cornTop scientists have called into question the credibility of a study suggesting that GM maize can cause cancer in rats.

Rodents fed a lifelong diet of a common strain of GM corn developed breast tumours and suffered damage to their livers and kidneys, according to a team from the University of Caen.

However, others said that the team had used a breed of rat naturally susceptible to cancer, and that the control group was too small.

“Until you know the degree of variation in 90 or 180 control rodents, these results are of no value,” says Anthony Trewavas, a professor of cell biology at Edinburgh University. “That is what should have been done and no doubt reflects the predetermined bias of the experimenters and the funding groups.”

Adds Prof Tom Sanders, head of nutritional sciences research at King’s College London:

“It would appear the authors have gone on a statistical fishing trip.”

The Institute of Food Science & Technology also issued a statement on the study. It said: “Food scientists and technologists can support the responsible introduction of GM techniques provided that issues of product safety, environmental concerns, information and ethics are satisfactorily addressed. IFST considers that they are being addressed, and need even more intensively to continue to be so addressed. Only in this way may the benefits that this technology can confer become available, not least to help feed the world’s escalating population in the coming decades.”

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