Dr. Mehmet Oz gave credence Wednesday to a controversial study that the scientific community has thoroughly discredited, much to the dismay of scientists who hoped for a fact-based discussion of genetically modified food on his syndicated TV program.
“We find these claims and corresponding graphic representations to be highly misleading and irresponsible,” said a statement published by 17 scientists, researchers, and health professionals.
In a 20-minute segment devoted to genetically modified foods, Oz interviewed a physician named Robert Bernhoft, who praised a study by the French anti-biotech activist Gilles-Eric Seralini claiming that genetically modified corn caused lab rats to grow tumors.
Dr. Oz displayed photos of the rats with enormous tumors but failed to mention that the study has been rejected as unscientific by the European Food Safety Authority and other scientific agencies and didn’t mention the fact that the type of rats used in the study typically develop tumors as they age, regardless of their diet.
“The rats shown on the Oz show are a strain that has a very high incidence of cancer, and would have developed the same proportion of cancers no matter what (they were) fed - including organic food and herbal teas, or whatever,” said Professor Jonathan Gressel of Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. “If Dr. Oz is a competent medical practitioner, he surely should have known that.” READ MORE »
In observance of World Food Day, C. S. Prakash, Ph. D. of the College of Agriculture at Tuskegee University remarked that ag biotech remains vitally important in the fight against world hunger, through the production of plants that resist pests and disease responsible for significant crop damage in the developing world, and the continued cultivation of more nutritious strains of staple crops.
“Biotechnology represents a frontier advance in agricultural science, and has far-reaching potential in advancing global food production in an environmentally sustainable manner,” he stated, reiterating as well that “leading scientists around the world are attesting to the health and environmental safety of agricultural biotechnology, and now they are calling for genetically modified crops to be extended to the people who need it most - hungry people in the developing world.”
As we continue to work towards eliminating world hunger amid an expanding global population, Dr. Prakash concluded that “biotechnology represents a powerful tool that we can employ in concert with many other traditional approaches in increasing food production in the face of diminishing land and water resources.” Read more.
Genetic engineering can lead to beneficial advances in human nutrition and the fight against world hunger, according to the top science advisor to Pope Benedict XVI.
“Thanks to the recent advances in genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, it has become possible to direct biological evolution in order to better fulfill our needs for a healthy nutrition as a contribution to medically relevant improvements,” said Dr. Werner Arber, president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which advises the pope on scientific matters. Arber is a Swiss molecular biologist who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1978. He is the first non-Catholic to serve as head of the academy.
“Our Academy concluded that recently established methods of preparing transgenic organisms follow natural laws of biological evolution and bear no risks anchored in the methodology of genetic engineering,” he recently told the pope and an audience of bishops meeting in Rome. “The beneficial prospects for improving widely-used nutritional crops can be expected to alleviate the still-existing malnutrition and hunger in the human population of the developing world.” Read more.
Farmers who planted drought-tolerant corn varieties this year said the corn appeared to endure drought better than other varieties, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“It seems like it takes a lot more stress, it’s a lot more tolerant,” said a farmer in Nebraska who planted DuPont’s drought tolerant corn variety Optimum AQUAmax.
A study published in 2010 by Iowa State University points out that conventional breeding techniques and biotechnology used by agricultural companies including Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta have already helped to reduce drought related losses for the U.S. corn crop by 1 percent a year in the last decade.
Researchers note that even small gains in corn bioengineering can lead to significant improvements in the size of corn crops and have “a huge economic impact.” David Lightfoot from Southern Illinois University says progress is going to have the biggest payoff for the crops that have grown in some of the driest areas of Midwest. Read more.
A review of available scientific evidence about genetically modified (GM) crops clearly indicates their benefits for environmental sustainability and managing drought, according to an article by New Scientist.
“By reducing the need for tilling, for example, GM crops have enabled farmers to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, a small but important contribution to the fight against climate change. And GM promises more: creating drought-resistant crops that will thrive in the warmer climates of the future, for instance,” it points out in the October issue of the magazine.
The journal notes that considering biotechnology along with other agricultural traditions is necessary to develop solutions for “more productive, sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture.” Read more.