Studies claiming serious GMO crop risks published mostly in low quality journals and riddled with conflicts of interest, bad science

Screen Shot at AM

[Editor’s note: Miguel Sanchez is Executive Director of ChileBio. Wayne Parrott is a professor of Crop Science at the University of Georgia.]

What follows is an assessment of original research papers addressing food/feed safety aspects of GM crops, which are used frequently as evidence of adverse effects and health risks of GM crops. Potential conflicts of interest (COI), the scientific quality of the studies, and the logic and credibility of arguments and conclusions were appraised.

These 35 studies represent fewer than 5% of all published studies assessing GM food/feed safety.

The geographical origin of the 35 studies is striking. There are just a few labs from a few places that are responsible for articles claiming adverse effects. While 57% (20) were conducted in Europe, 43% (15) were carried out in Italy. Egyptian scientists contributed 17% (6) of the studies here assessed. Only one paper reviewed here, though written in Australia, is based on research conducted in the USA.

The most frequent author on these publications, having co-authored 11 out of 35 studies (31%) is the Malatesta group at the University of Urbino and University of Verona, Italy. Nine of their articles are on soybean 40-3-2, and represent 60% of all studies suggesting adverse effects from this event. Their studies on maize events BT176 and NK603 were coauthored with the M. Trabalza-Marinucci (Università degli Studi di Perugia, Italy) and G-E. Séralini (University of Caen, France) teams, respectively.

Related article:  Evaluating competing claims about genetically modified crops

[Editor’s note: Read the GLP’s profile on Gilles-Éric Séralini.]

[F]ewer than half — 14 out of 35 (40%) — show no financial or professional COIs.

The three studies from Seralini’s group were supported by the Committee of Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), which is financed by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind (FPH). This foundation has publicly supported anti-GMO initiatives like Inf’OGM, Foundation Sciences Citoyennes; the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), Combat Monsanto, and Stop OGM, among others.

Because of the relevance of food safety, any well-conducted study under rigorous standards of scientific quality and showing adverse effects of any GM food/crop could and would be published in the most prominent journals. However, most studies often used in the public debate against GM food/crops have been published in journals with lower visibility; eight were even published in journals without a listed impact factor.

In general terms, all papers analyzed here violate at least one of the basic standards for assessment of GM food/feed safety.

Screen Shot at PM
Geographical distribution of origin of papers cited frequently as evidence of adverse effects of GE or specific GM crops on health.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Characterization of scientific studies usually cited as evidence of adverse effects of GM food/feed

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend