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Efsa verdict: GM maize study scientifically unsound

The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) has confirmed its assessment that a study, which raised concerns about the safety of a GM maize and an herbicide, had “serious defects in design and methodology”.

The study in question was published in September 2012 by Séralini et al in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. The authors concluded that rats exposed to a type of GM maize (NK603) and an herbicide containing the substance glyphosate had a higher incidence of tumours.

After citing flaws in the study in its initial evaluation, such as insufficient controls and sample sizes (see RET 5/10/2012), Efsa carried out a second evaluation. The agency found that “deficiencies in the Séralini et al. paper mean it is of insufficient scientific quality for risk assessment”, according to Per Bergman, who led Efsa’s analysis.

The conclusions were based on Efsa’s own evaluation and assessments from six European member states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. Bergman said: “These reviews have demonstrated a consensus among a significant part of the EU risk assessment community that the conclusions of Séralini et al are not supported by the data in the published paper.”