

Weak science and insufficient sample sizes are matters for the journal's referees to suss out and, if necessary, recommend that the journal not publish the paper. The fact that the paper passed peer review should have the journal re-examining their editorial/peer-review policies.

Ultimately, the decision to publish (and responsibility for publishing) a paper lies with the journal's editor in chief.

Re:seems a bit strange (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555907)

This only seems strange because you're viewing it through the logic of science, rather than the logic of Capitalism. Under the logic of Capitalism, this outcome is perfectly sensible: this study raises negative PR issues about a multi-billion-dollar industry, ergo is wrong and must be suppressed.

Re:seems a bit strange (5, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 10 months ago | (#45556001)

One cannot rule out the lesser-sized, but very real industry of trumping up faux problems for the purpose of becoming talking heads.

Re:seems a bit strange (2, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 10 months ago | (#45555945)

I agree. If Elsevier thought the study was too weak, they shouldn't have published it.

Asking the authors to retract it makes it look like they just wanted to save face by not doing it themselves. Didn't work.

The "Nature" post says Elsevier bowed to "scientists' near-universal scorn"; I have no idea what that means. It suggests perhaps that the study was unconvincing. But it's Elsevier's job to screen for that. It's not their job to retroactively delete honest experiments with honest data which have been honestly reproduced and peer-reviewed because of negative letters to the editor.

Re:seems a bit strange (5, Insightful)

gregor-e (136142) | about 10 months ago | (#45555963)

The case made for withdrawal bases its objections on bad science. The response from the authors was an ad-hominem attack against one of the editors.

Re:seems a bit strange (1)

pseudofrog (570061) | about 10 months ago | (#45556051)

And bad it was. Fractal badness.

I mean, really bad. [discovery.com]

It shouldn't have been published in the first place, but at least they're admitting their mistake.

Re:seems a bit strange (-1, Troll)

flaming error (1041742) | about 10 months ago | (#45556213)

What bad science?

After they got lots of nasty letters to the editor, they asked the authors to retract. The authors declined. So the journal went over the original study with a fine-toothed comb and decided the experiment was good, the data was good, and the best objection they could come up with was that they no longer liked the sample size.

"No definitive conclusions" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555995)

Here http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www/ [fourmilab.ch] is another paper which did not, itself, contain sufficient evidence to form "definitive conclusions." But publishing it sure put other scientists on a path to do research that eventually did provide some definitive conclusions...

Re:seems a bit strange (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45556091)

Think of it this way, imagine someone did a study, where a single kid was vaccinated and later got autism. The authors of this study drew the conclusion that vaccines cause autism.

Would you consider that to be poor science? Because that is essentially what happened here, there were obvious problems with the experiment, and the science was badly done. Elsevier was being kind by saying there was no evidence of fraud, because either it was fraud or incompetence that motivated these scientists to publish.

What they should do is repeat the experiment with a better sample size.

Re:seems a bit strange (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 10 months ago | (#45556183)

" a single kid... that is essentially what happened here"

Really? They "essentially" had a sample size of 1 with no control group?

"either it was fraud or incompetence that motivated these scientists to publish"

How do you know their motive?

Re:seems a bit strange (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45556279)

Really? They "essentially" had a sample size of 1 with no control group?

Yes. The sample sizes weren't large enough to draw any conclusions. At least read the summary, please.

How do you know their motive?

I don't, which, as I said, means it's possible they are incompetent.

Re:seems a bit strange (5, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 10 months ago | (#45556467)

No, it wasn't a sample size of 1 with no control group. But according to one expert, the control group was way too small to derive statistically valid results from. According to UCD researcher Martina Newell–McGloughlin, quoted in the Discovery article [discovery.com] (from 2012), here's what they did wrong:

  • They had a control group of 10 or 20 rats in an overall population of 200 rats (Discovery claimed the study should have had a control group that was two or three times the size of the experimental rat population.)
  • The breed of rat is tumor prone (I assume this is a problem because the researchers were pre-supposing the outcome will be tumors.)
  • The rats were two years old (a very old rat for such a study, and at two years old are likely to randomly develop tumors independently.)
  • The rats were allowed to eat unlimited quantities of the food (which is known to lead to tumors even with untainted food.)
  • They found no dose-dependent correlation between the quantity of food consumed and the tumor rate (expected in toxicology studies.)
  • They performed no independent confirmation analysis to determine if the outcome they saw could have been arrived at by chance.

