A recent paper published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology presents the results of a long-term toxicity study related to a widely-used commercial herbicide (Roundup™) and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified variety of maize, concluding that both the herbicide and the maize varieties are toxic. Here we discuss the many errors and inaccuracies in the published article resulting in highly misleading conclusions, whose publication in the scientific literature and in the wider media has caused damage to the credibility of science and researchers in the field. We and many others have criticized the study, and in particular the manner in which the experiments were planned, implemented, analyzed, interpreted and communicated. The study appeared to sweep aside all known benchmarks of scientific good practice and, more importantly, to ignore the minimal standards of scientific and ethical conduct in particular concerning the humane treatment of experimental animals.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Arjó G, Capell T, Matias-Guiu X, Zhu C, Christou P, Piñol C (2012) Mice fed on a diet enriched with genetically engineered multivitamin corn show no sub-acute toxic effects and no sub-chronic toxicity. Plant Biotechnol J 10:1026–1034
Bernhardt AG (2012) Peru verbietet genmanipulierte Pflanzen. JungeWelt, 22 Nov 2012 (http://www.jungewelt.de/2012/11-22/032.php)
Butler D (2012) Hyped GM maize study faces growing scrutiny (http://www.nature.com/news/hyped-gm-maize-study-faces-growing-scrutiny-1.11566)
Chassy BM (2010) Can—omics inform a food safety assessment. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 58:S62–S70
Davis RK, Stevenson GT, Busch KA (1956) Tumor incidence in normal Sprague-Dawley female rats. Cancer Res 16:194–197
Elias PS (1980) The wholesomeness of irradiated food. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 4:172–183
Entine J (2012) Anti-GM corn study reconsidered: Séralini finally responds to torrent of criticism (http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2012/11/19/anti-gm-corn-study-reconsidered-seralini-finally-responds-to-torrent-of-criticism/)
Eriksson L, Johansson E, Kettaneh-Wold N, Trygg J, Wikström C, Wold S (2006a) Multi- and megavariate data analysis part II advanced applications and method extensions. Umetrics Academy, Umea
Eriksson L, Johansson E, Kettaneh-Wold N, Wold S (2006b) Multi and megavariate data analysis part I—principles and applications. Umetrics Academy, Umea
European Union (2010) Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the council of 22 Sept 2010
European Food Safety Authority (2012) Review of the Séralini et al. (2012) publication on a 2-year rodent feeding study with glyphosate formulations and GM maize NK603 as published online on 19 September 2012 in Food and Chemical Toxicology. EFSA J 10:2910–2919
Fanelli D (2009) How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data. PLoS One 4:e5738
Farre G, Ramessar K, Twyman RM, Capell T, Christou P (2010) The humanitarian impact of plant biotechnology: recent breakthroughs vs bottlenecks for adoption. Curr Opin Plant Biol 13:219–225
Farre G, Twyman RM, Zhu C, Capell T, Christou P (2011) Nutritionally enhanced crops and food security: scientific achievements versus political expediency. Curr Opin Biotechnol 22:245–251
He XY, Tang MZ, Luo YB, Li X, Cao SS, Yu JJ, Delaney B, Huang KL (2009) A 90-day toxicology study of transgenic lysine-rich maize grain (Y642) in Sprague-Dawley rats. Food Chem Toxicol 47:425–432
Institut Borja de Bioètica (2012) Francesc Abel i la Biotètica, un llegat per a la vida, 1st edn. Editorial Proteus
Kano H, Suzuki M, Senoh H, Yamazaki K, Aiso S, Matsumoto M, Nagano K, Fukushima S (2012) 2,4-Dichloro-1-nitrobenzene exerts carcinogenicities in both rats and mice by two years feeding. Arch Toxicol 86:1763–1772
Keenan KP, Soper KA, Smith PF, Ballam GC, Clark RL (1996) Diet, overfeeding, and moderate dietary restriction in control Sprague-Dawley rats: I. Effects on spontaneous neoplasms. Toxicol Pathol 23:269–286
Lenth RV (2001) Some practical guidelines for effective sample size determination. Am Stat 55:187–193
Liu P, He X, Chen D, Luo Y, Cao S, Song H, Ting L, Kunlun H, Xu W (2012) A 90-day subchronic feeding study of genetically modified maize expressing Cry1Ac-M protein in Sprague-Dawley rats. Food Chem Toxicol 50:3215–3221
MacKenzie SA, Lamb I, Schmidt J, Deege L, Morrisey MJ, Harper M, Layton RJ, Prochaska LM, Sanders C, Locke M, Mattsson JL, Fuentes A, Delaney B (2007) Thirteen week feeding study with transgenic maize grain containing event DAS-Ø15Ø7-1 in Sprague-Dawley rats. Food Chem Toxicol 45:551–562
Office of Science and Technology Policy (2000) Federal policy on research misconduct—preamble for research misconduct policy. US Federal Register 65, pp 76260–76264
Otabe A, Fujieda T, Masuyama T (2011) Chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity of N-[N-[3-(3-hydroxy-4-methoxyphenyl) propyl]-α-aspart. Food Chem Toxicol 49:S35–S48
