Professor Giles-Eric Séralini, the researcher behind the now infamous study linking consumption of Monsanto's NK603 GM maize and its associated herbicide Roundup to long term toxicity and cancer in rats said the decision to retract the study is based on unscientific double standards.
More than a year after its initial publication, the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), Dr Wallace Hayes, retracted the research that kinked the two Monsanto products to a ‘greatly increased’ risk of tumours' and premature death.
However, amid heavy criticism from many in the scientific community, and rejections of the study by several high profile regulators including EFSA, Hayes and his colleagues on the FTC board conducted an investigation in to the study. In a letter to Séralini dated the 19th November 2013, Hayes asserted that the journal board had completed a 'thorough examination' of the data provided to them by the researcher and had expressed many concerns about the quality of the data - ultimately recommending that the article should be withdrawn.
“We are forced to conclude that the decision to withdraw our paper was based on unscientific double standards applied by the editor," said Séralini - as a 'right to reply' article is published in the same journal.
"These double standards can only be explained by pressure from the GMO and agrochemical industry to force acceptance of GMOs and Roundup."
The Séralini response article goes on to note that the decision to retract the paper was reached "a few months after the appointment of a former Monsanto employee as “editor for biotechnology”, a position created for him at FCT."
"Worse, this pro-industry bias also affects regulatory authorities, such as EFSA (European Food Safety Authority),which gives favourable opinions on risky products based on mediocre studies commissioned by the companies wishing to commercialize the products, as well as systematically dismissing the findings of independent scientists which cast doubt on their safety," said Professor Séralini.
"Economic interests have been given precedence over public health," the team wrote.
Séralini added that the decision to publish new research that used the same methods as his study, after the journal heavily criticised such methods, shows a double standard.
"We are sceptical about the rationale given to retract our paper, in light of FCT’s recent publication of another study (Zhang et al., 2014) which, like ours, investigated the potential chronic effects of consumption of a genetically modified (GM) crop," wrote Séralini and his colleagues in the FTC right to reply.
"Unlike our study, however, it concluded that the GM crop tested, a transgenic insecticide-producing rice, was as safe and nutritious as conventional rice. Yet according to your criteria, it is at least as inconclusive as our study."
The team added that the recent Zhang et al, study like the study by Séralini et al, measured the potential chronic effects of the consumption of a GMO (transgenic rice producing a modified Bt insecticide), and used the same strain and measures the same number of rats.
The only substantive difference was in the results, said the team: "Zhang and colleagues concluded that the GMO under test was safe."