Thursday, 12 December 2013

ABC stands by story on GM foods

ABC Rural has responded to criticism of a story it published about genetically modified foods, which featured Prof Brian Priestly from the Monash Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, who heads DEPM's Australian Centre for Human Health Risk Assessment (ACHHRA).

The radio station aired the news that a scientific study published in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal had been retracted. This study examined the effects of genetically modified food on rats, and suggested the GM foods caused higher rates of cancer.

However, after criticism from a variety of scientists, the journal retracted the study.

ABC Rural received a complaint that their story was factually inaccurate, but after further review their producers found no fault with the station’s account of events.

In the original broadcast, Prof Priestly explained why he believed the retraction was the right thing to do.

"The study had design flaws such as having very few animals (compared to standard research practice) in the sample groups,” he said.

"That makes it very difficult to to draw conclusions but the authors went ahead and did so anyway."

He says the fact it took the publishers more than a year to retract the article was due to process.

"Food and Chemical Toxicology is one of the leading journals in the field and my opinion is that they were caught between a rock and a hard place,” he continued.

"Despite the fact there were a lot of criticisms about the paper, they took a long time to review their refereeing process; they actually asked for the raw data from the study authors and subjected that to an extensive review.”

"It was only after they'd done all of that, and that takes time, they decided that upon inspection, that the paper should be retracted.”

"My view is the paper probably shouldn't have got through the refereeing process in the first place, it probably shouldn't have been published in the first place.”

"It's important to note Professor Seralini and the authors weren't accused of fraud, the usual reason for withdrawing an article.”

"It was simply found that the results of the study didn't support the conclusions drawn: that the GM corn produced the cancerous tumours in the rats."

1 comment:

  1. Its extremely disappointing that this 'study' was published in the first place..

    Despite being retracted (finally), the damage is done. People will refer to this 'study' whenever arguing against the safety of GM food for many years to come.

    Even if the authors have technically not comitted fraud, they have still published a study that draws some very significant and potentially damaging conclusions, from a study with a dramatically undersized sample. I highly doubt that the authors wouldn't have known that the conclusions they chose to draw from the results were, at the very least, stretching the truth.

    I mean, anyone who has learnt about research even on a basic level, would have been taught the importance of sample size and statistical significance. It's very basic stuff, which is why this should never have been published in the first place...



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