The French study published last week on genetically engineered corn and tumors in rats was, at the very least, not something on which public policy should be based. There were problems with the sample sizes, issues about the types of rats used and questions about why, if the genetically engineered corn was the culprit, rats that ate a lot of the corn did not get as sick as those that ate more moderate amounts.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the study, though, is the effort made by the researchers to ensure that the first wave of coverage of their study would include no criticism of it. As Reuters reported:
"In an unusual move, the research group did not allow reporters to seek outside comment on their paper before its publication in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology and presentation at a news conference in London."
In other words, in order to receive early, embargoed copies of the study, which is the traditional way of disseminating information on peer-reviewed research, journalists had to agree not to interview other experts who might point out flaws. Though they could do so afterward, and many did, the initial, breaking stories on the study could include no expert criticism.