Potter VR (1971) Bioethics: bridge to the future. Prentice Hall, New Jersey
Prejean JD, Peckham JC, Casey AE, Griswold DP, Weisburger EK, Weisburger JH (1973) Spontaneous tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats and Swiss mice. Cancer Res 33:2768–2773
Owino O (2012) Scientists torn over Kenya’s recent GM food ban (http://www.nature.com/news/scientists-torn-over-kenya-s-recent-gm-food-ban-1.11929)
Sakamoto Y et al (2008) A 104-week feeding study of genetically modified soybeans in F344rats. J Food Hyg Soc Jpn 49:272–282 (Article in Japanese; Abstract, Figures and Tables in English)
Séralini GE, Clair E, Mesnage R, Gress S, Defarge N, Malatesta M, Hennequin D, Spiroux de Vendômois J (2012) Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food Chem Toxicol 50:4221–4231
Snell C, Bernheim A, Berge JB, Kuntz M, Pascal G, Paris A, Ricroch AE (2012) Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: a literature review. Food Chem Toxicol 50:1134–1148
Suzuki H, Mohr U, Kimmerle G (1979) Spontaneous endocrine tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 95:187–196
Tang M, Xie T, Cheng W, Qian L, Yang S, Yang D, Cui W, Li K (2012) A 90-day safety study of genetically modified rice expressing rhIGF-1 protein in C57BL/6J rats. Transgenic Res 21:499–510
Thompson SW, Huseby RA, Fox MA, Davis CL, Hunt RD (1961) Spontaneous tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat. J Natl Cancer Inst 27:1037–1057
Twyman RM, Ramessar K, Quemada H, Capell T, Christou P (2009) Plant biotechnology: the importance of being accurate. Trends Biotechnol 27:609–612
Vargas L (2012) Port of Lorient: operation anti-GMO. France TV (http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=fr&to=en&a=http://bretagne.france3.fr/2012/11/23/lorient-des-militants-anti-ogm-detruisent-du-soja-importe-149823.html)
Weljie AM, Bondareva A, Zang P, Jirik FR (2011) 1H NMR metabolomics identification of markers of hypoxia-induced metabolic shifts in a breast cancer model system. J Biomol 49:185–193
WHO (2011) Guidelines for drinking-water quality, 4th edn. World Health Organization, Geneva
Wiklund S, Johansson E, Sjostrom L, Mellerowicz EJ, Edlund U, Shockcor JP, Gottfries J, Moritz T, Trygg J (2008) Visualization of GC/TOF-MS-based metabolomics data for identification of biochemically interesting compounds using OPLS class models. Anal Chem 80:115–122
Zhu Y, He X, Luo Y, Zou S, Xin Z, Huang K, Xu W (2012) A 90-day feeding study of glyphosate-tolerant maize with the G2-aroA gene. Food Chem Toxicol 18:280–287
1. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/121004.htm; http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumerinformation/gmfoods/gmfactsheets/responsetosralinipap5676.cfm; http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/press_information/2012/29/a_study_of_the_university_of_caen_neither_constitutes_a_reason_for_a_re_evaluation_of_genetically_modified_nk603_maize_nor_does_it_affect_the_renewal_of_the_glyphosate_approval-131739.html; http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/gmf-agm/seralini-eng.php
2. http://www.monsanto.com/products/Documents/ProductSafety/seralini-sept-2012-monsanto-comments.pdf; http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22287-study-linking-gm-crops-and-cancer-questioned.html; http://www.vib.be/en/news/Documents/20121008_EN_Analyse%20rattenstudie%20S%C3%A9ralini%20et%20al.pdf; http://www.epsoweb.org/file/1095; http://www.academie-sciences.fr/presse/communique/avis_1012.pdf; http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/biotechnologie/documenten-en-publicaties/notas/2012/10/03/advies-vwa-bij-onderzoek-naar-gezondheidsgevolgen-ggo-mais-en-Roundup.html; http://www.food.dtu.dk/upload/institutter/food/publikationer/2012/vurdering_gmostudieseralini_okt12.pdf; http://academicsreview.org/2012/09/scientists-smell-a-rat-in-fraudulent-study/
4. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/scientistsConcernedAcademicFreedom.php; http://www.non-gmoreport.com/articles/november2012/gmossafeseralinistudyscience.php; http://blogs.rue89.com/de-interet-conflit/2012/11/12/ogm-la-guerre-secrete-pour-decredibiliser-letude-seralini-228894
Research at the Universitat de Lleida is supported by MICINN, Spain (BFU2007-61413; BIO2011-23324; BIO02011-22525; PIM2010PKB-00746); European Union Framework 7 Program-SmartCell Integrated Project 222716; European Union Framework 7 European Research Council IDEAS Advanced Grant (to PC) Program-BIOFORCE; COST Action FA0804: Molecular farming: plants as a production platform for high value proteins; Centre CONSOLIDER on Agrigenomics funded by MICINN, Spain. Authors declare that their funding is exclusively from public bodies.
About this article
Cite this article
Arjó, G., Portero, M., Piñol, C. et al. Plurality of opinion, scientific discourse and pseudoscience: an in depth analysis of the Séralini et al. study claiming that Roundup™ Ready corn or the herbicide Roundup™ cause cancer in rats. Transgenic Res 22, 255–267 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11248-013-9692-9
- Safety assessment
- GM crops
- GM maize