You may or may not have already heard about the recent study published in the “Food and Chemical Toxicology” journal, linking genetically modified (GM) maize with aggressive tumour formation and premature death.
Yes, the stuff of nightmares if you are a proponent of GM foods as a potential solution to world hunger. Or if you’re just worried about what goes into your food (which you should anyway). On the other hand, great stuff if you are the Daily Mail! However, this study is severely flawed.
I’ve been following the aftermath of this publication with interest, as I find this subject fascinating -I frequently find myself awestruck by the advances in genetic engineering, and I believe that such technology should certainly be on our arsenal against diminishing food supply -honest question: what else is on that arsenal?
First, a brief overview of the “study”:
This two-year animal research included 200 rats (100 of each sex) divided across 10 groups. Three groups each containing male and female rats were fed different concentrations of a GM maize crop. Another three groups were fed GM maize that had been treated with the herbicide “Roundup”. These six groups were then compared with one control group of rats fed untreated, non-GM maize
Then, a list of some typical bad science stuff in this “study”:
But the thing that I found most arrogant and ludicrous, was this:
Journalists often receive embargoed journal articles, and standard practice is to solicit independent assessments before the paper is published. The agreement for this paper, however, did not allow any disclosure and threatened a severe penalty for non-compliance: “A refund of the cost of the study of several million euros would be considered damages if the premature disclosure questioned the release of the study“
In other words: here’s my paper; you cannot get any independent experts’ opinion before reporting; also, if you write anything questioning my paper you may end up owing me several million euros
This is not proper science reporting, and the whole story is covered in mysticism, questionable methodological quality, and strong idealogical biases. On the whole, this is bad science.