So yeah, while it's not as bad as the vaccine hoaxers, it was apparently not good research.

Re:seems a bit strange (2, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 10 months ago | (#45556217)

Think of it this way, imagine someone did a study, where a single kid was vaccinated and later got autism. The authors of this study drew the conclusion that vaccines cause autism.

  Would you consider that to be poor science? Because that is essentially what happened here, there were obvious problems with the experiment, and the science was badly done. Elsevier was being kind by saying there was no evidence of fraud, because either it was fraud or incompetence that motivated these scientists to publish.

  What they should do is repeat the experiment with a better sample size.

It's poor science, yes, but it's an intriguing data point in which further study is required.

That's often how research is done - you work with a limited set of resources to see if the hypothesis is even correct. Like say, "vaccines cause autism". Well, you do a study, and find that yes, it does in your study, which warrants further study. Or you find that no, it doesn't, which shuts down the entire line of thinking.

Starting with a small sample size is perfectly OK, as long as one realizes that further study is required to see if the issue discovered was related to small sample size (e.g., local effect or other thing).

But no, you don't withdraw published papers for bad science - you release another one proving the original was bad. (Unlike the original Lancet paper, which was discovered to be fraudulent which does demand removal).

Unless the paper was done to engage in fraud, it should stand. It doesn't matter if the authors are biased, if the sample size is too small, or the paper uses "teh" everywhere. It should be judged as it stands. And if other studies show otherwise, well, they should be published as well, and that's how knowledge is obtained - you have done more studies that discredit an earlier study because of some variable that was uncontrolled.

Re:seems a bit strange (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45556265)

Please say something that indicates you understand the point of a statistically significant result, because everything you say suggests you don't.

If your result isn't statistically significant, and you draw conclusions from it, that isn't science.

Re:seems a bit strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556339)

Or you cull people from the population pool based on their web browsing habits. The choice is now.

Captcha: torture

Dear Homos: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555745)

I realize that bone smugglers such as you get off on being all "multi-cultural" and shit. It gives you wood. We understand that.

But Slashdot is based in the U.S., and most of it's readers are American.

So please keep your faggotry where it belongs, in your ass, and not in the prose.

p-value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555771)

So what was the p-value, using which test?

Re: p-value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555911)

P values aren't enough - a correct hypothesis test and appropriate power correction are needed as well.

'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (1, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#45555799)

Funny how Monsanto isn't required to definitively prove their crap is safe, but everyone else is required to definitely prove that it isn't.

So basically we've got an evidentiary double-standard where Monsanto et al get to say "perfectly safe until proven otherwise", and we don't get to say "prove it". And then we all get to be the test subjects in the long-term studies.

And, more importantly, having worked at Monsanto should automatically exclude you from being considered from holding an editorial position like this. You mostly have to assume these guys are going to be paid shills who have already made up their mind that it's safe, and he's basically just demonstrated that Food and Chemical Toxicology isn't interested in objective science.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555813)

It's very easy to prove that something is unsafe; you simply show meaningful and reproducible examples of harm caused

You can't prove that something is safe because you can't say beyond a doubt that something will never ever cause harm in the future. What you *can* do is show multiple studies that were looking for harm and could not meaningfully find any.

What we know about GMOs is that there are no known examples of harm caused by them that can be reproduced by scientific peers.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (-1, Troll)

Alexander DiMauro (3448695) | about 10 months ago | (#45555983)

"What we know about GMOs is that there are no known examples of harm caused by them that can be reproduced by scientific peers."

That is complete nonsense. They tried to publish a review paper that said there is no evidence that GMOs are unsafe, and that the 'conversation is over'. Hundreds of scientists came out against that paper and said that the conversation is anything but over, that it was basically a fraud.

This whole thing is a con job form the beginning. Monsanto has infiltrated science and government and pretty much does whatever they want, without proof. After all, this is the same company that assured us that their products Agent Orange and DDT were safe. And you want to trust them now?! This is a chemical company that is trying to take control of the food supply. Buying up seed companies (now own two-thirds of all seed companies), forcing people to use their chemicals to grow food and come to them for seeds every year.

