Séralini feed contamination study: PLOS under fire for not following own guidelines on data access

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.

–Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In the current publishing environment, there are a range of options for submitting research papers, among academic publishers that have different levels of rigor in their expectations and enforcement of policies to share data used in writing the papers. Access to the data is crucial, as increasingly large data sets aren’t always clear presented in the traditional publishing environment; only portions of the data may be touched on in the narrative paper body.

But with the Internet, it’s now easier to provide supplemental files or point to data repositories for large collections of underlying results. This permits readers to take an independent look at the actual evidence, disentangled from the interpretations of the researchers involved. Some journals are particularly good about making sure that the data and code on which a study is based are available to readers who wish to explore them to help better understand the claims that are made in a research paper, or who might wish to re-examine or expand on the work.

One particularly admirable policy is that of the PLOS journals. This Open Access publisher states that it is its policy to make the science available to everyone, with “unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse.” This commitment, coupled with their strong and well-defined “Data Availability” policies, should ensure that data from published work is readily available to readers. Its stated policies includes this very clear statement:

PLOS journals require authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exception.

PLOS describes numerous ways to make the data available to conform to this policy. Data can be placed in public repositories or provided as supplemental files. Only in rare cases, such as situations that would impinge on patient privacy, would data sharing restrictions be considered valid reasons to withhold certain data types.

But when a paper was published in PLOSOne last summer, and some irregularities and curious conclusions in the text were noticed by readers, scientists began to ask for access to the underlying data which wasn’t available with the paper, counter to PLOS stated policies. And thus began a trip down a rabbit hole that shared many of the perplexing characteristics of Alice’s Wonderland fictional rabbit hole.

Séralini saga

On July 2 2015, a team led by Gilles-Eric Séralini published Laboratory Rodent Diets Contain Toxic Levels of Environmental Contaminants: Implications for Regulatory Tests

On PLOSOne. The scientists said that they had tested a variety of animal chows for various potentially contaminating substances. Their analysis claimed to show that pesticides and heavy metals in laboratory animal foods were at levels that would impact the animal’s health, and subsequently undermine the conclusions from any research endeavor. This led to the team to call into question all animal testing data and the subsequent effects the data would have on policy decisions. In fact, this is a pretty bold conclusion:

All these data taken together invalidate the use of historical control data and questions the use of at least 50 rats per group in carcinogenicity studies.

Claiming that all historical control data are invalid is a serious charge.

Immediately, though, it was clear that their conclusions didn’t match the claims all that well. Missing data, and concerns about the statistical evaluations, were noted by readers. So a quest by scientists for access to the underlying data began as early as the day after the paper was posted. Bill Price, a statistician at the University of Idaho, wrote:Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.42.41 PM

Price requested the data for the tested samples, as the summary data provided were insufficient to understand how the data had been treated in the analysis. The “Seralini_group” evaded the issue of data access in a reply:

The European Commission guideline 2002/63/CE is not about biological replicates and statistics, but about sampling methods. Measurements were performed "one-shot" by a validated method, as indicated in the Material and Methods. All the raw data of the study is presented in the supplementary file.

Price went on to explain clearly why the authors’ statement and data files were insufficient, and why non-summarized data are nencessary. Again, the authors evaded the issue of access to the data, which was all that Price requested. This was not satisfactorily resolved publicly in the comment section.

On July 4, two days after publication, I replied to this thread requesting access to the data because I had noted that a test for an herbicide, critical to the paper, appeared to be absent from the published data.

I was also interested in the raw data for pesticides, and was disappointed that it was not yet included. I was curious to see if the omission of glufosinate from Table 1 was just an oversight, or if really was not tested. The paper speaks to not having detected other herbicides, but if you didn't look for one used with the GMOs tested that's hardly a statement to be confident about.

In the paper, the team claimed to have tested the diets to see if they contained glufosinate tolerance traits: “3 were glufosinate tolerant (DAS1507 and T25 maize, MS8RF3 oilseed rape)”. But we don’t have evidence that the presence of the herbicide glufosinate (also known in Europe as phosphinothricin) is among the tested contaminants. It does not appear in Table 1 (Table 1, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128429.t001). A quick look at the individual sample data would clarify if it was actually not tested, or if this figure was just missing this item. Séralini and co-authors had written:

As a matter of fact, glyphosate and AMPA, the only herbicide residues detected, were only found in Roundup-tolerant GMO-containing diets, and no herbicides were detected in other samples.

