Commentary: Worst anti-biotech study ever
It seems that every so often an otherwise reputable journal prints a report or a study that directly counters the scientific consensus, but gee—it just happens to dovetail perfectly with some anti-industry screed one (or more) of the researchers secretly harbors.
Usually, the report contains some kernels of truth, a few nuggets of wisdom and at least a semblance of the scientific method.
However, a new study titled, “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, “does not follow universal standards for a scientific experiment,” according to a statement released by the American Society of Animal Science Board of Directors.
That’s putting it mildly.
Here’s what the controversy’s all about, as an excerpt from the actual study graphically depicts:
“The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup, and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb in water), were studied 2 years in rats,” the authors wrote. “In females, all treated groups died 2 to 3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs. All results were hormone- and sex-dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable. Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than and before controls, the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments.”
The writing isn’t very elegant, but the conclusions are stark. If this research were credible, all of us who have been consuming genetically engineered corn, soy and other food ingredients for the last decade-plus would be in serious trouble.
Only one problem: The study is bunk.
In this study, the control group of rats was fed non-GM corn and Roundup-free water. Unfortunately, the control group had only 10 rats of each sex. Testing just 20 rats cannot generate statistically significant results.The researchers’ conclusions are thus “based on a poorly designed experiment and unreliable statistics,” according to the ASAS statement.
An expert in animal genomics and biotechnology was even harsher.o
“What’s wrong with this study? I can’t even count the ways,” said Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California-Davis. “The authors refused to share their data with other scientists, they didn’t perform a statistical analysis of the data and the strain of rats they used is known to spontaneously develop tumors.