Then, they tell everyone their chemicals and foods are safe, but refuse to label any of it! It's forced down everyone's throats. No choice. All the other garbage in food is put on labels, and people are allowed to choose for themselves whether to eat junk or not. But an UNPROVEN (regardless of what you say, it is STILL unproven) food is allowed to take over our whole food system while Monsanto execs take over the whole government process, preventing any regulation.

GMOs produce toxins. Those toxins have already been shown to stay in the human body almost indefinitely, compromising the human immune system. And, in perfect correlation to the spread of GMOs, all sorts of illnesses are growing and a rapid rate. This is why they refuse to do any long-term studies. Not only that, their toxic chemicals are wreaking havoc on the environment, and whole colonies of bees are dying. The same bees that pollinate two-thirds of the world's crops. When the bees are gone, humanity collapses.

But you go on believing that these toxins are safe. Why? I guess that's why you post under 'Anonymous Coward'. It's complete nonsense. LABEL THE *(&%$A*(&$*( FOOD!!! Let the people decide for themselves. If they are so safe, why do they refuse to label them?

These people did absolutely nothing to warrant having their paper retracted. This is just another example of the lengths Monsanto will take to silence any and all opposition. They steal people's land, ruin lives, ruin health, ruin the environment. They are a cancer on the world.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (5, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#45556063)

GMOs produce toxins. Those toxins have already been shown to stay in the human body almost indefinitely, compromising the human immune system. And, in perfect correlation to the spread of GMOs, all sorts of illnesses are growing and a rapid rate.

They turned me into a newt!

This is why they refuse to do any long-term studies.

I got better.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556171)

Uh, no, the paper was about GMO corn causing tumors in rats - are you high on weed or something?

Anyway, there is a broad scientific consensus about the safety of GMOs. There are over 600 studies - you can start here: http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/. Do you want to claim that Monsanto has the entire scientific community locked up in their sphere of influence? That's about as sensible as claiming that human-caused global warming proponents in academia are all part of some liberal conspiracy to implement communism.

Re: "GMOs produce toxins" the only toxins that are being produced are GMOs that have been modified to produce the Bt toxin which is COMPLETELY harmless to humans. The mechanism of action of the Bt pesticide only affects insects - the digestive system of the human is completely unaffected by it. Also, you may not be aware, but Bt is available as a spray and is approved for use even on USDA Organic crops. So even if you're eating organic food, there is a very good chance you're consuming the Bt pesticide.

If you think Bt is unsafe to humans then PROVE IT. Put up or shut up.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556361)

These "scientists" are on someone's payroll. Follow the money.
This is not science or scientists in the original sense of the words.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (0)

femtobyte (710429) | about 10 months ago | (#45555985)

You seem to be swallowing the PR spin that intentionally confuses "study is not reproducible" with "no one has bothered to try reproducing the study." The paper is not being retracted because some better-run experiment with a larger sample size came along and showed, with improved statistical confidence, that this small-sample study's results were a statistical fluke. You say "there are no known examples of harm" --- but that's because nearly no one has looked; and, when they do (as in this case), they're automatically dismissed by Monsanto's FUD machine. This somewhat weak study is an extremely rare example of someone trying at all --- limited in statistical size because it's really hard to get funding to try studying anything against Big Ag's corporate profit interests.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (3, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 10 months ago | (#45556161)

You say "there are no known examples of harm" --- but that's because nearly no one has looked

Hardly no one looks for examples of harm from non-GMO corn either. All corn, really all agricultural products, are heavily genetically engineered, the difference is some is engineered with selective breeding and hybridization, and the other by resequencing. The only reason we pay attention to the latter is there's a contingent of motivated believers who think that "natural" food contains Maggi Health Fairies, and that Big Science and Corporations kill the fairies by Playing God(!!1!@1!). it's really hard to get funding to try studying anything against Big Ag's corporate profit interests

"It's impossible to disprove Darwinism, because the Darwin lobby controls all granting in the life sciences! [evolutionnews.org] " "It's impossible to disprove general relativity, because the government suppresses that truth! [conservapedia.com] "

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (2)

femtobyte (710429) | about 10 months ago | (#45556285)

Recall, in this particular case, the specific genetic modification in question: glyphosate resistance, allowing massive quantities of glyphosate herbicide to be dumped on everything. This isn't engineering to make bigger, sweeter kernels or boost crop density. Glyphosate kills the heck out of weeds because it's highly biologically active, designed to interfere with metabolic processes --- the kind of thing you might have big a-priori safety concerns about, above and beyond genetic modification to speed along selective breeding processes for traits not directly related to dumping massive amounts of toxins onto food products. So, yes, humans have been doing "genetic engineering" for a long time, but less so for capabilities to saturate fields with weird shit that kills all the other plants.

