Science, Society, Sustainability
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ISIS Report 15/01/14

Chorus of Condemnation on Seralini Retraction Worldwide

Thousands including scientists and non-scientists around the world have signed the Open Letter condemning the illicit retraction of a peer-reviewed published study that has found serious health impacts from a genetically modified maize and Roundup herbicide

Our letter has now been presented to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) with a request for action to reverse the retraction

Read what some of those who signed on are saying; add your name and forward widely to get the retraction reversed, and to show your support for science and scientists working for the public good  

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Lee Artz (signed scientist) Outstanding Scholar Award, Prof at Purdue University Calumet Social Science, USA: “John Dewey once said that our quality of life depends on “improving the methods of debate and discussion.” Arguing, contesting, refuting the study’s findings are in order. Censorship burns humanity, trashes truth, and postpones knowledge.”

Nnimmo Bassey (signed non-scientist), environmental activist and poet, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Times magazine’s Heroes of the Environment, 2009, Right Livelihood award 2010, Rafto Prize 2012, Nigeria: “One sure way to subvert progress and hinder the defence of people and planet is to block knowledge. The retraction of peer reviewed scientific papers is a corporate suppression of our freedom of expression - a fundamental human right. If this trend is allowed to continue we can be sure that only corporate interests will be served at the expense of people and planet. It is unconscionable and immoral.”

Henry Becker (signed scientist) BE MSc ScD FCIC Killam Laureate 1992 Engineering Medal 1990 Prof Emeritus Queen s university, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

“The suppression of research when findings threaten commercial interests is toxic to science in particular and truth in general. Such acts must be vigorously opposed and roundly condemned. In the words of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Adolpho Boy (signed non-scientist) Professor of Horticulture (retired) Argentina, and Grupo de Reflexion rural, Argentina: “I have used glyphosate since 1983, when we applied it only very sparingly. During the past 30 years, glyphosate use has shot up, and toxicity is everywhere; every day new cancer and malformations come to light, but are largely ignored by public officials and silenced in the hospitals, on tv and in newspapers.

“I do not need peer review of Seralini’s research to be convinced that their findings are correct, and I dare say the unpublished reality of Argentina's people is worse.

During all my professional career I had Elsevier publications as reference to my experimental work, but right now I am suspicious not only about this publisher, but of all scientific research funded by “joint ventures” with chemical companies.”

Mingyu Chen (signed scientist) Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China: “I do know scientific journals are not always equal to science. But this time they have broken some bottom line.”

Ann Clark (signed scientist) Prof of Plant Agriculture (retired), Guelph University, Canada:

“Has science fallen off the tracks?  What drives government and academia to tirelessly promote a single, proprietary technology – genetic modification – as the solution to the world’s food needs?  Whose interests are served by aggressively suppressing those who dare to ask the necessary and largely unaddressed questions of safety and efficacy of a technology that has been prematurely released into commerce? 

“Society needs to protect its own interests and defend science in the public good.  Stand up and show your support for the work of Gilles-Eric Séralini and others working in the public interest.”

Robert Dyson (signed scientist) MA DPhil retired industrial scientist engineering electronics, UK: “Even if the Séralini research had failings (there is no suggestion it was not honest research), the proper way to address them would be further independent studies. Do we smell a rat so to speak?”

Sue Edwards (signed scientist) PhD plant taxonomist, Director of Institute for Sustainable Development, Addis Ababa, Winner of Gothenburg Award on Sustainable Development 2011 (shared with Kofi Annan), Ethiopia: “We scientists must all work hard and maintain our integrity to both obtain good quality objective data and analyse them and publish the results; we must support honest scientists in the the advancement of knowledge that contributes to a healthy and sustainable future for all forms of life.”

Chris Exley (signed scientist) Prof of Bioinorganic Chemistry, Keele University, UK: “I am opposed to all forms of interference in the process of peer review leading to publication.”

Philippe Label (signed scientist), Research Director, INRA, Clermont Ferrand, France: “This retraction is totally unethical. It undermines science as an activity of open-minded people free to ask any question, to publish, and contribute to knowledge.”

B. Blake Levitt (signed non-scientist) former New York Times writer, science journalist, award-winning author, Connecticut, USA: “The integrity of academic publishing must be beyond reproach at all times. There are clear professional, ethical lines that cannot be breeched. Withdrawing a paper is serious business, especially if there is even a scintilla of conflicted interests by editors with a subtly co-opted editorial policy, conscious or otherwise.Elsevier has a singular reputation among science publications, indeed many of the papers I cite in my own work originate there. As a science journalist I need to have impeccable trust in the sources I cite or I have not upheld my own professional responsibilities toreaders or the publications wheremy work appears. I have obligations to my own editors. One serious misstep along the credibility path can tarnish the entire communication chain. Editors with biased ties to industry have no place in this particular chain. Science writing/editing is a different professional niche unto itself for good reason. Editorial positions are not interchangeable skills with commercial publications and certainly not with industry writers/editors. The misstep here was Elsevier’s, not these authors. Once trust is gone, it never fully returns.”

Bing Chen Liu (signed non-scientist), abundant work experience in solar power industry, music, arts, and business consultancy, TBEA (Tebian Electric Apparatus) of China, China: “China is already facing serious food safety problems. Uncertainty in the safety of GM food is adding to the existing deep worries of Chinese people regarding their freedom to choose the food they want. Some Chinese scientists are abusing their position and fame to cover up the potential danger of the GM food and to benefit from their GM research. We Chinese people strongly request more information, more openness regarding GM research both at home and abroad. We are therefore very angry at the retraction of a very important report by French scientists without convincing explanation to the public. I cannot represent all the Chinese people, but I do represent all my friends who are not able to write and express their anger in English. Please carry on your protest against Elsevier and Wallace Hayes Editor in Chief of Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT). We are behind all of you and regarding your action is very scientific, very responsible, and in the interest of the global society and food safety.”

