Always Follow the Science, Neurologica Blog Advises | Tech News
We know that the world is round because of science. We have an exceptional understanding of how gravity works, thanks to science. We also know that GMOs are safe for human consumption because of science. According to a Pew Center poll, 88 percent of scientists believe genetically engineered foods are safe. That’s more than the percentage of scientists who believe global warming is the result of human activity (87 percent).
However, just like there are some outliers in the “world is round” consensus (albeit NBA player Kyrie Irving is not a scientist), there are those who ignore the science and claim GMOs are bad for human consumption.
As Steven Novella recounts in a piece for Neurologica Blog, French researcher Gilles-Éric Séralini is one of those outliers. In 2012, Seralini concluded that GMOs are unsafe for human consumption based on a study he conducted on rats consuming GM corn. A year later, the study had to be retracted for not meeting scientific standards. As Novella notes, “Séralini’s study was terrible.”
It immediately came under intense criticism. Specifically, the study had small sample size, and used a strain of rats known to have a high background rate of tumors. The data, therefore, was full of noise and was essentially uninterpretable. This is probably the reason for the lack of statistical analysis – because there were no significant findings.
Even so, for anti-GMO activists, the study was reliable enough and credible – after all, it perfectly aligned with their beliefs. But for those that trust science, Novella argues the best way to truly tell science from fiction is replication:
And when researchers tried to replicate Séralini’s study – in three separate attempts – the scientific consensus prevailed:
Three transparent and more rigorous studies all showing no negative effects of rodents consuming GMO corn. That is the problem with spurious findings from poor-quality studies – they tend not to replicate. They don’t replicate because the results were never real.
Moreover, the reason the scientific community agrees that GMOs are safe is because the studies proving this claim have been replicated thousands of times.
There have been over 2000 studies, carried out in many different countries by many different research teams, and reviewed by many different scientific organizations, with a clear consensus that there is no evidence that existing GMOs pose any health risk. With all of this evidence, there are a few outliers, one of which being Séralini’s research. Now his findings have been directly refuted.
Nevertheless, Novella understands that, like those that believe the world is flat, there will always be those that don’t follow the science on GMOs.
I hope this matters to the general public, but of course it won’t have an affect on those with a dedicated anti-GMO ideology. People seem to have no problem cherry picking a few outlier studies that agree with their position, and dismissing hundreds or thousands of studies that disagree with them.