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GMO Foods Pros and Cons debated on ‘The Dr. Oz Show’

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Grains - credit: National Cancer Institute PD

(Best Syndication News) - On his show today, Doctor Mehmet Oz invited three experts to debate the pros and cons of Genetically Modified Organism foods. The experts discussed how GMO seeds are created and debated the safety of the foods that are produced from them.

In the US, Doctor Oz explained, around 80 percent of all packaged foods contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). There is currently a project to develop and sell GMO Salmon for human consumption; but that will need FDA approval first.

Oz explained that 20 years ago the food-supply chain was radically changed when genetically engineered foods were first introduced. New super crops were genetically modified when one genetic component was spliced into the DNA of another.

It has been argued that we are able to grow more crops and much cheaper food because of this new technology. Around 85 percent of the corn, sugar beets, soybeans, and canola are grown from GMO seeds.

The largest producer of GMO seeds is the Monsanto Corporation. Most of these GMO plants have been designed to tolerate the herbicide Round-up, also made by Monsanto. Oz noted that six European countries have banned GMO foods. A poll of the audience members found that 80 percent said that they would not buy the food if they knew it was genetically modified.

Doctor Oz assembled a panel of three experts on GMO; two of them were leery or against the GMO foods, while one was in favor of the process. Pamela Ronald, PhD is Professor of Plant Pathology, University of California Davis and Author of the book Tomorrow’s Table was in favor of genetically engineered foods. Michael Hansen PhD, Senior Researcher at the Consumer’s Union, had studied the effects of GMO and said more research needs to be completed to test the safety. Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director at the Institute for Responsible Technology and author of the book, Seeds of Deception, wants to see mandatory labeling of GMO food.

Michael Hansen explained the process. To make a GMO food scientists splice a virus and bacteria into the soybean plant. When sprayed with Roundup, the plant will not be killed.

Jeffrey Smith said that foods such as soy (tofu), corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, corn on the cob, sugar from sugar beets, papaya, and zucchini are all modified food crops.

Doctor Oz demonstrated how DNA is changed using two different colored ladders. One rung on the ladder was placed on the other color ladder making a new plant.

Hansen said that the beginning of the GMO foods trace back to Monsanto. Doctor Oz said his producers asked for Monsanto to come on the show but they declined.

Monsanto did provide some statements. In the Monsanto Safety Statement it says -

“There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans. So long as the introduced protein is determined safe, food from GM crops determined to be substantially equivalent is not expected to pose any health risks. Further, it is impossible to design a long-term safety test in humans.”

Pamela Ronald, PhD said that genetic engineering allowed scientists to take a gene from a different species to make a plant grow better. She believes this could be beneficial for future generations.

Doctor Oz said that those in favor of Genetic Engineering say that it makes for a cheaper food supply. The technology helps to make farming easier in unfavorable climates. GM foods could possibly make disease-fighting foods for humans. They could help improve the lives of farmers. There are fewer pesticides used on these plants.

Doctor Oz then introduced the list of concerns that come from those opposing side of the genetically modified food debate. Do the modified foods make endocrine disruptors? Will humans suffer organ damage? Is there decreased fertility in humans? Are the modified foods creating more allergies? The modified foods may be creating pesticide resistance.

Michael Hansen said there may be allergic concerns with genetically modified salmon.
There is evidence that roundup is an endocrine disrupter. He added that there has been an increase in pesticides used by farmers; 330 million pounds more than before.

Ronald said that there has not been a single instance to harm of human health or the environment using genetically modified crops.

Refuting Ronald, Jeffrey said there is a lot of misleading information. He said that the American Academy of Environmental Medicine found harm done to animals in feeding studies. There was reproductive disorders, immune system problems, and accelerated aging. This organization said that doctors should prescribe humans GMO-free diets.

Ronald argued that all the claims Jeffrey makes have been discredited at Academicsreview.org, biofortified.org, and biotic.org websites. She said that all of these are university-based rebuttals against what is being said by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. Ronald said that science does not make policy but instead goes with the best consensus. Ronald pointed out that Jeffrey is not a scientist.

Oz said that since European countries have banned the GMO foods, their scientists must be asking questions about safety. Ronald said that these countries still import the GMO foods to feed their animals.

Hansen believes that we need more science before bringing the crop to the people. He added that there are no requirements for government safety testing in the United States.

Jeffrey said that he has worked with many doctors to write this book, “Genetic Roulette”. The labeling of GMO foods is important, he added, but because there is currently no GMO labeling requirements he set up a website (nongmoshoppingguide.com) Users can find thousands non-GMO foods. There is also a list of stores where they can buy them. People can make healthier choices for their kids, he added.

Ronald said that she loves the idea of labeling foods. What she would also like to see on the labels is how much pesticide, water, and land was used to grow the product.

Doctor Oz shared Monsanto’s response on labeling. Monsanto writes:

“Requiring labeling for ingredients that don’t pose a health issue would undermine both our labeling laws and consumer confidence.”

Doctor Oz said that you can vote with your pocket book; you do not have to wait for more science.

By: Nancy Connors

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