Scientists say Food and Chemical Toxicology gave in to pressure from GMO multinationals in retracting the Séralini study on GM maize and Roundup
A group of Mexican scientists criticized on Wednesday a journal specializing in toxicology for giving in to “pressure” from multinational companies to withdraw a study of the French researcher Gilles-Eric Séralini on the toxicity of transgenic maize in rats.
The retraction of the study from the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (Elsevier group) “has no scientific basis and is in response to pressures from multinational companies that market GM crops,” said Elena Alvarez-Boylla, member of the NGO, Union of Scientists Committed to Society (UCCS), during a press conference in Mexico City .
The study was published in 2012 in the journal and was “previously approved by expert peers”, but on November 19, the publisher announced to the French scientist that his study would be retracted not because the results were incorrect, but because the study was “inconclusive”, recalled Alvarez-Boylla, member of the UCCS.
“But science is inconclusive. Science is continuously self-correcting and supplementing itself, and only rarely does a study achieve definitive results,” added Omar Arellano, a member of the same organization and an ecotoxicology researcher at the public National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
“It is alarming that an editor and a secret group of people make decisions about a previously peer-reviewed and published paper, with a potentially important public impact,” said the scientist from UCCS, an organization concerned about the possible commercialization of transgenic maize in Mexico.
The study found that rats fed with GMO (genetically modified organisms), especially females, died earlier and suffered cancer more often than the others, and these animals also showed [toxic] effects in the kidneys.
Shortly before the editorial decision against the Seralini study, Richard Goodman, a biologist who worked for several years for the US GMO giant Monsanto, joined the editorial board of the magazine.
Monsanto is one of the multinationals in Mexico growing GM yellow corn in a pilot trial after receiving permission to do so by the government in 2011, despite criticism from environmentalists. However, commercialisation is still prohibited.
Mexican scientists disseminated at the conference a letter from David Schubert, researcher and professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California (USA), addressed to President Enrique Peña Nieto.
The letter, sent a month ago, exposes the risks of growing GM maize, as well as the social and political dependence on foreign companies that control the seed market.
Mexico is one of the world’s leading producers of white maize with which tortillas are made, a local food staple. However, Mexico imports from abroad more than seven million tons of yellow maize for livestock and industrial uses.