Nearly no one has looked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556229)

The scientific community begs to differ: http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/

You must live in some bizarro world where 600 can be rounded to zero.

Seriously, where do you guys get your talking points on GMOs? Because it just isn't true.

Re:Nearly no one has looked? (0)

femtobyte (710429) | about 10 months ago | (#45556401)

So, where was the pre-existing study in those 600 that tested for the effects claimed in this study, and found contradictory results with a more statistically relevant sample size? Really, for stuff going in to the food supply of billions of people, and saturating Earth's major ecosystems, "600 studies" (largely industry-funded, from an industry with extreme PR manipulation emphasis) isn't all that impressive. There are lots of things to look at --- and, when you find one that (statistically weakly) turns up a problem, shouldn't the response be to do further research with more statistically powerful sample sizes instead of suppressing the research (which already passed peer review, under extremely close scrutiny)?

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555849)

I disagree with the retraction of this study, since there is no concrete evidence of fraud, but I 100% agree with the criticisms of the study. The study is deeply flawed; did you read any of the criticisms of the paper that the editor and the scientific community raised?

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#45555871)

Funny how Monsanto isn't required to definitively prove their crap is safe, but everyone else is required to definitely prove that it isn't.

It's not that way for either party and shouldn't be ("definitively prove" is a ludicrously high threshold). This was apparently half-assed research which didn't "prove" anything.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (2)

khallow (566160) | about 10 months ago | (#45555917)

And, more importantly, having worked at Monsanto should automatically exclude you from being considered from holding an editorial position like this. You mostly have to assume these guys are going to be paid shills who have already made up their mind that it's safe, and he's basically just demonstrated that Food and Chemical Toxicology isn't interested in objective science.

Ignoring that working for Monsanto is one avenue to getting the sort of experience in the field that can make one a good editor, everyone has some sort of conflict of interest. I guess we'll just have to do without editors, huh?

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (0)

femtobyte (710429) | about 10 months ago | (#45556045)

What does working in a profit-focused megacorporate environment have to do with "experience to make one a good editor"? The institutional structures and culture within Monsanto have zilch to do with fostering scientific integrity and objectivity as a first priority; nor with journalistic editorial work.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (5, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 10 months ago | (#45555925)

Like it or not, even big companies are innocent until proven guilty. Pending FDA approval, anyway.

In this case it looks like the researchers were out for blood and let their dislike for Monsanto get in the way of doing the science properly—not only did they use cancer-prone rats like it says in the summary, but they didn't do enough replicates to determine if the results were actually statistically significant: the control group definitely got fewer tumours, but given the unreliability of the rat breed's tumour-forming rate it's hard to say that it wasn't just a coincidence. (And using a cancer-prone rat isn't exactly realistic to begin with; tumours grow faster whenever they get cheap and easy nutrients.)

The paper was under close scrutiny immediately when it was published, and not just from Elsevier or Monsanto.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555953)

Like it or not, even big companies are innocent until proven guilty. Pending FDA approval, anyway.

Except the FDA, like every other US government department, is usually victim to extensive lobbying efforts to ensure the burden of proof is put on someone else, and that no actual regulations which have any impact are ever enacted.

Regulatory capture is alive and well, and mostly only serves the interests of big business.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (1, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 10 months ago | (#45556059)

not only did they use cancer-prone rats like it says in the summary

Well, if rats are unsuitable test subjects, might I suggest lawyers, politicians, telemarketers and door-to-door sales people?

Cram a couple of pounds of GMO crap down their gullet every day and see what happens. And, Fox could syndicate it and make a fortune. Think of the boost to the economy.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (5, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about 10 months ago | (#45555949)

Funny how Monsanto isn't required to definitively prove their crap is safe, but everyone else is required to definitely prove that it isn't.

