Dr. Oz Presents Highly Inaccurate Information

An October 2012 airing of the Dr. Oz television program includes the use of graphic images alleging associations between specific health risks and foods from crops produced using agricultural biotechnology.  We the undersigned academics, scientists, researchers, health and related professionals find these claims and corresponding graphic representations to be highly misleading and irresponsible.

Dr. Mehmet Oz has repeatedly allowed Jeffrey Smith, an activist with no scientific or medical background or other relevant credentials, to appear on his program and make claims that GMOs are somehow associated with human health and safety risks.   As Dr. Oz  and his producers have been repeatedly informed: 

  • The safety of biotech-derived foods has been thoroughly addressed by the international scientific community through decades of peer reviewed, published research.
  • U.S.  and international regulatory, science and health agencies including the Food & Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority and the World Health Organization confirm these foods are safe.
  • Highly respected, independent academic, science and health organizations such as the American Medical Association, the National Academies of Science and the American Dietetics Association have all confirmed these foods are safe.
  • The health and safety claims made by Jeffrey Smith, repeatedly promoted on the Dr. Oz Show, his affiliated radio programs and websites, are without basis and refuted by extensive peer reviewed scientific and medical research.

Yet, after being clearly informed of these facts, the Dr. Oz Show aired graphic images of tumor-riddled laboratory rats and charts implying associations with the use of biotechnology crops and alleged increases in human health issues ranging from ulcerative colitis to gastrointestinal disorders.  Academic health experts, invited to appear on the program by Dr. Oz, informed the host and program producers that the graphics provided by Jeffrey Smith had no medical relevance or accuracy whatsoever and urged that they not be used. 

Viewers of this and similar Dr. Oz productions with Jeffrey Smith are being presented with highly inaccurate and irresponsible health-related advice.  That Dr. Oz Show program co-producer Lisa Oz, a collaborator and narrator for Mr. Smith’s latest video which uses these same graphics and which is being used to promote a California ballot initiative about GMOs, presents a further impression of a conflict-of-interest in the program’s promotion of Smith and these baseless safety allegations so close to the November election date.

We urge Dr. Oz to make an immediate public statement disavowing these misleading health claims promoted by his show, and we urge his program promoters, sponsors and distributors (including: Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios and Sony Pictures Television Distribution) to reevaluate their continued involvement with this or any programs which promote such baseless and irresponsible health claims.

(Scroll to bottom of page to sign and view additional names and comments.)

Nina V. Fedoroff, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Evan Pugh Professor, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Penn State University, United States

Comment: “I am particularly outraged because Dr. Oz’s producer assured me repeatedly that this show would not be structured to support the “GMOs are dangerous” scenario, but would present a scientifically defensible perspective. What a joke! My only regret is that I actually helped engage two very respected scientists, Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin and Dr.Alison L. Van Eenennaam in this farce. My apologies to them.” 

Wayne Parrott, PhD
College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia, United States

Martina Newell-McGloughlin, D.Sc.
Director, UC Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program (UCBREP), Co-Director, NIH Training Program in Biomolecular Technology, Adjunct Associate Professor,  University of California Davis, United States

 Prof. Chris J Leaver, PhD, CBE, FRS, FRS
Emeritus Professor Plant Science University of Oxford, England

Peggy G. Lemaux, PhD
University of California Berkeley, United States
Comment: “This is irresponsible journalism and a disservice to the American people, raising a health specter that simply is not true.

Bruce Chassy, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Food Science, Nutritional Sciences FSHN, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States

Ingo Potrykus, PhD
Professor emeritus, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zuerich, Switzerland

 Kent J. Bradford, PhD
Director, Seed Biotechnology Center, University of California Davis, United States

Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Jacobsen, PhD
Leibniz-Universität Hannover, Germany

 Prof. Atanas Atanassov, PhD
Joint Genomic Center, Sofia University, Bulgaria

Prof. Robert Wager, BSc, MA 
Microbiology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Vancouver Island University, Canada

Henry I. Miller, MD
Robert Wesson Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, United States

Comment: “Regrettably, Dr. Oz has demonstrated yet again his inclination to embrace and promulgate New Age nescience.  He is a fraud and a huckster, a Jeffrey Smith with a stethoscope.”