Is this a “matter of fact”? Or did you not test for glufosinate? If you didn’t test it, this statement is a bogus conclusion and should be corrected. If you did, fix the error in the table. And let’s see the data.

But there were other observations in question, too. A tongue-in-cheek re-analysis of the summary data, by Andrew Kniss, a researcher at the University of Wyoming, actually showed a conclusion entirely contrary to the researchers’ claims: the presence of GMO content was associated with reduced hazard.Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.43.10 PM

 

Further challenging Séralini’s claims, the most “hazardous” feed came from Italy, a country that does not grow GMOs.

There were numerous other data-related issues with this paper. The authors had not been fully disclosing about their conflicts of interest, which corrected by the PLOS editorial staff. And researchers familiar with the type of analysis in this paper were critical of the inappropriate methods and resulting conclusions. Misleading claims about the levels of the hazards and the interactions of contaminants were illustrated by researchers in the field.

PLOS editors unresponsive

Still there has been no release of the data. If it were to be released, some of the questionable matters could be resolved. Or we would be able to build on this data for another more exacting analysis. The stated mission of PLOS includes a commitment to Open Access, which it describes as “Open Access (OA) stands for unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse.” We merely ask for this access.

After the public requests were dismissed by the Séralini research team in the comments section of the paper, on July 9, I requested the assistance of the Data Team at PLOS on this matter. On July 24, the staff wrote me to say that the authors claimed that everything I had asked for was in the supplemental files. I explained that this was not the case, for the same reasons illustrated above. The PLOS publications assistant then bumped the issue to Deputy Editor Dr. Iratxe Puebla. On July 27 I was told this was now under discussion with the Academic Editor, and I would be notified of the outcome. I waited for updates.

By mid-August, having heard nothing, I requested to know the status of this matter. This request was ignored. On September 3, I raised it again. This was not acknowledged. On September 14, I asked again. Finally, I obtained this reply:

I  confirm that we are pursuing your concerns about the article. I contacted the Academic Editor in relation to your concerns and the queries about the dataset, and I have approached the authors to request a response to the issues raised and a clarification about the measurements carried out, and the need to supply data for all relevant measurements. I am awaiting a response from the authors and we will establish the most appropriate course of action once we receive their response. (Iratxe Puebla)

Well, that seemed promising. PLOS seemed to understand the issue and were taking it seriously. On September 23 I was told there had been contact with the authors. But as I was still not provided any data, I assumed they had refused to deliver it, contrary to PLOS policies.

Hearing nothing for a month, I followed up. There was a deafening silence. On November 10, I made my final request for an update on this matter. Nothing but silence, again. I offered to include a statement from the PLOS editor in contact with me on the matter with my public comments. None was forthcoming.

European regulators reject Séralini claims because of poor quality of data

So if you have stayed with me as I related my multi-month journey down a rabbit hole, we find ourselves still falling. Not only was there no data to be found, there was also the worrying failure by PLOS and its editorial staff to uphold the publication’s stated data policy. As I had made clear to the PLOS team, this research was being used in an attempt to impact regulatory policy, and it was crucial that the public has access to the data. While this drama was playing out, the Séralini team’s claims that their findings invalidated feeding studies used for regulations were dismissed by independent European regulators partly due to “incomplete reporting of the data”. Petard meet hoist.

Remaining questions for the Séralini team persist. Why won’t you provide the data as promised and required by your publishing journal? Did you or did you not test the other herbicide? If not, will you correct your claims? If so, will you fix the erroneous table? Are there other aspects of the data that are also questionable?

Ironically, not too long ago, the Séralini team had issued this appropriate statement about providing open access to data:

We ask for a free and transparent exchange of scientific findings, mainly when these are related to public health and environmental risks.The public release of these raw data will reveal if significant differences observed between test and control groups in both studies are coherent and if the statistics are of sufficient power in both cases, thereby allowing the design of appropriate follow-up experiments by others, perhaps through a publically discussed and agreed protocol. (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2013. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2012.11.007)

And yet when Séralini was faced with actually following his own prescriptions for disclosure, he went into hiding. Alas. Transparency for thee, but not for we…?

PLOS under ethical microscope

Questions for PLOS’s editorial staff exist. This very clear case remains unresolved many months after the offending paper appeared. Do you really require that researchers must provide their data, or not?

If not — you are in danger of being perceived as journal in which questionable studies are published and promoted without any requirement that submitters need back up their claims? I would be surprised and saddened to find out this was the case. I hope this can still be resolved appropriately by the editorial team.