That's because it is reasonable to assume that it is safe based on what we know about biology. Furthermore, there are no real-world indications that it is not. At this point, if you want to claim it's unsafe, you better have some strong data to back it up.

he's basically just demonstrated that Food and Chemical Toxicology isn't interested in objective science.

According to objective science, every widely used organism produced by genetic manipulation is safe to consume.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (1)

Jaktar (975138) | about 10 months ago | (#45556289)

There's actually a list of GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) at the FDA Website. To my knowledge, GM foods fall under this listing.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GRAS [wikipedia.org]
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/fcnNavigation.cfm?rpt=grasListing [fda.gov]

and here's a short listing for GM items listed under GRAS.
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/fcnNavigation.cfm?filter=genetically+modified&sortColumn=&rpt=grasListing [fda.gov]

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556385)

Funny how you will never back your own words up.

Of course there will be evidence, when the harm is already done. Having enough data to prove beyond all doubt may take 20-30 years. Is this objective? Not remotely.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#45556011)

Yeah! It's time to get this hunt started. We need to start asking the most important scientific question of all:

Does Monsanto weigh the same as a duck?

hard to prove a negative (2)

Chirs (87576) | about 10 months ago | (#45556025)

It's *really hard* to prove that something is safe, you pretty much need to test every possible interaction.

It's relatively simple to prove that something is not safe--you just need to find one thing demonstrating lack of safety and then you're done.

That said, I think there should be some level of due diligence required before bringing a GM food to market. That said, the current alternative to GMOs is irradiating DNA to force it to mutate, which causes way more changes in unrelated areas and offers all the dangers of GMOs, but currently has basically no labelling requirements.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45556069)

So basically we've got an evidentiary double-standard where Monsanto et al get to say "perfectly safe until proven otherwise"

I don't want to call you ignorant, but you should actually look at the tests that are done with GMO crops before they are allowed to be eaten, even by the researchers who made them, and then before they are allowed to be sold. Monsanto actually is required to prove they are safe (within a margin of error, which is all you can do in science). You should look up on Wikipedia and understand the tests that are done before posting again.

Re:'no definitive conclusions can be reached' (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 10 months ago | (#45556165)

Funny how Monsanto isn't required to definitively prove their crap is safe, but everyone else is required to definitely prove that it isn't.

So basically we've got an evidentiary double-standard where Monsanto et al get to say "perfectly safe until proven otherwise", and we don't get to say "prove it". And then we all get to be the test subjects in the long-term studies.

Except they do have to prove it's safe, to within a certain margin. GM foods generally have a substantially similar composition and nutritional content as existing foods, which means if that food is safe so is the derived food. Believe it or not, but the FDA and equivalent organizations do have regulations for GM foods to ensure they're safe. Of course you can't definitely prove it's safe: that's an impossible burden of proof, because you can't prove anything definitively, in science.

The US isn't always wrong. (5, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 10 months ago | (#45555815)

Corn is a major export crop of the United States.

Europe government wants to promote food that is grown within the Union. It really makes sense that a European scientist would feel pressured to find evidence against a primary US import.
As the US agriculture system is very efficient at making low cost food.

I know it is trendy to be Anti-American as it must be some conspiracy from big US companies to hide the truth, like with Big Tobacco.
But what if GM Food is actually perfectly safe like the science says it is.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (2)

AlecC (512609) | about 10 months ago | (#45555901)

In this case, I really don't think it is anti-American but anti-GM. There is a very widespread fear of GM. Which, as it happens, I disagree with. But, right or wrong, people are afraid of GM and shouting at their politicians about it.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556195)

Fears about GM being somehow more unhealthy or poisonous than regular food are pretty irrational.
However, there are other fears that are more sensible, that have gotten conflated with the health fears, and for some people it's now impossible to separate them:

- Fear that untested modified genes will escape into the environment and mess up the local ecosystem
- Fear that GM crops (roundup-ready!) will increase the use of insecticides, which is a whole other barrel of worms
- Fear that GM foods will give well-connected, litigious and unscrupulous companies *cough*Monsanto*cough* unprecedented and monopolistic control over the world's food supply.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556393)

Fears about GM being somehow more unhealthy or poisonous than regular food are pretty irrational.

How do you figure that?

When you attempt to bake insecticides into a plant destined for human and animal consumption, the question is pretty damned valid.

There are plenty of rational reasons to want to see comprehensive testing by non-partisan science, which is quite hard to achieve with a corrupt behemoth breathing down everybody's neck.

I wouldn't touch GM foods with a ten foot pole, -which is getting to be very difficult these days.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#45556021)

Fortunately, in this case, it's ok to be annoyed by both sides: Elsevier and the guys who did the study. Both are bad.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556047)

But what if GM Food is actually perfectly safe like the science says it is.

Uh, the science does not say anything like that. A particular GM crop can be tested on animals and humans. A number of them had to be withdrawn, for example because of triggering food allergies. And that just tests one element in the food chain. It does not test what the substances break down to and what those components may do. It does not test how the crop competes with natural crops, and how it affects insects, bacteries (the majority of which are a necessary part of the soil's life cycle) and wildlife. It does not test the susceptibility to further mutation, and which traits might evolve.

Some of the directions evolution takes are sobering: death caps grow in symbiosis with hard wood trees. They produce absolutely deadly poison that kills with a delay of about a week. Good enough to wipe out a deer population endangering the tree bark.

Castor beans are even worse.

Many plants have developed into an equilibrium in their respective niche: most mutations deviating from a given sweet point are not competitive, and so they don't go anywhere. And various pieces of DNA strand are differently susceptible to mutation, and the information has evolved to places where the susceptibility to mutation corresponds with the variance of environmental changes to which adaption is necessary.

An artificially created gene sequence is a new starting point.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (2)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 10 months ago | (#45556081)

I have nothing against the US selling GM food in Europe, as long as every customer can decide for himself, but this is in reality not the case. The problem is that in European countries the labelling requirements for GM food are generally inadequate and do not cover all cases, e.g. there is no labelling for ingredients below a certain percentage, some pre-processed ingredients or meat from animals fed with GM plants. In fact, most of the labelling is so fine-print that it cannot even be read through a looking glass - illegaly so, but who would go from the supermarket all the way to court only to get slightly larger letters.

I personally do not wish to buy any GM food, not even traces of it, and also do not wish to buy meat produced from animals fed with GM plants, for reasons that have nothing to do with health concerns. I simply do not wish to directly or indirectly support companies like Monsanto who patent genes, blackmail and sue farmers who do not want to buy their shit, and generally are 0 trustworthy. In a nutshell, if there was a mandatory big red warning label "GM" on each and every product during which production GM plants played any role whatsoever, nobody would complain about the US trying to sell their "low cost food".

As for the scientists, their point that one of the editors worked for Monsanto deserves some consideration, doesn't it?

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#45556355)

Clap! Clap! +10 insightfull and to the point!

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556419)

Welcome to pathological pseudoscepticism. You must be new here.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556137)

I know it is trendy to be Anti-American as it must be some conspiracy from big US companies to hide the truth, like with Big Tobacco.

If big companies would stop trying to hide the truth, we wouldn't be assuming they are.

But since large corporations (and not just American ones) always seem to be in the process of hiding the truth or putting the right spin on things, it's far safer to assume they're all essentially lying crooks.

That a lot of them happen to be American is a coincidence -- because in general, most multinationals are all acting like assholes these days.

Maybe you need to stop feeling so persecuted and that we're singling you out for is being Americans. The reality is, we're mostly growing to distrust capitalism in its current form -- you guys just happen to be the biggest cheerleaders and apologists for the robber barons who are fucking everything up.

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#45556337)

We don't want to risk the 'if'.
You know, in the USA you can do what you want, usually there is no law hindering you. You wait till you get sued into oblivion when something goes wrong.
In europe we usually have laws. Regarding GM food, most of the people, and luckily also most of the politicians, are against it.
I don't want to wait till we see 'if it is dangerous' or till we see 'if it is harmless'.
I simply don't want it at all.
That is my choice AND my right!

