French scientists dismiss GM corn study; want full data

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In a rare move, France’s six scientific academies issued a statement rejecting the controversial study, which claimed to find increased tumor rates and early mortality of rats fed genetically modified corn. The academies dismissed the study, which was led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, a scientist with the University of Caen.

“This work does not enable any reliable conclusion to be drawn,” the scientists said in their statement. They added that the affair helped “spread fear among the public.”

“Given the numerous gaps in methods and interpretation, the data presented in this article cannot challenge previous studies, which have concluded that NK603 is harmless from the health point of view, as are, more generally, genetically modified plants that have been authorized for consumption by animals and humans … Hyping the reputation of a scientist or a team is a serious misdemeanor when it helps to spread fear among the public that is not based on any firm conclusion,” the academies said.

In addition to the six academies turning on Seralini, more than 700 scientists and academics have signed a petition urging Seralini to release his research data behind the controversial study. These scientists join research institutions around the world in asking Seralini and his colleagues to release more details of the study. Seralini has not responded to the requests.

“The serious demands by Seralini that regulatory bodies and the public make decisions about how food is grown based on his report require that the be transparent about the means and measures by which he has drawn conclusions,” said Klaus Ammann, Ph.D., plant systems professor of the Swiss government’s Biosafety Committee and professor at the University of Bern. “Anything less than the normal, full disclosure of data, leaves us all victims of political manipulation and highly theatrical propaganda — this is not science.”

If the data is not forthcoming, petitioners have called on the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology to retract the study. The journal has released a statement saying that it will publish letters criticizing the study and a response from Seralini in an upcoming edition.

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