GMO Food News: Science Journal Retracts Study Bashing Genetically Modified Food

Source: Lindsay Eyink, via Wikimedia Commons 

In November of last year, Food and Chemical Toxicology -- a peer-reviewed scientific journal -- came out with a study that was a goldmine for opponents of GMO food. The study claimed that rats who fed on GM corn created by Monsanto (NYSE: MON  )  treated with the company's Roundup herbicide were more likely to develop mammary tumors and die prematurely.

The study became highly contentious in the months that followed. Those who are against GMOs -- for a variety of reasons -- claimed it was the first shoe to drop in an onslaught of evidence pointing to the toll such crops would take on human health. Those in favor of GMOs -- members of the scientific community in particular -- had serious reservations about the conclusions drawn by the study.

Source: Rosalee Yogihara, via Wikimedia Commons 

In an effort to put an end to the debate, the journal officially announced a full retraction of the study's publication last week.

What went wrong
Although Food and Chemical Toxicology "unequivocally found no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of data," on the part of authors, there were two glaring errors that led to the study's retraction.

The first was the fact that the number of rats included in the study was simply too low to warrant such conclusions. The second and more alarming concern was the fact that Sprauge-Dawley rats -- the type used in the study -- have a notoriously high incidence of tumors even under normal circumstances. It could not, therefore, be definitively concluded that the sickness found in the rats fed genetically modified food was outside the range of normal variability. 

What it means for investors and consumers
Though the retraction wasn't a huge surprise, the news is nonetheless good for Monsanto, as well as fellow GMO manufacturers Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW  ) , DuPont (NYSE: DD  ) , and Syngenta (NYSE: SYT  ) . This represents a string of public relations wins for these companies, following the defeat of Washington's I-522 initiative, which would have mandated the labeling of all foods containing GMOs.

It's important to note what this retraction means and what it doesn't mean. To date, there are no reputable scientific organizations that have found evidence of human damage caused by GMOs. At the same time, the retraction doesn't mean the magazine supports GMOs, just that the conclusions drawn from this one study aren't supported by the facts.

As it stands, GMOs are relatively new, with the first publicly available GMO foods entering the market just 20 years ago. While human health is the most serious concern for scientists, there are also questions of environmental degradation and the concentration of worldwide cash crop seeds in the hands of a select few.

It will be years before we can say for certain whether or not genetically modified foods are a good idea, but one thing is for sure: those who produce them have been winning the PR battle lately -- for the first time in a long time.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2013, at 11:20 AM, getthetruth2 wrote:

    This is a typical story on GM crops. It is at least balanced compared to many of the Fool Blogs.

    Here is a reality. In these studies there are never enough rats tested, but when you conduct this type of test if you think you see an effect, it should be sronger with a higher dose. This is not what happenned in this study - the reverse happened the cancer rate was lower than the control at higher dose. Which means GM food cures cancer. Which may be true in that Bt corn reduces aflatoxin which can cause cancer but this study didn't say that and didn't say anything.

    This wouldn't stop the anti-Monsantoites. They are already saying that Monsanto forced the retraction. They ignore the fact that no educated government scientific agency has come out in support of the conclusions to this study - not even the French ! When teh French support Monsanto rather than a French researcher you know the French researcher must have been not well regarded - or at least the study. The anti-Monsantoites will just say it just shows how powerful Monsanto is.

    Monsanto makes food - they don't.

    They sue farmers who accidental grow GM crops - they don't.

    GM crops cause cancer - they don't.

    GM crops increase insecticide use - the opposite is true.

    GM crops cause Indian suicides - they don't -the reverse is true.

    GM crops reduce diversity - they don't,.

    GM crops are only sold by a few companies - they are not.

    ........................on and one and on...........

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2013, at 11:42 AM, funfundvierzig wrote:

    "Although Food and Chemical Toxicology 'unequivocally found no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of data' ,..."

    Hmmmm..."no evidence of fraud"? Mais oui.


  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2013, at 12:38 PM, Biloxi8 wrote:

    Monsanto and their cronies with their Mafia style approach, blackmail, intimidation tactics are very suspicious indeed.

    There is no long term scientific proof on the safety of GMO crops, therefore they are not SAFE!! Just like asbestos, it could take decades before they kill you! The refusal the label it makes it even more suspicious. 1000's of acres of GMO fields were burned in Oregon state and and in the EU this year. I doubt that people would burn food unless they really consider it toxic.

    The Peer-reviewed studies are even more ridiculous. This is what the GMO food safety organization had published with 57 contributors:

    "With respect to the detection of potential unintended effects in whole GM food and feed, it is unlikely that substances present in small amounts and with a low toxic potential will result in any observable (unintended) effects in a 90-day rodent feeding study, as they would be below the no-observed-effect-level and thus of unlikely impact to human health at normal intake levels."

    A scientific article using out of the thin air statements like "unlikely". Based on what?

    Some bacteria can digest arsenic without any adverse effects on the organism. So it is deduced that if it did not kill the bacteria it would be "unlikely" to affect humans. OOOps you are dead!

    It is clear that besides the potential health hazards of GMO food and crops, the vast quantities of pesticides (Round up) used with GMOs, are poisoning our environment.

    Our survival is at stake here, so keep burning those GMO crops!

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2013, at 7:53 AM, webmastersol wrote:

    I have problems to understand the shareholders of Monsanto. Large Insider Sales, share repurchase progeamms, they do everything to mislead consumers and shareholders. They will continue until the wind change. And the wind will change. Monsanto has no stand in the

    fast growing Asia markets. Mon is very expensive, PE of 20 and Market Cap is 8 times higher than Net tangible Assets. The growth has slowed down, valuation is no longer justifiable.

    Compare Mon with CGA:

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 10:37 PM, Weitzhuis wrote:
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