Journal Retracts Study After Pressure From Biotech

GMOCornMammaryTumorsRemember this study? It was the first published, peer-reviewed, long-term (2-year) animal study of GM corn:

Long Term Toxicity Of A Roundup Herbicide And A Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize, Food and Chemical Toxicology (FTC), 19 September 2012.

From Reuters:

“Rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to dousings of Roundup – or given water containing Roundup at levels permitted in the United States died earlier than those on a standard diet.

The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumours, as well as severe liver and kidney damage.

The researchers said 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.”

The publisher was hounded by Monsanto and other biotechnology supporters to retract it. Pro-GM lobbyists criticized both the study and the FCT journal for publishing it. FCT stood by the study.

Several months later, however, in early 2013, the FCT created a new editorial position — Associate Editor for Biotechnology — and appointed a former Monsanto employee (1997-2004), Richard E. Goodman to the post. (Both the Roundup and the GM corn used in the study are Monsanto products.) Goodman was an outsider to FCT but was fast-tracked to this new post, “bypassing the normal scientific editorial culture of gradual promotion from within.”

On November 28, 2013, the FCT announced it was retracting the study:
RETRACTED: Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize

“Unequivocally, the Editor-in-Chief found no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data. … Ultimately, the results presented (while not incorrect) are inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology.”

GMWatch says the retraction “violates the guidelines for retractions in scientific publishing set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and is “illicit, unscientific, and unethical.”

The story here for me is the unusual behavior of a peer-reviewed journal, and its apparent subservience to corporate money:

“It seems unlikely that scientific journals will address unaided the defects in scientific publishing at FCT and elsewhere. To do so would require confronting the fundamental problem that academic science now largely makes its money from exploiting conflicts of interest. This has become the underlying business model of science. Universities offer ‘independent’ advice to governments while taking corporate money for ‘research’. Corporations offer that money to universities, not for the knowledge it generates, but primarily for the influence it buys.”
The Goodman Affair: Monsanto Targets the Heart of Science

3 thoughts on “Journal Retracts Study After Pressure From Biotech

  1. Bix Post author

    I happen to agree … more long-term studies are needed.

    I think the incident here with FCT and their retraction of a study that showed rats fed GM corn were harmed … points to a problem with publication bias in this field. What gets published (and stays published) may be biotech-friendly. What doesn’t get published (indeed, what never gets studied since biotech won’t let scientists legally conduct the research) may be biotech-unfriendly.


  2. Pingback: Eating Saturated Fat Contributes To Heart Disease: No Evidence? | Fanatic Cook

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