Re:The US isn't always wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556345)

As the US agriculture system is very efficient at making low cost food

You mean like this?
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-09/farmers-boost-revenue-sowing-subsidies-for-crop-insurance.html

what about all of those other comprehensive studie (1)

White Jesus (3032229) | about 10 months ago | (#45555837)

oh wait, they don't exist: "This new study is destined to raise more questions than it answers," he said. But at this point, a few things are clear. It is outrageous and shocking that this is the first long-term feeding study, even though genetically engineered foods have been on the market for nearly 20 years." source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-says-genetically-modified-corn-causes-tumors-but-other-scientists-skeptical-about-research/ [cbsnews.com]

Whew! (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 10 months ago | (#45555889)

Study Linking GM Maize To Rat Tumors Is Retracted

Thank heaven for that! Somebody pass the corn please.

dark ages all over again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45555969)

This absolutly ludicrous. Peer reviewed research has to be anulled by other peer reviewed research. Not by decree of the publisher. This is an insult to both the authors and those who reviewed and accepted the paper.

What 's next? The GM Inquisition forcing researchers to denounce their work and eat GM foods or throwing them to the pyre?

Monsanto Fanboys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556037)

We all know of Apple fanboys here. But Monsanto fanboys? That's definitely a new trend.

Re:Monsanto Fanboys? (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 10 months ago | (#45556105)

I'm more of a no witch hunts fanboy.

Re:Monsanto Fanboys? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556125)

They're not Monsanto fanboys - simply ignorance haters. Monsanto might be corrupt, but they're nowhere near as evil as hippie conspiracy theorists think.

Re:Monsanto Fanboys? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 10 months ago | (#45556443)

I'm firmly in the methodological naturalism fanboy group.

Re:Monsanto Fanboys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556451)

Monsanto is a corporation so they are pretty much amoral. They will do whatever it takes to maximize their profits. Evil included.

I agree that typically they won't pursue profit through actively being evil, as a "hippie conspiracy theorist" would think. That would cause too much public outcry.
But when there are signs that their (profittable) actions may result to evil, they will happilly do everything in their powers to stop any further investigation while squeezing out all the profit they can until their activity is proven harful and banned. For this they successfully play the "innocent until proven guilty" card. Which IMHO must be removed from the deck when it comes to public health issues.

The exact same has happened before with the tobacco industry. Hell, they even advertised smoking as a healthy habit! It took decades until smoking was undeniably declared harmful.

Ignoring the apove and keep pretending that Monsanto is a person who wouldn't even think of doing something bad, that is ignorance.

No surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556151)

Séralini has for years been trying to find evidence to support his theory. He should have been fired years ago.

"The Séralini Paradox"
(as translated by Google)
http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pseudo-sciences.org%2Fspip.php%3Farticle2072

Wrong issues with GMOs (4, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 10 months ago | (#45556175)

Direct health effects of GMO foods are IMHO only the third most important potential concern with GMOs.

The first concern is that whatever you have engineered, it is self-reproducing and could potentially take over a niche in a whole ecosystem, displacing other species or naturually adapted varieties, and you in general could not stop this if it happened. So eco-systems then become fully the responsibility of human biology tweakers.
This seems generally unwise. The consequences of such ecosystem shifts is too complex to be predicted.

A second concern is that each genetic engineering modification needs to be fully assessed separately from all others, due to the complexity of the systems into which they are being inserted. Or at least, very narrow equivalence classes of modifications need each to be individually, and in combination, re-tested for long term effects, viability, viability and effects of likely mutations of the tweak etc, each time they are tweaked.
The cost of such repeated and long term safety testing is well beyond the capability of the companies producing the products, so we can be sure that such rigorous, long term, and repeated (when product is varied) testing is not being done.
Instead, smaller numbers of specific tests on a subset of engineered varieties are generalized in alleged applicability and conclusion, to save money.

So there is still a lot of know unknown and unknown unknown out there, and it is the kind of product that in general, self-reproduces and also expands in range.

Science wins (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 10 months ago | (#45556261)

Science wins and political extremists lose today, and for that progress for humanity is made. Any time a political extremist tries to hijack science to push a political agenda they should be subject to the greatest of scrutiny. Science can and must rise above politics for the greater good of humanity and in this case it did. Here's hoping science can do so in other realms as well.

Rats! (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 10 months ago | (#45556319)

When does ambition or the will to believe begin to look more like fraud?

The biggest criticism from both reviews is that Seralini and his team used only ten rats of each sex in their treatment groups. That is a similar number of rats per group to that used in most previous toxicity tests of GM foods, including Missouri-based Monsanto's own tests of NK603 maize. Such regulatory tests monitor rats for 90 days, and guidelines from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) state that ten rats of each sex per group over that time span is sufficient because the rats are relatively young. But Seralini's study was over two years --- almost a rat's lifespan --- and for tests of this duration, the OECD recommends at least 20 rats of each sex per group for chemical-toxicity studies, and at least 50 for carcinogenicity studies.

