An example of an inconclusive study that has not been retracted from FCT is the Monsanto study on the same GM maize variety that Séralini tested.

Scientific studies should be evaluated according to standards that are consistently and transparently applied to all studies, regardless of whether their findings are reassuring, surprising, or unpopular. Yet it appears that the Séralini study has been singled out for retraction under a criterion of “inconclusiveness” that has not been applied to other papers.

An example of an inconclusive study that has not been retracted from FCT is the Monsanto study on the same GM maize variety that Séralini tested (Hammond et al, 2004).[1] This study used the same strain of rat and analyzed blood and urine samples from the same number of animals as Séralini used in total.

Crucially, however, the Monsanto study was only 90 days in duration. Thus it was terminated a month before the more obvious pathologies began to appear in the Séralini study. Nevertheless, the data in the Monsanto study show statistically significant differences in multiple organ functions between the GM and non-GM feeding groups, which the Monsanto authors dismissed as not “biologically meaningful”, without proper scientific justification.

As a result, and of great importance from a public health perspective, this GM maize was passed by regulators as safe to consume on a life-long basis despite that fact that the Monsanto study was only 90 days in duration and contained scientifically questionable claims of statistically significant findings being termed as not “biologically meaningful”.

In fact, the Monsanto data as presented are inconclusive.

This inconclusiveness can only be resolved by extending the study duration to see if the disturbances in organ (in particular, liver and kidney) function either fade or escalate into serious harm. The study by Séralini did exactly that, using essentially the same experimental design to address this vital outstanding question.

Applying the same criteria to the Monsanto study as were used to evaluate and retract the Séralini study, the Monsanto paper should also be retracted, as it too was “inconclusive” in its findings. If ten rats per sex per group are too few to demonstrate that there is a problem with GM NK603 maize and Roundup in the Séralini study, then this number of rats is certainly too small to justify the Monsanto authors’ conclusion that the maize is “as safe and nutritious” as the non-GM comparators.

This example makes clear that if the criterion of “inconclusiveness” of some of a study’s findings were consistently applied to decide if a paper should be retracted, this would lead to an absurd situation in which a large number of papers would have to be retracted or would be viewed as unpublishable in the first instance. Thus the scientific community would be deprived of valuable information.

Accordingly, neither the Monsanto study nor the Séralini study should be retracted. Both offer information that can be of use to future researchers. The scientific debate must occur through the publication of new experimental data in the scientific literature and must not be impeded by the removal of existing data from the record. 


[1] Hammond B et al (2004). Results of a 13 week safety assurance study with rats fed grain from glyphosate tolerant corn. Food Chem Toxicol 42(6): 1003-1014.

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