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Organic Consumers Association

EU Bureaucrats Criticized for Double Standards on GMO Safety Studies

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

The controversy about the Seralini et al. study, which reported negative health effects of Monsanto's NK603 GM maize and Roundup herbicide fed to rats over the long term, is still going on. According to a new review published in Environmental Sciences Europe, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) used unscientific double standards to dismiss the Seralini study on genetically modified (GM) maize.

The publication of this latest review comes just days after the retraction of the Seralini paper by Elsevier, the publisher of Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), on the unprecedented grounds of the "inconclusive" nature of some of the findings. ENSSER condemned the retraction.

The Seralini study triggered an immediate storm of criticism by scientists and organizations, most of whom are known for their support of GMOs and their pleas for sweeping deregulation of GM plants in the EU and relaxation or even abandonment of risk assessment standards.

Retrospective and selective application of new standards by EFSA

In September 2012, the European Commission asked EFSA to review the Seralini study. EFSA did so by retrospectively applying new standards released in 2011 to scientific work that Seralini planned and started in 2008. EFSA concluded that the Seralini study was "inadequate".

But EFSA did not apply these same standards retrospectively to the original rat feeding study by Monsanto, even though the underlying design for the Monsanto study was later repeated by Seralini. The Monsanto study concluded that this same GM maize was safe to eat, resulting in the approval for consumption of this GM crop by millions of animals and EU citizens in 2005.

EFSA review undermined the basic principles of science

Hartmut Meyer, one of the authors of the new review, said, "Use of such double standards is a common response from scientists calling for GMO deregulation and, somewhat surprisingly, also from some government authorities, to studies that show negative environmental and health effects of GMOs. Only those studies that find problems are subjected to excessive scrutiny and rejected as defective. This approach appears to be a tactic to avoid dealing with 'inconvenient' results, whilst selecting for 'convenient' results."

The new review then applied the same criteria used by EFSA to reject the Seralini study to 21 other 1-2-year feeding studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals during the last 20 years. Those studies did not test feed derived from GM plants but mostly chemicals, used the same strain of rat, similar low numbers of tested animals and likewise modified protocols that extended or diverged to some degree from the strict OECD protocols and EFSA criteria as both Seralini and Monsanto did.   


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