Piero Morandini, PhD
Assistant professor in Plant Physiology, Lecturer in Plant Biotecnology Dept. of BioScience, University of Milan, Italy

Comment: “The graphics are of the ‘Stork type.’  In the late ’50s the stork population was declining in Germany and the same was true for the human population. The conclusion for some people was then that grandma was right, storks bring babies! Even if there is any time coincidence between two phenomena, this does not mean that one causes the other.  The graphs are also highly misleading since the vast majority of genetically engineered plants are used as feed and not for food. Claiming that they cause an increase in all the mentioned illnesses in some indirect way is nonsense.”

Jonathon Harrington, BSc, Chartered Biologist & Farmer
Wales, United Kingdom

Maria Mercedes Roca, PhD
Plant Pathologist, Biosafety Program, Department of Environmental and Development Studies, Zamorano University,  Honduras

Drew L. Kershen, J.D., LL.M
Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law (Emeritus), University of Oklahoma, College of Law, United States

Luis Destefano Beltrán, Ph.D
Professor, Genomics Research Unit, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Perú

Professor Malcolm Elliott, BSc, PhD, DSc, CBiol, FSB
Norman Borlaug Institute for Global Food Security, United Kingdom

Steven H. Strauss, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Oregon State University, United States 

Comment:  “Dr. Oz needs to distance himself from outrageous charlatans such as Smith. It will undermine his credibility, and thus the value and trust in other information he presents. This would be a piety as he often presents good, highly valued health information.”

Gilbert L. Ross, MD
American Council on Science & Health, United States
Comment “As medical and executive director of the American Council on Science and Health, a consumer education nonprofit devoted to sound-science based public health policy, I would like to sign the petition for myself and for ACSH as well.

Prof. Jonathan Gressel
Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Comment: “The rats shown on the Oz show are a strain that has a very high incidence of cancer, and would have developed the same proportion of cancers no matter what fed – including organic food and herbal teas, or whatever.  If Dr Oz is a competent medical practitioner, he surely should have known that.

Professor Alan McHughen, D.Phil.
University of California Riverside, United States

Tony Shelton, PhD
Professor Department of Entomology, International Professor; Associate Director International Programs, Cornell University, United States

 C.S. Prakash, PhD
Professor, Tuskegee University, United States

Rakha Hari Sarker, PhD
Professor, Department of Botany, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

L Val Giddings PhD.
Senior Fellow Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Washington, DC.  United States

 Dr. William J. Price
Statistician, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, United States

Steven  N. Blair, Professor
Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, United States
Comment: “I am very concerned with the growing amount of ‘false science’ promoted via the popular media. We need higher standards.”

Elizabeth Hodson de J. Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia

Professor Anthony Trewavas Ph.D. FRS.
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Comment: “Unfortunately the world is full of opinionated people who do not have either the qualifications or understanding to make any sensible comment on food or food technology. To ask Jeffrey Smith about food is as about as useful as asking the meat counter employee in the supermarket how to conduct a detailed heart operation.”

David Tribe, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology and Safety, Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Comment: “Healthy food decisions very important to us all. It is unfair to ordinary Americans to have a TV program that mentions misleading, badly designed and wrongly interpreted experiments on rats as if they were good health advice. Film directors are not qualified health advisers either. The American public deserve much better than Dr Oz gives them on this program.

Camille (Cami) D. Ryan, B.Comm., Ph.D.
College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Kevin M. Folta, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Asst. Director, Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, University of Florida, United States
Comment: “There’s an oath somewhere that says, “Do no harm”. Perpetuation of misinformation from profiteering, scare-mongering, non-scientific authors harms the advancement of applied science and ultimately harms the people that need science the most.

