Author Threatens To Sue Journal That Retracted Study Linking GMO Corn, Herbicides to Rat Tumors

French Scientist Threatens Lawsuit

By Rhonda J. Miller on November 30, 2013 9:53 PM EST

Genetically Modified Corn Controversy Re-Ignited
A study by French professor of molecular biology Gilles-Eric Seralini that claimed rats fed on genetically modified corn had a high incidence of tumors was retracted from the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. (Photo: EatingFourLife.com / Rhonda J. Miller)

The author of a controversial study on rats that developed tumors after eating genetically modified (GM) corn has threatened to sue the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology after it announced that it is retracting his paper from the publication.

French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini, founding director of the anti-GMO research group CRIIGEN (the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering) and author of the controversial study linking GM corn to tumors and organ failure in rats, said the journal's criticism of his work was "unacceptable," according to a Nov. 29 article in Forbes .

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The science publisher Elsevier retracted the paper from the journal after criticism from members of the scientific community.

The study, "Long-term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant Genetically Modified Maize," by Seralni, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, was originally published in the Nov. 2012 issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology.

In the paper Seralini suggests that rats fed biotech company Monsanto's NK603 GMO corn — which is tolerant to the herbicide Roundup — for their entire lives, developed more pathologies and tumors, according to a Nov. 29 article in the magazine Sciences et AvenirThe paper brought strong reactions as well as critical questioning of the evaluation procedures for genetically modified plants, according to the magazine.

The editor-in-chief of Food and Chemical Toxicology asked Seralini to withdraw the paper in mid-November because "the results presented are inconclusive and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication," and "there is legitimate cause for concern regarding both the number of animals in each study group and the particular strain of rats selected," Sciences et Avenir reported.

The Food and Chemical Toxicology editor said that, "the low number of animals had been identified as a cause for concern during the initial review process" but that "the peer review decision ultimately weighed that the work still had merit despite this limitation."

Séralini refused to retract his article, arguing that the strain of rat he used — Sprague-Dawleys — is used routinely in the United States, including sometimes by Monsanto, to study carcinogenicity and the chronic toxicity of chemical products. .

"The disturbance of sexual hormones or other parameters are sufficient in themselves, in our case, to interpret a serious effect after one year," Seralini said, and the "the chronology and number of tumors per animal have been taken into account," according to Sciences et Avenir.

Despite Seralini's unwillingness to retract the article, Elsevier announced on Nov. 28 that the article would be retracted.

"This retraction comes after a thorough and time-consuming analysis of the published article and the data it reports, along with an investigation into the peer-review behind the article," said the announcement

"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. Ultimately, the results presented, while not incorrect, are inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology," the Nov. 28 announcement said."The editor-in-chief again commends the corresponding author for his willingness and openness in participating in this dialog.The retraction is only on the inconclusiveness of this one paper."

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