Letter to Dr. Oz Show Producers by Bruce Chassy, PhD | Academics Review

"The tactics of the Dr. Oz show fall short of even the lowest standards of media and medical ethics."

via Letter to Dr. Oz Show Producers by Bruce Chassy, PhD | Academics Review.

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Dr. Oz has done a good thing by endorsing labeling of GMOs. Whether or not Jeffery Smith is a credible source is not relevant. I agree that many of his points simply establish correlation not causation. However, the right to know if a food is genetically engineered goes far beyond currently established health claims.

Genetic engineering necessarily causes unintended side effects and all geneticists know this. Bruce Chassy presents himself as a public sector scientists but he has received multiple research grants from biotech companies. Nevertheless, even Bruce Chassy knows in his heart that genetic engineering necessarily causes unintended side effects?


Because genes do not operate in isolation to one another. How a gene behave depends on its neighbors in the genetic code. Proteins expressed have regulatory functions that turn off, turn on, promote or inhibit the genes around it. These effects feedback and affect the gene in turn. The vast recursive complexity of the code makes it a marvel of biological evolution no less wonderful than the interconnectedness of ecological systems.

Genetic engineers shoot genes randomly into DNA. The genes made land anywhere in the code. But where they land matters. The gene will enter and have a specific role in a genetic network depending on where it lands. Bruce Chassy knows this. Monsanto knows this.

But they do not tell this.

Instead, they project the idea that genetic engineering is a cool, calculated science that is precisely controlled and that anyone who opposes it is an irrational Luddhite. This does a disservice to the spirit of science and free inquiry.

It is completely reasonable, indeed scientific, to demand that an analysis of network interactions be done comprehensively to assess physiological and biochemical effects. Unfortunately, many genes operate differently in different environmental contexts, based on stresses and other factors, and the short-term studies of biotech companies could never establish the type of "substantive equivalence" that the biotech industry wants the public to believe it has acquired.

Given the lax regulation of the FDA, labeling is the minimum practice for good science. We need to monitor effects of different groups in long term studies and will not be able to do that if we don't know who is eating what.

By Ramsey Affifi (not verified) on 18 Oct 2012 #permalink

"Genetic engineering necessarily causes unintended side effects and all geneticists know this."

Conspiracy warning: unsubstantiated extraordinary claim ahead.

Ramsey, it is true that the location of gene insertion is not planned. However, the story does not end there!

A genetic engineer creates many "events" - plant lines that have different insertion points for the same gene of interest. The events are then screened for any problems that might be due to the insertion location, random mutations, the tissue culture process, etc. Those problem lines are removed from the breeding program and destroyed. The events are also screened for success of the new trait. Of course, only events with good expression of the trait of interest continue in the breeding program. Once these events with good expression and no obvious problems are found, additional screening and breeding begins. The insertion sites are identified so you know exactly where in the genome the insertions are located.

One interesting twist - when a new trait is discovered or created via mutagenesis, there often isn't any screening as there is for genetic engineering. We often (I'd even go so far as to say usually!) don't know the genetic changes causing traits that we are interested in. For example - it was just in the past few months that scientists looked at the gene responsible for uniformly red tomatoes and found that the gene also causes a bland taste (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/06/28/155917345/how-the-taste-of-…). For how many years have we all been eating a totally uncharacterized genetic change in tomatoes?! And that's just one example.

By Anastasia Bodnar (not verified) on 22 Oct 2012 #permalink

If you want safe food you need to know how it was grown or processed.

pink slime
listeria outbreaks, e coli outbreaks, salmonella outbreaks
mad cow, antibiotics in feed
fire retardant in milk, arsenic in rice,
never ending recalls after people are poisoned

Prop 37 is just the start and more labeling will be demanded by California. Thanks for voting yes on 37

It is just a label and next to be labeled. Herbicides, Pesticides, Fungicides