Research that concluded that transgenic maize is a cancer agent has errors, according to EFSA

2012/10/05 Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

On September 19, an article published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that a herbicide and transgenic maize resistant to this herbicide were carcinogenic agents in rats. However, the food security organization in the European Union (EFSA) has detected significant methodological errors in this study, which has led to the conclusion that the results are negligible.
EFSA concludes that research linking transgenic maize to cancer is unreliable. - Ed. Elhuyar Foundation.

This study, conducted by researchers from the University of Caen and Verona, was published under the title "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolresp genetically modified maize". This was the aim of the research: to check whether rats fed genetically modified and herbicide maize had health problems derived from food. To do this, the rats were divided into ten groups, which were given different percentages of transgenic maize and herbicide corn for consumption.

The results were clear: the research lasted two years, in which all rats that received this diet died 2-3 times before those of the control group. They developed breast and pituitary cancer with strong alterations in the hormonal system. In rat males, the liver was the most affected organ and had 4 times more tumors than control.

The research raised some concern that this transgenic maize and the herbicide that accompanies it are recognized in Europe. They had to pass all the safety tests. The investigation questioned the rigor of security tests.

EFSA Conclusions

Faced with this situation, EFSA promised to study the investigation and has now made its result public. The study, led by the Directorate of Scientific Evaluation of Regulated Products (REPRO), was attended by experts in biostatistics, experimental design, mammalian toxicology, biotechnology, biochemistry, pesticide safety and the safety of genetically modified organisms. In addition, two other experts have reviewed the study.

EFSA has determined that it has only analyzed the research published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, since it has not been able to see all the documentation of the study. Thus, coinciding with the publication of the results of the study, a letter was sent to the head of the research inviting researcher Gilles-Eric Séralini to provide more data to EFSA if desired.

In any case, the EFSA has indicated that the published research contains a series of methodological errors that make the results not taken into account. Among these defects is the type of rat chosen: According to EFSA, these rats have a life expectancy of two years and tend to develop cancer during this period, something that researchers have not taken into account, according to EFSA.

In addition, the rats were divided into ten groups, with a single control group for all of them. On the other hand, in each group there were 10 rats, and according to the accepted international guidelines for this type of research, the minimum number of rats per group should be 50.

The EFSA also denounces the lack of data on feeding rats and the lack of more information about their health problems. They have also been shown to be statistically weak.

Therefore, EFSA has announced that the research is not reliable and that it is not necessary to review the safety of this transgenic maize.

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