IS NOW COMPLETELY BONKERS?
An organization which has lost touch with reality
Dr Brian John
The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) statement entitled "Final review of the Séralini et al. (2012a) publication on a 2-year rodent feeding study with glyphosate formulations and GM maize NK603 as published online on 19 September 2012 in Food and Chemical Toxicology" was published on November 28th 2012, together with an "Annex" containing the opinions of selected member states.
The accompanying press release was widely distributed by the EFSA Media Relations Office under the heading "Séralini et al. study conclusions not supported by data, says EU risk assessment community." The so-called "EU risk assessment community" was nothing of the sort -- it was a self-appointed kangaroo court which had no mandate to advertise itself in that way, and no mandate to speak on behalf of the EU or the member states. Some of those involved (for example Andrew Chesson, Per Bergman and Claudia Paoletti) had obvious conflicts of interest, and EFSA has refused to disclose the declarations of interest of other staff members involved in this review.
The document published by EFSA on 28th November is one of the most unbalanced, despicable, arrogant and complacent pieces of pseudo-science that one is ever likely to see. Vitriol drips from every page. It is clear that the drafting team conspired from the outset to find fault with the Seralini study from every possible standpoint and to defend the EFSA position on NK603 and Roundup herbicide -- which is that they are essentially harmless.
The following points emerge from an initial reading of the EFSA document:
*The drafting team specifically refused to revisit the old EFSA safety evaluation of NK605 or any of the stacked events linked to it:
*it ignored the points made by Seralini et al ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.11.007) in their “answers to critics” on 9th November
*it made no allowance whatsoever for the fact that there are at least five other publications pending from the Seralini team, which will no doubt allay many matters of concern
*it attacked the study on the spurious and petty basis that full data sets were not published in a journal article (they never are)
*its concentration on "statistical shortcomings" was disingenuous in the extreme, since Seralini has always admitted to a small sample size and has asked for further studies using larger sample groups
*it failed to show any respect for the fact that this was the first ever long-term feeding study of this type
*it attacked the study’s "failings" as a carcinogenicity study while failing to recognize that it was in fact a general toxicity study -- as Seralini has repeatedly pointed out
*it failed to consider that the study was examining the effects of Roundup, not glyphosate
*it ignored the almost intolerable degree of secrecy which had to surround the execution, writing up and publication of the study, for fear that it would be sabotaged
*the text consistently demonstrated hypocrisy of the first order, in demanding levels of scientific precision and data provision which EFSA conspicuously failed to ask for in the original Monsanto dossier on NK603
*most concerning of all in the text is the apparent absence of any concern for public health, or any awareness of the Precautionary Principle
*the writers ignored the calls made by some member states for a reassessment of GMO consent guidelines and procedures, and for follow-up or repeat studies building on the Seralini work
In a careful and thoughtful analysis, Corporate Europe Observatory wrote: "EFSA has chosen to fan the flames of public controversy by publishing a radically one-sided assessment putting the entire blame on Séralini, applying a level of scientific standards never reached by the Monsanto study on NK603 it accepted for its EU authorisation and ignoring some national agencies' calls to more research and a review of GMOs and pesticides' risk assessment guidelines."
As many observers have noted, there is a complete breakdown of trust between EFSA and the Seralini team, to the extent that accusations and counter-accusations are flying around in all directions.That can't be good for anybody in the research community, let alone for the members of the public who will (if EFSA gets its way) have to eat GM food whether they want it or not.
As we have pointed out in the past, EFSA hostility towards the Seralini team was quite inevitable. There was no way that EFSA could have contemplated anything other than shooting the messenger, since to admit to any merit in the Seralini study would have been to admit to serious shortcomings in the initial EFSA assessment of NK603 and to major failings in the EU assessment of Roundup herbicide as well. EFSA therefore decided to be judge, jury and executioner, and to align itself with the GM industry spokesmen in seeking to bury the Seralini study and to discredit its authors. So they have placed their trust in the questionable science of a corporate giant (Monsanto) and in a dossier designed to obtain a GMO consent leading to commercial gain -- and have effectively sought to destroy a piece of peer-reviewed research from an academic team with nothing commercial to gain from either the acceptance or the rejection of GM crops and foods. In the process, they have shown a total lack of respect for fellow scientists, seeking to question their integrity and their scientific competence. That is not how science should be conducted.
But then, this is not science. This is all about political expediency. And those involved, at least at the EFSA end, do not deserve to be called scientists. They are technocrats and bureaucrats with their own careers to protect, come hell or high water. And, as far as they are concerned, to hell with the health of the people of Europe.
EFSA has lost touch with reality
IS NOW COMPLETELY BONKERS?