Moreover, the study used Sprague-Dawley rats, which both reviews note are prone to developing spontaneous tumors. Data provided to Nature by Harlan Laboratories, which supplied the rats in the study, show that only one-third of males, and less than one-half of females, live to 104 weeks. By comparison, its Han Wistar rats have greater than 70% survival at 104 weeks, and fewer tumors. OECD guidelines state that for two-year experiments, rats should have a survival rate of at least 50% at 104 weeks. If they do not, each treatment group should include even more animals --- 65 or more of each sex.

''There is a high probability that the findings in relation to the tumor incidence are due to chance, given the low number of animals and the spontaneous occurrence of tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats,'' concludes the EFSA report. In response to the EFSA's assessment, the European Federation of Biotechnology --- an umbrella body in Barcelona, Spain, that represents biotech researchers, institutes and companies across Europe --- called for the study to be retracted, describing its publication as a ''dangerous case of failure of the peer-review system.."

Yet Seralini has promoted the cancer results as the study's major finding, through a tightly orchestrated media offensive that began last month and included the release of a book and a film about the work. Only a select group of journalists (not including Nature) was given access to the embargoed paper, and each writer was required to sign a highly unusual confidentiality agreement, seen by Nature, which prevented them from discussing the paper with other scientists before the embargo expired.

Hyped GM maize study faces growing scrutiny [nature.com] [Oct 2012]

Another Greenpeace Lie Exposed (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 10 months ago | (#45556359)

Gilles-Eric Séralini has published a whole series of journal articles purporting to expose the dangers of GMOs, glyposate etc.

They are all lapped up and given great exposure by the mainstream media. They are all pointed at with great glee by the anti-GMO crowd as evidence that GMOs are really really bad for you.

They are all junk science that should have never been published.

The source of most of the funding for this work is Greenpeace.

No doubt there will be more crap like this in the future. Hopefully more people will be able to recognize the fact it's junk science and reject it.

It is amazing that Europe has fallen victim to these jerks. I thought their educational system was better than this. Apparently it's over-rated.

The point has been reached where EU scientists are recognizing the bans on GMOs in Europe are harmful.

http://www.euractiv.com/science-policymaking/chief-eu-scientist-backs-damning-news-530693 [euractiv.com]

Re:Another Greenpeace Lie Exposed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45556447)

how exactly are the bans on GMO harmful ? They promote natural foodstuffs vs the engineered shit produced in labs.

wow! (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 10 months ago | (#45556369)

scientific progress never fails to amaize me.

take that karma!

Actually reading the paper... (2)

queazocotal (915608) | about 10 months ago | (#45556431)

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637 [sciencedirect.com]

The study involved 200 rats, half female, split into 10 groups.
As I understand it, the greatest 'statistical significance' comes from the female rats.

Taking one part, and closely analysing it.
'Up to 14 months, no animals in the control groups showed any signs of tumors whilst 10–30% of treated females per group developed tumors, with the exception of one group (33% GMO + R). By the beginning of the 24th month, 50–80% of female animals had developed tumors in all treated groups, with up to 3 tumors per animal, whereas only 30% of controls were affected.'

Starting with the first statement. 'up to 14 months, 1-3 rats in some of the groups developed tumors, whereas no rats in the control group or the group fed GMO + roundup did' So, of 7 groups, 2 groups were cancer free.

Going onto the next part.
3 rats got cancer in the control group.
5-8 in the other 6 groups.
But, half of those 6 groups were also fed roundup.

So, a total of between 9 and 15 extra rats got cancer, apparantly, if you multiply up the control group.

But - the whole basis of this paper now rests on two rats.
If in the control group at the 24th month, 5 rats would normally have gotten cancer, and 2 happened to get lucky, the paper largely becomes non-statistically significant.

I am not a statistician.

If normally, half of rats get cancer at 24 months, then you would expect 5 rats, not 3 in the control group to have it.
How likely is it that only three rats would die?
Only if this chance is under 5% does the rest of the paper have any weight whatsoever.

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