(Posted Thu. Sep 20th, 2012)

Sept. 20: Yesterday, a group of primarily French researchers published a paper questioning the safety of Roundup Ready corn and glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup. The National Corn Growers Association, after reviewing this study, has concluded that the research is questionable, at best, and does not offer credible evidence that biotechnology in agriculture negatively impacts animal health.


“There has been a strong backlash against the validity of this study in the scientific community with some even questioning how it was ever published,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. “We join these respected academics in questioning the methods used and conclusions drawn. With so many issues already apparent and in the absence of other reputable data that would support the study’s conclusions, we hope that the public will see that this is an agenda-driven attack on agriculture and not a scientifically-valid study.”


Published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, “The Long-Term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modi???ed Maize claims that, in a two-year feeding study, rats fed Roundup-ready corn and .1 parts per billion glyphosate had unusual tumor development and early death.  The group of researchers conducting the study, known to have a bias against biotechnology, executed a deeply-flawed study. Notably, many vocal critics of biotechnology have even spoken out against this research and its findings.  


NCGA and the scientific community question the study for a variety of reasons. First, the breed of rodent used is prone to developing tumors at roughly two years of age. Thus, in selecting this breed for a two-year trial, the scientists selected rodents already likely to develop tumors by the trial’s completion, regardless of diet.


Additionally, the trial design included other intrinsic flaws, allowing unfettered access to a food supply unreflective of the make-up or quantity of a diet that would otherwise support rodent health. Reliant upon unfounded, biased claims, the structure nearly-ensured rodents in the test groups would experience the side effects of age and improper care.


"Most toxicology studies are terminated at normal lifespan, about two years,” said Tom Sanders, the head of the Nutritional Sciences Research Division of King’s College London. “Immortality is not an alternative. No food intake data is provided or growth data. This strain of rat is very prone to mammary tumours particularly when food intake is not restricted.”


NCGA also finds issue, again like many others in the scientific community, with the conclusions drawn by the researchers from this study as they are not statistically supported. The statistical relevance of the study itself is questionable as the researchers used very small, unequal sample sizes for the treated and control groups. Unbiased party attempts to review the raw data and draw accurate statistical conclusions have been fruitless as the researchers have declined to make the control group data available.


"In my opinion, the methods, stats and reporting of results are all well below the standard I would expect in a rigorous study – to be honest I am surprised it was accepted for publication,” said Cambridge University Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk David Spiegelhalter.


Proponents of the California ballot initiative that would require a variety of increased food labeling, Proposition 37, released a statement using the flawed study as evidence of the ill-effects of biotechnology, claiming that the findings illustrate the need to pass this legislation. With this study’s use as a justification for passing legislation which would mandate confusing, even illogical food labels, and which would serve as a fertile breeding ground for nuisance lawsuits against food manufactures, it is imperative that public awareness of the study’s discretization in the scientific community grows rapidly.


The group opposing California Proposition 37, to which NCGA belongs, released a statement yesterday questioning the study and stressing the potential implications of passing this legislation. To read this statement in its entirety, click here.


For additional reaction to the study from scientific experts, click here.