LONDON (Reuters) – The publisher of a controversial and much-criticized study suggesting genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats has withdrawn the paper after a year-long investigation found it did not meet scientific standards.

Reed Elsevier’s Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT)journal, which published the study by the French researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini in September 2012, said the retraction was because the study’s small sample size meant no definitive conclusions could be reached.

At the time of its original publication, hundreds of scientists across the world questioned Seralini’s research, which said rats fed Monsanto’s GM corn had suffered tumors and multiple organ failure.

The journal said that, while it had received many letters expressing concerns about the validity of the findings, the proper use of animals and even allegations of fraud, its own investigation found “no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data”.

“However, there is a legitimate cause for concern regarding both the number of animals in each study group and the particular strain selected,” it said.

“The major flaws in this paper make its retraction the right thing to do,” said Cathie Martin, a professor at John Innes Centre. “The strain of rats used is highly susceptible to tumors after 18 months with or withoutGMO (genetically modified organisms) in their diets.”

David Spiegelhalter, a professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, said it was “clear from even a superficial reading that this paper was not fit for publication”. In this instance, he said, the peer review process had not worked properly.

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