I admire the philosophy of the PLOS journals, with Open Access for the work and the availability of the data for mining and re-use. Just last month one of the PLOS founders, Michael Eisen, re-stated this important feature of their mission.Screen Shot 2015-12-13 at 9.44.23 PM

Mining opportunities are a great outcome of open access. And I wish the concept to succeed. But it’s not enough that a paper is open access. You need to insist that the data be provided.

Researcher accountability

A larger question, though, is what can we do about researchers who make bold claims, but won’t open their work to public review? Where can we turn when the process fails? It’s hard enough these days to distinguish credible journals from predatory pay to play ones. We need to hold the legitimate publishers to their own stated standards. Which means they need to press researchers to live up to their policies. The media needs to know when a story pitched to them is legitimate or not. Government agencies that make policy decisions need to know this too. There are downstream effects of all of this bad behavior.

There should be consequences. But what is the route? Or is it just a deep rabbit hole that lands us in a place where fiction and absurdity rule? That shouldn’t be the outcome. Both the Séralini team and PLOS are derelict in their duties to the public here. But this can be fixed. Just show us the data.

Mary Mangan, Ph.D., received her education in microbiology, immunology, plant cell biology, and mammalian cell, developmental, and molecular biology. She co-founded OpenHelix, a company providing training on open source software associated with the burgeoning genomics arena, over a decade ago. All comments here are her own, and do not represent her company or any other company. You can contact Mary via twitter: @mem_somerville

  • mem_somerville

    Since I was preparing this piece, I also found out that others are having similar problems with access to data at PLOS journals.

    https://twitter.com/christianmunthe/status/675721573463142400

    and

    https://twitter.com/EmilKarlsson/status/677158511663517696

    This means it’s not just an issue of one set of authors who don’t wish to follow the rules. It’s a pattern.

    • JR

      Without the requisite enforcement, their editorial policy sounds look like fluff to make people feel good. Have any papers been retracted because of failure to provide data?

      • mem_somerville

        That’s a good question. We should search Retraction Watch.

    • Klaas van Dijk

      Mary, any idea about the details of the paper in PLOS Medicine of which Emil Karlsson was unable to get the data? Any idea if there is already a Pubpeer entry of this paper?

  • Klaas van Dijk

    Please note that there is until now no evidence that Iratxe Puebla holds a PhD. An email to PLOS from 4 September 2015 with a request for evidence about this part of the formal education of Iratxe Puebla remained unanswered until now (I did receive an auto-response, case 04153051). My request was a response on an e-mail from PLOS, dated 4 September 2015, in which it was stated “In her role as Deputy Editor for PLOS ONE, Dr. Puebla does consult with COPE as
    she has extensive experience in the area of publication ethics.”
    .
    My contacts with Iratxe Puebla focus around her side-activities at COPE. Iratxe is in charge to process three complaints I had filed at COPE against publisher Taylor & Francis, see
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7 and
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/7DA806A8062EF9474F1A53717B9D1D#fb36200 for the backgrounds and the details.
    .
    Iratxe Puebla wrote to me on 26 July 2015 that she would contact publisher Taylor & Francis about my complaints and that I would get in cc the correspondence (see the link). I received nothing until now, despite numerous reminders to loads and loads of people and institutes. PLOS is currently in charge, as Iratxe is employed by PLOS.
    .
    Please note that Iratxe is currently listed as Managing Editor for PLOS ONE. I was also unable to sort out at the website of COPE and at the website of PLOS that Iratxe Puebla is both in charge as consultant for COPE and as employee for PLOS ONE. I tend to think that such activities of Iratxe Puebla need to be disclosed at both websites.
    .
    I am very worried to read that it seems that there is no progress at all to get access to the raw research data of the Seralini et al paper. I am very disappointed in the behaviour until now of Iratxe Puebla to help readers to get access to the raw research data and it seems to me that there are similarities with my experiences with Iratxe Puebla.
    .
    I propose to stop with asking for the raw data and in stead send a formal request to PLOS ONE to retract the Seralini et al paper when the authors continue with their refusal to provide others with a full set of the raw research data. Mention a deadline in this request, for example one month (or one week).
    .
    Please note that PLOS has also not yet provided a single piece of evidence of their claim that Iratxe Puebla has “extensive experience in the area of publication ethics.”. I have requested PLOS to provide me the evidence (per e-mail, dated 4 September 2015). I do have an auto-reply (and loads and loads of other auto-replies from PLOS ONE about these issues), but not yet contact with Iratxe Puebla.
    .
    Please contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in my texts.

