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Irina Ermakova (Ири́на Влади́мировна Ермако́ва) (born 1952) is a Russian neuroscientist who tries to pass herself off as a pathologist. Her main activity is campaigning against GM crops. To bolster her cause, she conducted a shabby feeding trial on some rats.
Ermakova acquired notoriety when she publicized the results of her experiments on rats fed with glyphosate-tolerant (a.k.a. Roundup Ready) soybeans. She claimed that the fertility of rats was decreased when fed with GM soy, and their offspring was stunted and suffered from low survival rates. These findings were never published in a peer-reviewed journal, instead being 'published' in the proceedings of a conference in Germany, co-sponsored by Greenpeace and featuring an all-star cast of anti-GMO cranks. Despite this, these findings were widely disseminated by the anti-GMO movement, and remain an oft repeated talking point.
When the experiments were investigated by other GM researchers, the experiment was revealed to contain multiple flaws.
- Infant mortality in the control group of rats was very high, suggesting that the rats were treated poorly or had inadequate diets. No useful data can be extracted from feeding trials botched in this way.
- Weight of infant rats was over 20% below average for both groups, further suggesting the rats were mistreated or malnourished.
- Ermakova used two uncharacterized fractions of soy. In other words, what she fed to the rats might have been two different varieties or mixtures of varieties with completely different nutrient content.
A comment published in Nature Biotechnology highlights the many errors which render her results useless. Moreover, the commenting scientists called her out on her hypocrisy: Ermakova said in an earlier letter that she is not sure about the results, yet she used every venue available to her to publicize this experiment, drawing extremely far-reaching conclusions from it.
- Irina Ermakova's website (last updated in 2007)
- Her page on the Russian Wikipedia
- http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v25/n12/full/nbt1207-1356b.html Abstract at nature.com.