In our coverage Tuesday of the republication of the controversial retracted study of GMOs and rats by Gilles Seralini and colleagues, we wrote this about a strange passage in an editor’s note on the paper:
The republished study was peer-reviewed, according to the press materials, and Seralini confirmed that it was in an email to Retraction Watch. But we were curious what “any kind of appraisal of the paper’s content should not be connoted” meant. We asked Seralini and the editor of Environmental Sciences Europe, Henner Hollert, but neither responded.
Hollert has responded to the same question from Nature, which reports:
Environmental Sciences Europe (ESEU) decided to re-publish the paper to give the scientific community guaranteed long-term access to the data in the retracted paper, editor-in-chief Henner Hollert told Nature. “We were Springer Publishing’s first open access journal on the environment, and are a platform for discussion on science and regulation at a European and regional level.” ESEU conducted no scientific peer review, he adds, “because this had already been conducted by Food and Chemical Toxicology, and had concluded there had been no fraud nor misrepresentation.” The role of the three reviewers hired by ESEU was to check that there had been no change in the scientific content of the paper, Hollert adds.
This is actually what we thought that passage meant, and that makes it all the more mystifying why Seralini told us, in press materials and in a follow-up email, that the republished paper was peer-reviewed. At least one Retraction Watch commenter has repeated that claim.
It’s this sort of thing that made one of us (Ivan) say the following when a reporter from CBS News called earlier this week:
“This whole episode has taken us farther away from knowing the truth,” Ivan Oransky, a founder and editor of retractionwatch.com, told CBS News.
“The ratio of politics to science when it comes to discussions of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] is so high that I think it often ceases to be useful,” said Oransky, a journalist with a medical degree who is also vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today.
He also said:
“This is a good example of what happens when people with hardened beliefs manipulate a system for the result they want,” Oransky told CBS News. “Science should be about following the evidence, appropriately changing your mind if the evidence warrants it. But in this case people seem to reject the evidence that doesn’t suit their needs.”