    • mem_somerville

      Curiously, Klaas, on a completely unrelated matter at another journal I had to go to COPE. Guess who was assigned to this other matter? I was stunned when the email rolled into my inbox.

  • Klaas van Dijk

    Dear Mary, thanks alot for your quick and friendly response. There are some recent cases from The Netherlands which you can use to start a scientific dialogue with Iratxe Puebla and PLOS ONE.

    .
    “Declines in insectivorous birds are associated with high neonicotinoid concentrations” is the title of a recent paper in Nature ( http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13531.html ). There were press releases about this paper and there was much media attention when it was published. The company Bayer is the manufacturer of imidacloprid (the most widely used neonicotinoid). You can imagine that Bayer was not amused when this paper was published. So Bayer immediately asked all parties to get access to all the raw research data of this paper. This was an unusual request for one of the private parties. Bayer of course got quickly access to all the raw research data of this paper. The scientists employed by Bayer will of course do all they can to rebut the claims in this paper by conducting recalculations (etc.). That’s how science is working.
    .
    Within The Netherlands, all scientists affiliated to all 14 research universities must always work for the full 100% to the VSNU “Code of Conduct for Academic Practice” ( http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/code-wetenschapsbeoefening-14-en.pdf and http://www.rug.nl/about-us/organization/rules-and-regulations/algemeen/gedragscodes-nederlandse-universiteiten/wetenschappelijke-integriteit-12-en.pdf , both are connected to each other through item 10 in the Preamble of the Code). This is already the case since 1 January 2005. Sharing raw research data of published information to others is mandatory (see item 3.3 of the Code). Its just part of one of the key principles ( Verifiability ).
    .
    A refusal of Dutch scientists to share raw data will be punished by the university, see http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2015/07/01/universiteit-integriteit-in-geding-bij-taalfoutonderzoek for a recent verdict by RUG (= University of Groningen) about language researchers who refused to provide others access to the raw research data of a PhD thesis at RUG.
    .
    Jens Förster (formerly employed by UvA, University of Amsterdam) is a recent example of a researcher who got punished because he claimed that he had thrown away all his raw research data of his recent papers. See for example http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0132885 for a recent replication study of one of the papers of Jens Förster of which Jens Förster claimed that he had thrown away all the raw research data.
    .
    Note that it is very easy for you, for me, and for all other readers of this new paper in PLOS ONE, to get access to all the raw research data of this new paper (just a few clicks, and tiny parts of the raw data are even in German).

  • Kenneth W. Witwer

    I interacted with the editor you mention and others at PLOS ONE after identifying data accessibility problems in microRNA datasets (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23358751).
    Of a small number of PLOS ONE studies with missing data that I followed up on, two were retracted by the authors after they responded to journal requests for data and the data were faulty or didn’t support their claims. For the others, putative investigations continued, but there is no outcome almost three years later.
    In August, 2015, I contacted Puebla and some more senior people at PLOS ONE to learn about the outcome of these investigations and to request missing data from two more recent articles. After “we will get back to you soon” messages in September and October, I have heard nothing more. The editors have not responded to follow-up messages.
    To be fair, PLOS ONE is not the only journal with these problems; the incredible volume of studies they publish means editors might be swamped; and of course PLOS ONE is often a destination for manuscripts that won’t be published elsewhere. But PLOS ONE should be careful not to lose more credibility by not enforcing their guidelines.

    • mem_somerville

      Hmm. This is beginning to look like a pattern. And I agree, these things can take time and they may be busy. So I didn’t expect it to be resolved immediately. But 6 months for a very simple request seems to have been enough time for clarity on whether the data will come or not.

      • Kenneth W. Witwer

        I agree. I also like Klaas’s suggestion that a statement of concern should be the standard response to any substantive evidence that data are being withheld.

        • Kenneth W. Witwer

          As a result of the conversations here, I decided to follow up with the editors on two recent issues I had raised previously in three and six emails, respectively, over the course of four months. I was pleasantly surprised to have a reply this morning on both. The editor apologized for not getting back to me before and said the journal would look into both matters. This is obviously a positive development, but it also means that no action has yet been taken.

