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EMF Studies

25 July 2016

Emails Reveal Role of Monsanto in Séralini Study Retraction

Emails reveal role of Monsanto in Séralini study retraction
gmwatch.org, 20 July 2016

Editor at the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology invited Monsanto scientists to review a study that found toxic effects from Monsanto products, reports French newspaper Le Monde

In September 2012 the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published the research of a team led by the French biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, which found liver and kidney toxicity and hormonal disturbances in rats fed Monsanto’s GM maize NK603 and very small doses of the Roundup herbicide it is grown with, over a long-term period. An additional observation was a trend of increased tumours in most treatment groups.

In November 2013 the study was retracted by the journal’s editor, A. Wallace Hayes, after the appointment of a former Monsanto scientist, Richard E. Goodman, to the editorial board and a non-transparent review process by nameless people that took several months.

Did Monsanto pressure the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) to retract the study? French journalist Stéphane Foucart addresses this question in an article for Le Monde.

The article shows the total subordination of Goodman to Monsanto. It also reveals how Hayes played a double role in the retraction of the study, acting behind the scenes to encourage Monsanto scientists to join the reviewing panel that would feed their views into the decision to retract.
Influence of chemical companies on academics

Foucart examined emails disclosed as a result of a freedom of information request submitted by the food transparency organisation US Right to Know (USRTK). Foucart writes that the emails “reveal the influence of the chemical companies on some academics”.

Foucart points out that scientific papers are normally retracted only due to fraud, plagiarism, or honest error. Séralini’s study did not fall into any of these categories and was the first to be retracted on grounds of "inconclusiveness”. Supporters of Séralini challenged a newcomer to the editorial board of FCT, in charge of biotechnology. Richard E. Goodman is a Professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln (USA) and specialist food allergens. He is also a former employee of Monsanto, which he left in 2004.

FCT biotechnology editor had “remarkable closeness” to Monsanto

Foucart writes that emails obtained by USRTK show “a remarkable closeness” between Goodman and his old employer. In reality, however, as Foucart points out, the relationship between Goodman and Monsanto is not so old. Goodman himself wrote in a message of 2012 that "50% of [his] salary” actually comes from a project funded by Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta, and consists of establishing a database of food allergens.

This fact, Foucart notes, creates “links, or even a subordinate relationship” between Goodman and Monsanto. Foucart goes on to explain how that subordinate relationship manifested in an incident that happened in May 2012, before the publication of the Séralini paper in September of that year:

“After the publication of a newspaper article in which he is quoted, Goodman, not yet an editor at FCT, is sharply brought to order by a Monsanto employee. The latter tells the professor that his opinion seems to have been interpreted by the journalist as ‘suggesting that we do not know enough about biotechnologies to say that they are safe’. In return, Goodman wrote a collective message to all his correspondents in the six biotechnology companies that fund his work. ‘I apologize to you and your companies,’ he wrote, adding that he was misunderstood by the journalist.”

Industry financing of science imposes control over researcher

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