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Journal retracts study of genetically modified maize

| Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology is retracting a highly controversial French study it published last year linking genetically modified maize to cancerous tumors in rats.

In a statement released from its Cambridge, Mass., offices on Thursday, publisher Elsevier said that upon closer review of the paper, editors determined that the experimental sample was too small to allow for clear conclusions.

The type of rat involved in the experiment is known for a high incidence of tumors, it said.

“Unequivocally, the editor-in-chief found no evidence or fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data,” the statement read. “However, there is legitimate cause for concern regarding both the number of animals in each study group and the particular strain selected.”

The paper, titled “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” was published on Sept. 19, 2012.

It was quickly embraced by opponents of genetically altered foods and stoked debate over California's failed Proposition 37, which sought to require labeling for genetically modified foods.

The research was led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, a professor at the University of Caen and founder of the nonprofit Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering.

On Friday, study authors said they were standing by their findings. They called the publisher's criticisms “unacceptable” and accused the journal of exercising double standards.

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