  • Klaas van Dijk

    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0100716 is an example of a paper in PLOS ONE with a formal “Expression of Concern” (indicated in red) because the authors were unwilling to provide a reader full access to (parts of) the raw research data of this paper.
    .
    Mary indicates that she was not always acknowledged when sending a new request. As far as I am aware, e-mails to plosone@plos.org always provide a nice auto-response. Please note that this is only the case when all details automatically added by PLOS (in the Subject and in the text) have been removed in the follow-up e-mail which is send to plosone@plos.org I refer to items like ‘Case 04315909’ ‘PL#0N3_AR’ and ‘ref:_00DU0Ifis._500U0OHudX:ref’ (and note that PLOS automatically also adds such a Code at the bottom of a long e-mail thread. Please note as well that the auto-response is using plosjournals@plos.org (so not plosone@plos.org).
    .
    Anyway, a (tacit) permission from all authors and from all affiliations that all interested readers have full access to all the raw research data is just ‘part of the deal’ when submitting a manuscript for PLOS ONE. So I suggest all readers to keep sending daily reminders to plosone@plos.org (see above how to get an auto-reply) when they are confronted by a refusal of authors and/or affilations to get unrestricted access to the raw research data, and urge Iratxe Puebla to issue immediately (= the same day) a formal Expression of Concern attached to the paper (in red), and with a text which is more or less similar to the text in http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0100716
    .
    I also would like to advice to all of these readers to inform PLOS ONE that there is a limited period of time that the paper in question can be flagged with such an Expression of Concern (in red), for example one week, one month, or half a year. This fixed period of time (a deadline) can be used by PLOS ONE to persuade the authors and/or the affilations to change their opinion in regard to their refusal to give readers unrestricted access to (parts of) the raw research data.
    .
    Passing the deadline withhout any progress from the side of authors / affiliations and/or from the side of PLOS ONE implies of course that PLOS ONE will need to retract the paper. There is simply no other option for PLOS ONE. Just keep sending friendly reminders, for example on a daily basis, and just as long as you either get full access to the requested raw research data, or that PLOS ONE has retracted the paper. Making a decision at PLOS that a paper needs to be retracted is a matter of days. This was told to me by an EiC of a journal who once was trainee (or something like that) at the office of PLOS. This journal in question is by the way not a member of COPE. The EiC of this journal handled very quickly when he got an e-mail that a recently published paper contained unpublished data from an ongoing PhD project of which the lead author had no permission to use it for the paper. So the paper got retracted, and within days after the EiC became aware of this issue.
    .
    Retracting a paper because the authors and/or their affilations are unwilling to provide readers full and unrestricted access to (parts of) the raw research data is of course humiliating for both the authors and the affiliations, but that’s just ‘part of the deal’. You can’t have both, and the authors thus need to make a choice:

    (1): have a nice paper in PLOS ONE on your CV and accept that all interested readers have unrestricted access to all raw research data of their nice paper in PLOS ONE, or

    (2): have a retracted paper in PLOS ONE on your CV because (parts of) the raw research data of this paper were not available for interested readers.

    • mem_somerville

      So I took that first “expression of concern” paper and searched Pubmed to see what happens. 1) That appears as a separate item in pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0100716

      and 2) You can search for the editors to see a good list of papers with issues. This gets to JohnDoe’s question above. Just click the editors link on that paper to see.

      The original paper entry in PubMed does have a line for expression of concern. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24465625 But those of us who are trying to get the data should also comment at PubMed, I think, as a public service.

      • Klaas van Dijk

        Dear Mary, https://pubpeer.com/ is a great way to inform a wide audience of peers and others about your concerns with the Séralini et al paper in PLOS ONE. This paper has not yet an entry (other papers of Séralini do have an entry with comments). All comments at PubMed Commons are mirrored at Pubpeer, which implies that until now also no one has posted a comment about this paper at PubMed Commons. Authors are automatically informed when one of their papers gets and entry at Pubpeer and of course authors can also join the debate at Pubpeer.
        .
        So I would like to advise you to make an account at Pubpeer (in case you have not yet an account) and post your concerns about this paper at Pubpeer. You can just make a short posting with a link to this blog.
        .
        I also advise all others who are confronted with an apparent refusal of PLOS ONE in regard to unrestricted access to the raw data to make an entry at Pubpeer of this PLOS ONE paper (first check if there is already and entry) with a remark about the issues, so all readers at Pubpeer are also informed that (parts of) the raw data are unavailable.
        .
        Kenneth Witwer (see above) reported a similar problem with PLOS ONE / Iratxe Puebla (“we will get back to you soon” messages, without any follow-up) as I also have experienced with PLOS ONE / Iratxe Puebla (et. al.).
        .
        His nice paper (open access, see http://www.clinchem.org/content/59/2/392.long ) states: “These findings buttress the hypothesis that reluctance to share data is associated with low study quality and suggest that most miRNA array investigations are underpowered and/or potentially compromised by a lack of appropriate reporting and data submission.” This is a good motive that also these PLOS ONE papers need an entry at Pubpeer, so all peers and others are aware that there are problems in regard to unrestricted access to the raw data of these PLOS ONE papers.

