Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Pat is recovering today from foot surgery, catching up on some daytime television, which, unfortunately, includes Doctor Oz. As I was scooting up to my computer after a quick lunch she called from the den: “Doctor Oz has a show about GMO food.”

I joined her to see what propaganda the television personality would inflict on his studio and television audience. It was absurd.

I watched about five minutes and heard enough of the usual misinformation to convince me that the good doctor is as ignorant of GMO technology as are many of the other anti-science activists that use fear and hyperbole to convince the public that genetically modified organisms will be the death of society.

His opening gambit included a suggestion that researchers “might” take a gene from a fish, which tolerates cold, and transfer it to a tomato to make it frost-proof. Notice the tem “might,” not researchers are working on transferring a fish gene or have contemplated such, but that they “might” do so.  And what if they do? I eat fish.

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He further displayed his ignorance of the subject by “explaining” that GMO technology inserts “pesticide resistance” into a plant. He used the term “pesticide resistance,” not herbicide resistance, and not pest resistance, and then implied that because of that resistance farmers use more pesticides to kill bugs because “they become more comfortable with using pesticides.” Oz apparently does not understand the difference between what kills a weed and what kills a caterpillar.

Norman Borlaug and GMO.

He also claimed that pesticide use has soared in recent years because of GMO technology.

He  asked his studio audience, a group of people who are most likely already convinced that Oz is the “wise and all-knowing wizard,” of that fantasy land where monkeys fly and shoes are magic, if they would choose GMO products over non-GMO if they had a choice. Surprise, the anti-GMO vote was overwhelming.

And, once again, he offers no reason why consumers should choose to forego GMO foods, just that they “aren’t natural.”

A more reliable, and more informed source, the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, said that genetic engineering will be essential to feed the world as the population continues to put pressure on food production. I’ll take the word of a renowned plant scientist, Nobel Laureate, and one of the world’s true humanitarians over the misguided blather of a doctor-turned entertainer.


More on GMO:

Misinformation abounds regarding GMOs

Americans not avoiding biotech foods; don’t want labels

Agricultural technology critical to feed 9 billion people

TAGS: Vegetables
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