In a move that set off passionate reactions from all sides, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology withdrew a controversial study by researcher Gilles-Éric Séralini that claimed to find a link between GMO corn and cancer in rats. Since the sample size was so tiny and the breed of rats was genetically prone to tumors anyway, the journal’s peer review board ruled that “no definitive conclusions can be reached” based on the study, and that the data are too “inconclusive” to be presented as solid evidence for anything.
Critics have also slammed the study for failing to use the appropriate tests for statistical significance, and pointed out some seriously unethical treatment of the rats involved: instead of being humanely euthanized, they were left to die slowly of painful tumors.
Despite the heavy criticism of Séralini’s results and methods, the irregular retraction process has still sparked a lot of debate. Take a look at some of the best responses from both sides:
- A look at the background and history of the controversy from Forbes.
- Anti-GMO site GM Watch blames the appointment of a former Monsanto scientist to the editorial board of the journal.
- Skeptical Raptor presents some counterpoints to GM Watch’s criticism.
- Marion Nestle doesn’t like the study, but she doesn’t like the retraction process either.
Whether or not you personally feel that there’s cause for concern about GMO foods, we can all agree that bad science is bad science and deserves to be debunked. But the politics of this particular controversy make it much more complicated – and definitely an issue to keep an eye on in the next few weeks.
In other news recently:
- That Paleo Guy wants us to all stop talking past each other and focus on what we have in common: instead of fixating on tiny minor differences like whether or not we consider dairy to be “Paleo,” we need to work together to make any kind of lasting change.
- Mark Sisson defends the virtues of full-fat dairy.
- Suppversity takes down two “weight-loss” supplements, proving yet again that green tea might be tasty, but it isn’t a one-way ticket to thinness.
- A new study shows that omega-3 fats can cross the blood-brain barrier, indicating them as a potential treatment for dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Another study supposedly “proved” that healthier food costs more, but this is a prime example of why you should never rely on headlines for the truth. Buried inside the full text of the study was this gem:
“healthier versus less healthy nutrient-based diet patterns were not significantly different in price when based on a day’s actual intake, but only cost more when standardised to 2000 kcal.”
Translation: people who eat a lot of cheap calories eat a lot more calories total (probably way more calories than they actually need) because they’re pounding down the Coke and Big Macs. In the real world, people eat fewer calories when they eat unprocessed foods, and the difference evens out. Myth debunked: healthy eating is not unaffordable!