The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has dismissed a recent study claiming that genetically modified corn caused laboratory rats to develop tumors, saying the study was so badly designed and conducted that it has no scientific validity at all.
The devastating review was published a day after a similar review by a German government agency that reached the same conclusion: the study by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his colleagues means nothing.
“EFSA’s initial review found that the design, reporting and analysis of the study, as outlined in the paper, are inadequate,” the agency said in a news release. “Such shortcomings mean that EFSA is presently unable to regard the authors’ conclusions as scientifically sound. The numerous issues relating to the design and methodology of the study as described in the paper mean that no conclusions can be made about the occurrence of tumors in the rats tested.”
Like other scientists from all over the world, EFSA noted the fact that Seralini - a well-known anti-GMO activist - used a strain of lab rats that are prone to develop tumors as they get older, regardless of what they are fed. It was no surprise, therefore, that some of the rats fed biotech corn in fact developed tumors. But so did some of the rats fed conventional corn.
The number of rats used in the experiment was far below the number needed to prove anything, EFSA noted, and the number of “control” rats fed conventional corn was grossly inadequate. The data were presented in unusual ways that ignored standard statistical methods. Numerous other violations of scientific procedure mean that the reported results of the experiment are meaningless, EFSA said.
“Some may be surprised that EFSA’s statement focuses on the methodology of this study rather than its outcomes; however, this goes to the very heart of the matter,” said Dr. Per Bergman, a GMO expert at EFSA who headed the review.
“When conducting a study it is crucial to ensure a proper framework is in place. Having clear objectives and the correct design and methodology create a solid base from which accurate data and valid conclusions can follow. Without these elements a study is unlikely to be reliable and valid.”
The EFSA review is available at http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2910.htm