Glyphosate toxicity study in ‘pay for play journal’ based on flawed experimental design

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A recently published study by a group of French scientists reported that commonly used pesticides like Roundup were up to 1,000 times more toxic than the isolated active ingredient that was tested and evaluated for safety. The team, led by Gilles-Eric Séralini, notorious for a retracted publication that linked GMOs to cancer, claimed that the flawed safety evaluations for pesticides put public health at risk. Their findings were published in BioMed Research International, a pay-for-play journal that does no serious peer review, in February.

In a dramatic turn of events, one of the journal’s editors, Ralf Reski, a plant scientist at the University of Freiburg in Germany, resigned and asked for his name to be removed from the journal’s website after reading Séralini’s article.

“I do not want to be connected to a journal that provides [Séralini] a forum for such kind of agitation,” he wrote in his resignation e-mail to the publisher, Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

Val Giddings, a geneticist and senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, summed up the criticisms of Séralini’s study. He explained that the researchers applied pesticides in high concentrations directly to human cell lines, which was considered poor experimental design that did not represent real-world uses of the pesticides:

The experimental conditions utterly fail to represent the exposure pathway under real-world uses of the compounds studied, and ignore that cells in humans are organized into organs and tissues, and protected from direct exposure by skin.

Giddings emphasized that such application of pesticides directly to human cells exposed the cells to surfactants present in the pesticides. Surfactants are well-known and widely-used chemicals in biological research because they can dissolve lipids, one of the major constituents of cell membranes. Séralini’s claims of toxicity were not surprising; “beginning biology students would expect to see the kind of negative effects on cells in culture exposed to lipid dissolving agents as reported,” Giddings wrote.

Martin van den Berg, a toxicologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, commented that the “endpoints observed are so general that we could probably find the same kind of toxicity with lemon juice or grapefruit extract… It’s not new or shocking. It is what I would have expected at the level he is giving this to the cells.”

Read the full, original article: Claims about pesticide toxicity are based on discredited methods

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  • crush davis

    Keep up the good work, exposing these frauds who peddle fear with junk science and prevarication. They are a pox on society.

  • David Smith

    I agree that the Séralini study is flawed. But beware of trying to taint the journal – most journals require page charges so the ‘pay for play journal’ reference is unscientific and biased.

    In fact Jon Entine also likes using this phrase – one he recently used on Food and Chemical Toxicology which he trashed as a “… a third tier ‘pay for play’ journal–junk medicine” until he was made aware that most of the important studies demonstrating GM crop safety were published in FCT.

  • Dave Pennington

    The fact that safety studies using the actual herbicide show far higher toxic effects SHOULD cause GMO scientists to ask questions, not dismiss it with technical quibbles. And even if it IS “flawed” the study raises a very important point I had not fully considered…

    I am not a toxicologist but it seems perfectly reasonable to require safety studies of the TRUE formulation that the company proposes to sell. After all, maybe one of the “inert” ingredients is toxic, either alone or combined with glyphosate. Ignoring the potential for chemical synergy is highly questionable even to the layman.

    This study indicates that Roundup is probably far more toxic than glyphosate. It is not the only one. Testing glyphosate alone, therefore, is possibly a very clever fraud. But if EITHER formulation is as safe as the GMO proponents claim, it should be VERY EASY to provide a large pile of long term test data proving their assertions. So far they haven’t done this, not even close. For Pete’s sake, if there are hundreds and hundreds of safety studies showing NO health effects in animals from long term GMO consumption, where are they? There sure aren’t very many (if any) in the GENERA database of over 400 studies. Ask Karl Haro von Mogel, I did:

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/geneticliteracyproject/independent_research_what_independent_research/#comment-2212798703

    It is becoming easier to see why long term safety studies have been touted often but never shown: “Trade secret” documents (legally extracted from Monsanto and currently being studied by Dr Anthony Samsel) apparently indicate Monsanto knew decades ago that glyphosate was a powerful carcinogen. According to Dr Samsel, Monsanto performed long term safety testing and found numerous health effects, then used various tricks to hide the problems, such as the dubious practice of “historical” control substitution. Once the data is cleared of these tricks, the negative health effects become obvious.

    If this is true, this wasn’t just junk science, it was murder, as when Monsanto hid their data on PCBs. But what the heck, even 100 million in fines didn’t hurt their profits much, and the CEOs never went to jail. Dead and sickened people in Anniston and elsewhere… Tough shit on them.

    The fact that Monsanto (and others) have been allowed to keep their test data hidden from scrutiny for so long indicates that the FDA is in need of a major overhaul. The fact that Michael Taylor, a Monsanto lobbyist, is in the FDA as a “food safety czar”, indicates that there is a lot of work to be done politically. I’m sure Hillary Clinton will get right on that, since her super PAC is run by a Monsanto lobbyist.

    I really cannot imagine how the apologists for this industry sleep at night, or how they can look at their kids, knowing that they are helping protect a company which is poisoning them. Someday those kids are going to look them in the eye, knowing what they did.