Reed Elsevier's Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT)journal, which
published the study by the French researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini in
September 2012, said the retraction was because the study's small
sample size meant no definitive conclusions could be reached.
"This retraction comes after a thorough and time-consuming analysis
of the published article and the data it reports, along with an
investigation into the peer-review behind the article," the journal
said in a statement.
"Ultimately, the results presented — while not incorrect — are
inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of
publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology."
At the time of its original publication, hundreds of scientists
across the world questioned Seralini's research, which said rats fed
Monsanto's GM corn had suffered tumors and multiple organ failure.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a statement in
November 2012 saying the study by Seralini, who was based at
France's University of Caen, had serious defects in design and
methodology and did not meet acceptable scientific standards.
Within weeks of its appearance in the peer-reviewed journal, more
than 700 scientists had signed an online petition calling on
Seralini to release all the data from his research.
In its retraction statement, the FCT said that, in light of these
concerns, it too had asked to view the raw data.
Seralini "agreed and supplied all material that was requested by the
editor-in-chief", it said.
The journal said that, while it had received many letters expressing
concerns about the validity of the findings, the proper use of
animals and even allegations of fraud, its own investigation found
"no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data".
[to top of second column]
"However, there is a legitimate cause for concern regarding both the
number of animals in each study group and the particular strain
selected," it said.
Seralini, who works in Caen with a group called CRIIGEN, the
Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic
Engineering, said the journal's criticisms of his work were
"Were FCT to persist in its decision to retract our study, CRIIGEN
would attack with lawyers, including in the United States, to
require financial compensation for the huge damage to our group," he
said in a statement.
Other scientists, however, welcomed the journal's decision, although
some said it had come too late.
"The major flaws in this paper make its retraction the right thing
to do," said Cathie Martin, a professor at John Innes Centre. "The
strain of rats used is highly susceptible to tumors after 18 months
with or without GMO (genetically modified organisms) in their
David Spiegelhalter, a professor of the Public Understanding of Risk
at the University of Cambridge, said it was "clear from even a
superficial reading that this paper was not fit for publication". In
this instance, he said, the peer review process had not worked
"But at least this has now been remedied and the journal has
recognized that no conclusions can be drawn from this study, so I
suppose it is better late than never," he said.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Anthony