Sally Fallon Morrell (signed non-scientist) President of Washington DC based Weston A. Price Foundation, USA: “Let’s keep the spirit of scientific inquiry alive by expressing our outrage at any attempt to smother studies that show the dangers of GMOs.”

Gerald Pollack (signed scientist), Editor in Chief Water Journal, Prof Bioengineering University of Washington Prigogine Medalist 2011, Seattle Washington USA: “If science is to advance, it must remain free, totally free, of any tampering by self-interested parties. Once that begins happening, we can kiss the future of science goodbye.”

Michel Prévot (signed scientist), Emeritus Director of Research at CNRS and University of Monpelier, Fernand Holweck Prize of the French Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, France: “I consider the unilateral retraction of Seralini et al’s article in Food and Chemical Toxicology since it was accepted by the Editorial Board and published in 2012 scientifically unfounded. Consequently, I do support the boycott of Elsevier journals.”

Joan Russow (signed non-scientist) PhD Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Compliance Research Project, Victoria, Canada: “The institutional Collusion, in relation to genetically engineered food and crops, among corporations, governments, universities and regulatory agencies has been endemic; this collusion has sadly spread to certain scientific publications. For the sake of food security for present and future generations: (i) this collusion must end; (ii) the precautionary principle must be invoked, (iii) genetically engineered food and crops must be banned; (iv) the charters of Monsanto et al must be revoked; and (v) charges of gross/criminal negligence against these corporations, levied.”

Craig Sams (signed non-scientist), UK-based celebrity baker, grocer, chocolatier, columnist and author: “The scientific method hinges on repeatability, not on repression. Seralini’s research produced disturbing results; the only ethically appropriate response is to repeat his method to either confirm or refute his conclusions. Human health is at stake here, which must be considered more important than herbicide sales revenue. It is shocking that a reputable publisher is prepared to suppress information that, to all appearances, should be triggering more extensive research into the risks of consuming genetically modified food.

 “George Orwell wrote: “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” If science today has become an accomplice to deceit, then conscientious scientists need to seek even more determinedly for the truth.”

Oliver Tickell (signed non-scientist), Editor of The Ecologist, UK: “Science journals have a key role to play at the heart of the scientific process by acting as the gatekeepers for the publication of scientific research. If they abuse this power for any reason, but especially for commercial reasons, this constitutes a crime against science by undermining the integrity of the scientific process itself.”

Clas Tegenfeldt (signed scientist) MSc EE PhD studies medical image processing and visualization, Sweden: “The peer review process is important but also “behind the scenes”. It is therefore very crucial that the peer review process never is controlled by commercial interests or companies. In this case there are two commercial forces, Elsevier and Monsanto, each fighting for its own economic interests. What is needed is an “open source” peer reviewed publication mechanism, where the reports published are free for all. Why should I or my organization pay to get a copy of research studies? In the old days the publishers were a middle man between researchers and other researchers (mostly through libraries). Today the researcher has the research paper in electronic form and it could be published online with very little costs. Such an “open source” publication online service is easy to create but needs widespread support to gain acceptance. What is not acceptable, as shown in this case, is that lobbyism and money can and will censor research that may damage big business. Elsevier and other publishers are dinosaurs fighting to keep control. They are no longer necessary.”

Howard Vlieger (signed non-scientist) third generation family farmer, student of the soil, and crop nutritional adviser to help family farmers transition to organic production, and works with scientists and researchers around the world, Iowa, USA: “Since the introduction of GM grain into the feed supply in the US, we have witnessed many health problems in the livestock. Because it happened so quickly, and the health problems were on such a broad scale, most people involved in livestock production did not associate them with GM feed. The use of antibiotics in livestock production prior to the introduction of GM feed was minimal. After the introduction of GM feed, antibiotics were almost constantly required for the majority of the animals on GM feed. At the same time, more GM crops meant more pesticides required to raise the crops. The biggest benefit of GM crops has been for the companies selling the antibiotics and pesticides. Now we are seeing a similar trend in the human health in the US. More illness and more drugs prescribed. Isn’t it interesting that many of the same companies make the GM seeds, the chemicals for crop production and the drugs for animals and people?”

There are 2 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
Bonnie Jameson Comment left 15th January 2014 15:03:48
Just because Seralini is not bought and paid for like the multitude of "scientists" who publish studies about genetic modification being safe and his findings are not consistent with theirs, does not mean he is wrong. I await the day when the public is not too lazy and complacent and uneducated to destroy the bio-tech industries and we can see their corruption crumble down around them.
Deborah Liguori Comment left 15th January 2014 16:04:13
This retraction is not only criminal but is a direct assault on our soils, waters, food supply and our health as well as the health of our ecosystems. Biotechnology of our crops has turned into an evil and dangerous enemy. They will stop at nothing to protect their profits and power claims and this is such a huge problem that everyone worldwide who cares about our childrens's future and our food supply as well as our environment needs to stand up and be counted. Our rights are being taken away by the corruption of our officials who are entangled with the profits and power of these biotech companies. Heaven help us all if apathy helps their agenda! Our future generations are in drastic trouble when information is silenced and we have no control over our destiny. Shame on us if we allow this to happen!

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