View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

What can feeding GM foods to animals tell us about toxicity?

Leave a comment

Next Wednesday (15th January) we are all invited to take part in an online Q&A on ‘How useful are animal feeding studies in plant research?’

Since Seralini’s toxicology paper was retracted, there have been lots of calls for more studies where GM food is fed to animals to assess its safety for humans. The Q&A is a chance for people to ask any questions about whether feeding studies are a sensible precaution to determine whether our food is safe, or a misleading waste of money. 

The panel look really interesting, including Professor Joachim Schiemann, director of the Institute for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology at the Julius Kuehn Institute in Germany. That’s an institute I’d really like to visit to discuss how we could make our regulations less ineffective.

So, send in your questions. My first ones will be:

Which food types/additives legally require toxicology studies in the UK? If there is an effective system for these, can we just apply it for genetically modified foods?

One letter to the editor following Seralini’s paper said that similar studies published in the journal had used the same strain of rats. Is this the case, and if so should we be highlighting more studies which are unreliable?

GM feed is standard for livestock even in the UK. Can we get any toxicology information from this?

Seralini’s paper

For anyone looking for some background, I blogged about Seralini’s toxicology studies, but here are my latest thoughts.

Unsurprisingly, the debate about whether Seralini’s paper should have been retracted rumbles on, along with claims that Monsanto is behind the retraction. No doubt anti-GM organisations will continue to reference it for years to come, so I wonder whether the retraction has changed anything, or whether it is has just caused campaign groups to criticise the journal?

What does make sense is that now if you click on the link to the paper you get a list of all the letters to the editor which followed it. This seems like a positive step towards post-publication peer review (where the process of experts reviewing papers doesn’t end with publication). I wonder whether doing this without the retraction would have been more constructive?

I noticed this week on Twitter that there are calls for journals to sign up to ARRIVE guidelines for the use of animals in the research they publish. Food and Chemical Toxicology has not done so.

Author: Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s