  • Scott Williams
    • mem_somerville

      Yeah, can’t win on science so he has to try the courts. Pathetic.

  • Wackes Seppi
  • Jim Tomasko

    Ms. Mangan, you are absolutely wrong to assert that Seralini was the leader of this team of researchers. Robin Mesagne was the leader and primary author, and G.E. Seralini was the 5th and last author. I’m pretty sure that the last author isn’t the leader, by doing the least amount of work. But I completely understand why you are trying to tie this article to Seralini, as he has already been ‘discredited’ by the biotech community making it easier to discredit this paper.

    As far as the authors not disclosing raw data after being requested, do you remember what the published response(s) was to the original controversy of the Seralini Rat study? They said they would provide raw data, when Monsanto provided the data from their unpublished studies. I don’t blame Mesagne for not wanting to release the raw data, the playing field isn’t level. The unpublished Monsanto glyphosate studies from the 1980’s/etc are very important, because they account for over 75% of the ‘scientific’ references for the EPA reevaluation and original approval process. If Monsanto science is so good, why are they afraid to publish it and make it public for academics to review? University Researchers cannot access any of these exclusive studies that have driven laws and policies.

    And it was a brilliant idea to test feed used in lab testing for contaminants, because out food supply is so polluted. How sure are you that some of this food isn’t grown in places like China where the lands are so contaminated with heavy metals, that this would show up in Mesagne’s study? And glyphosate residues are present in transgenic foods (herbicide resistant ones). You watch though, no scientists will ever retest or follow up on Mesagne et al (2015) concept. Another great idea lost to special interests. I will express extreme disappointment in all of the authors for inaccurately failing to disclosure obvious conflicts of interest – PLOS One published a correction in 08/2015 about this.

    • Benjamin Edge

      “Ms. Mangan, you are absolutely wrong to assert that Seralini was the
      leader of this team of researchers. Robin Mesagne was the leader and
      primary author, and G.E. Seralini was the 5th and last author. I’m
      pretty sure that the last author isn’t the leader, by doing the least
      amount of work.”

      Pretty sure, but not correct. The last author on a paper is traditionally the corresponding author, because they have the prestige to vouch for the paper and are usually the PI or principal investigator for the lab or group, and therefore take responsibility for the veracity of the paper.

      ” You watch though, no scientists will ever retest or follow up on Mesagne et al (2015) concept.”

      No other scientists are obligated to repeat or confirm the results of a sloppy experiment. That GM crops were being used in the production of commercial lab chow was something that Mary Mangan confirmed with some of the lab chow providers before this study was ever published.

      • Jim Tomasko

        Brilliant response, the 5th and last author is actually the primary author. I don’t see that in any of the academic surroundings that I am in. The same is done with books. On a recent biology effort, I am the 4th author because it was not my concept but I merely contributed on a minor level and do not deserve to be recognized as the primary and first author. That would be a huge disrespect to the real primary author who came up with the original concept and did the majority of the work.

  • mem_somerville
  • Klaas van Dijk

    Dear Mary, the editors of PLOS ONE have declined your request to get access to the raw research data of the Séralini et al paper. Do you agree with the decision of the editors of PLOS ONE?

    “Follow-up Comment from In-house Editors, Posted by PLoS_ONE_Group on 03 Mar 2016 at 22:52 GMT.

    After the publication of the article, a reader queried the availability of the data underlying the study. In response, the PLOS ONE staff editors followed up with the authors who indicated that the data reported in the article were acquired “one shot,” and that no technical replicates were used because the measurements were performed in accredited laboratories that previously determined technical uncertainties of the standardized methods. The reference to triplicates in the Methods section of the article refers to the sampling and not to the measurements. The data underlying the study were thus included in the supporting information file available with the article.

    To specifically address the lack of technical replicates, the PLOS ONE staff editors then consulted a member of the Editorial Board, who advised that on the basis of the information provided by the authors, it is acceptable that pooled samples were analyzed only once.”
    Copy/pasted from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/comment?id=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fannotation%2F7b8efa85-1d3c-4e24-98cd-731db298bf61

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