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More GMO-bashing, but as usual the other side gets short shrift in media

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A French study reporting that mice that ate genetically modified corn sprayed with glyphosate — or drank water with glyphosate levels similar to that in U.S. tap water — were much more likely to die, and to die younger is the latest we’re-all-being-poisoned-the-sky-is-falling scenario from those those who would have agriculture revert to mules and manure — and certainly is nothing new in France, where opposition to GMOs has been a cause célèbre from Day 1.

Also, The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a statement that the paper about the French study “is of insufficient scientific quality to be considered as valid for risk assessment.”

EFSA’s initial review found that “the design, reporting and analysis of the study, as outlined in the paper, are inadequate.” To enable the fullest understanding of the study the Authority has invited authors Séralini et alto share key additional information.

“Such shortcomings mean that EFSA is presently unable to regard the authors’ conclusions as scientifically sound,” the organization’s statement said. “The numerous issues relating to the design and methodology of the study as described in the paper mean that no conclusions can be made about the occurrence of tumors in the rats tested.

“Therefore, based on the information published by the authors, EFSA does not see a need to re-examine its previous safety evaluation of maize NK603 nor to consider these findings in the ongoing assessment of glyphosate.

EFSA assessed the paper against recognized good scientific practices, such as internationally agreed study and reporting guidelines.

Per Bergman, who led EFSA’s work, said: “Some may be surprised that EFSA’s statement focuses on the methodology of this study rather than its outcomes; however, this goes to the very heart of the matter. When conducting a study it is crucial to insure a proper framework is in place. Having clear objectives and the correct design and methodology create a solid base from which accurate data and valid conclusions can follow. Without these elements a study is unlikely to be reliable and valid.”

The director of scientific evaluation of regulated products added that the consideration of possible long-term effects of GMOs “has been, and will continue to be, a key focus of EFSA’s work to protect animals, humans and the environment.”

EFSA’s preliminary review issued today is the first step in a two-stage process, Bergman noted. A second analysis will be delivered by the end of October.

“This will take into account any additional information from the study authors, who will be given an opportunity to supply study documentation and procedures to the Authority to insure the broadest possible understanding of their work. It will also include an overview of member state assessments of the paper and an analysis from the German authorities responsible for the assessment of glyphosate.

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