GMOs, Dr. Oz and Real Scientists

My Generation

University of Illinois food scientists sheds light on motives and process in producing a Dr. Oz show on GMOs. No surprise, large agendas at play.

Published on: October 19, 2012

Here's what I like to see: straightforward conversations about food and technology. No backroom deals. No agendas. No one side negotiating for more airtime, or re-recording a statement so no one can contradict them. A look at real science by real scientists.

And certainly, I haven't watched daytime TV since, well, I can't remember when. But I have read enough of Dr. Oz to know neither I, nor anyone else, can logically expect to get sound diet or medical advice from him. And as an aside, who wears scrubs all the time?  

And then I came across this: a letter from Dr. Bruce Chassy to the producers of Dr. Oz's show, written in response to their efforts to have him appear on a Dr. Oz show about GMOs and food production. Chassy is a professor emeritus of food science at the University of Illinois. When I was on campus, he was head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and later became Assistant Dean for Science Communications. This is all to say, he knows his stuff and he's been around the block a time or two. Reading the letter, it's clear he had grave misgivings about their ability to produce an unbiased show. As it turns out, the show is set to air just before the election, and (not coincidentally) just before California votes on Proposition 37, which would require labeling of any GM product.

Give the letter a read. My favorite line from Dr. Chassy: "Your assurances and the tactics of the Dr. Oz show fall short of even the lowest standards of media and medical ethics." Zing.

And a further aside: it all makes me wonder what sort of back room deals Wayne Pacelle struck with Oprah to keep real hog producers like Matt Kellogg from having an open mic during her animal welfare show. It's tough to think that even the scientists and the farmers can't get a fair shake on some of these shows. But that's another blog for another day.