Séralini’s rat-feeding trial (part 4)

Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini is a French scientist researching pesticides and GM (genetically modified, genetically engineered, GE) crops. A research paper from his team was published in 2012, retracted (withdrawn) in 2013 and republished in 2014. Here it is.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts in which I comment on Prof Séralini’s study.

The study was a feeding trial in which rats (Rattus norvegicus) ate a GM maize (corn, Zea mays) called NK603 from Monsanto and Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) which NK603 had been engineered to resist.

In 2013, the European Commission [EC] announced funding for a two-year carcinogenicity [cancer-causing] study on maize NK603. When the results become available, I’ll tell you about them.

Meanwhile toxicologist Michael Koch of Monsanto, writing on the pro-GM website GMO Answers, says that the new study is pointless. ‘It is difficult, at best, to understand the EU’s rationale for funding any long term feeding studies with GM crops. Presumably, it is because of political pressure created by the sensationalistic media coverage of the feeding trial.’

On the same website Dr Koch says that the ‘real problem’ with Prof Séralini’s study was that it didn’t use enough rats. On this particular point, Dr Koch doesn’t agree with Michael Hansen [Senior Staff Scientist at Consumers Union].

During his testimony about labelling GM foods Dr Hansen said that Prof Séralini ‘took blood and other biochemical measurements on… the same number of rats that Monsanto took measurements on in their 90 day feeding study, which was published in the same journal eight years before the Séralini study. If ten rats is too small a sample size to demonstrate health problems, how come ten rats is a sufficient sample size to demonstrate no safety concerns? As for the strain of rat use,Séralini used the same strain [as in Monsanto’s]… feeding study. In addition, the same strain of rat was used in a Monsanto-sponsored two-year feeding study of rats fed glyphosate as part of a reregistration process in Europe. Why is use of SD rats bad when Séralini uses them, but ok when Monsanto and other biotech companies use them?’

Good point, say I. So does Prof Séralini.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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2 Responses to Séralini’s rat-feeding trial (part 4)

  1. Pingback: New Séralini study shows Roundup damages sperm | Science on the Land

  2. Pingback: Séralini’s rat-feeding trial (part 5) | Science on the Land

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