Controversial French biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini’s report in BioMed Research International describes how pesticides kill cultured human cells, with the hair-raising conclusion that pesticides may be vastly more toxic than assumed by regulatory authorities. Some scientists are criticizing the findings as neither surprising nor significant—but they have touched off a firestorm, with environmental groups calling for changes in how pesticides are regulated.
Toxicologists have reservations about the study. “There are issues in terms of its design and execution, as well as its overall tone,” writes Michael Coleman, a toxicologist at Aston University in Birmingham, U.K., in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. “Anything is toxic in high concentration, the question is whether the toxicity is relevant to the levels of the agents we are ingesting. This paper does not seem to address this issue at all.” Martin van den Berg, a toxicologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, says the paper deserved to be reviewed. But he, too, questions the experimental design. “The endpoints observed are so general that we could probably find the same kind of toxicity with lemon juice or grapefruit extract,” he says. “It’s not new or shocking. It is what I would have expected at the level he is giving this to the cells.” Séralini dismisses the criticisms as biased. “I recognize the remarks of industry in that,” he tells ScienceInsider.
Read the full, original article: Pesticide Study Sparks Backlash