You know, I honestly don’t know whom to trust or what to believe when it comes to GMO and biotechnology anymore. I don’t see the need to be messing with foods that have grown relatively naturally for years; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I think that there are probably going to be serious consequences to nature as a result of these foods and there may be unknown risks to our own health as a result of consuming foods.
The prompt for this latest rant was a link to an open letter to the Dr. Oz Show Producers shared by many via twitter over the past several days. As I always enjoy the discrediting of Dr. Oz I decided to give it a read. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way though. It was written by Dr. Bruce Chassy, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Illinois. His undergrad degree was in chemistry and his Ph.D. in biotechnology. As a bit of an aside, why is he teaching courses in nutrition? Food product development and safety, sure, but nutrition? Yet, he’s complaining about the inclusion of Jeffrey Smith as part of the Dr. Oz Show because he isn’t a scientist and therefore, isn’t qualified to comment on genetic modification of food. Pot meet kettle. Sure, his educational background may make him more qualified to teach nutrition than Smith is to educate about GM (he’s a marketing consultant turned activist). Anyway… more to the point… I think one of the main issues with this whole GMO debate is that many of the people who are most qualified to educate us on the topic are also in positions of conflict of interest. Most of these people, including Dr. Chassy, receive research funding from the companies responsible for the development of GMO (1). Can you trust the research results from a study in which the researcher has a vested interest in seeing a certain result? You probably shouldn’t. We need long-term unbiased research studies to know for certain.
This brings to mind the recent controversy over the study from France showing harmful effects of GMO and Monsanto’s Roundup Ready in rats. I actually had a blog post all lined-up and ready to go advising people to be cautious about GMO on the basis of that study. Then I read another post dissecting the study on the basis of the type of rats used and stuff. I don’t know anything about lab rats and I didn’t want to be taken for a fool so I deleted my post. Since then, many scientists have come to the support of Seralini while others have condemned his study. I’m still not entirely sure which side to believe and it’s also important to note that Seralini has backing from an anti-GMO agency, meaning that his research is also unlikely to be free from bias.
Perhaps GMO will prove to be safe but the key word here is prove. At this point we still don’t know enough and I’m personally not keen on being a test subject.