L. Curtis Hannah, PhD,
Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, University of Florida, United States
Comment: “Foods, like people, should be judged by their intrinsic merits and not their genetic origin.”

Meghan Wulster-Radcliffe, PhD
CEO, American Society of Animal Science, United States

Robert Stone, BSA UofS Saskatoon SK
Stone Farms, Davidson Sk., Canada

Neal Carter, P.Eng
Comment: “I have worked around the globe for ~30 years as a bioresource engineer, which has given me a first-hand look at the value of biotechnology and the challenges it can help to overcome. As president and founder of an agriculture biotechnology company, I am painfully aware of the lack of public understanding of biotech foods. One of the main reasons for this lack of knowledge is the misinformation propagated by influential individuals that consumers trust, like Dr. Oz. It is extremely unfortunate when consumers turn to “health experts” for advice and instead are given misleading information based on pseudoscience that has been refuted by nearly all reputable scientific bodies. If Dr. Oz truly is concerned with providing his followers with reputable health advice, he will focus on the scientific evidence and, like the AMA, WHO, UN FAO and many more, will acknowledge that approved biotech foods are just as healthy and safe as their conventional counterparts.

Leah McGrath – RD, LDN
Comment: “Thank you. This only confirms my fears about Dr. Oz. It’s unfortunate that he has become so widely watched when he promotes no or bad science. This type of tabloid TV attracts and alarms many needlessly.

Gary B. Anderson, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, United States

Josephine Trott, PhD
Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, United States
Comment: “GMO foods have decades of sound scientific research behind them to prove they are perfectly safe. Scare mongering based on shoddy science is not a public service and any medical professional should be smart enough to know that.”

Juan F. Medrano, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, United States

Alex Murdoch, B.Sc., CPHI(C)
Certified Public Health Inspector, Canada

Ralph A. Ernst, PHD
Retired Extension Poultry Specialist, University of California, Davis, United States

James D. Murray, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Animal Science, Department of Population Health and Reproduction, Chair, Animal Biology Graduate Group, University of California, Davis CA, United States

Gary B. Anderson, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, United States

Alan B. Bennett, Ph.D.
Professor, University of California, Davis, United States

Dr. Shanthu Shantharam
Professor of Seed Technology and Biosafety Institute for the Genetically Modified Agricultural Products, Iowa State University, United States
Comment: “Formerly, Branch Chief of the Biotechnology Regulatory Services, USDA-APHIS, Riverdale, MD, USA. Taught Agbiotech Policy Development and Analysis at Princeton University and Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok.

Prof. em. Klaus Ammann
Steering Committee Public Research and Regulation Initiative, University of Bern, Switzerland
Comment: “It is time to stop this kind of misinformation ignoring science, it’s a new kind of analphabetism by just following hearsay information.”

Mark Cantley, BA (Cantab, mathematics), MSc, Dip Operational Research (London School of Economics), CDipAF (Accounting and Finance), United Kingdom
Comment: “Currently retired. Previously head of the Concertation Unit for Biotechnology in Europe (CUBE) in the Directorate-General for Research, European Commission, 1978-1992, and 1999-2005; and of the Operational Research group in the Management and Technology Unit at OECD, Paris, 1993-1998).Our Unit in the EC fought against regulatory follies on biotechnology, from 1979 to 1992; losing the battle with the envirocrats at European and national levels. Our unit was closed. Sunt lacrimae rerum – it would make you weep.

Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Jany
Professor for Biochemistry and Biology, Germany
Former director of the Centre for Molecular Biology at the Federal Research Centre for Nutrition and Food, Karlsruhe (Germany)

Allen Van Deynze, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis, United States
Comment: “It is concerning that someone who claims to be a trained medical practicioner does not have the scientific scrutiny to question the facts before publicizing them. A disservice to his audience making one question the rest of his claims.

Raman Meenakshi Sundaram, PhD, Sr. Scientist (Crop Improvement)
Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad, India

Professor Selim Cetiner, Ph. D.
Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey

Professor Vivian Moses
Emeritus Professor of Microbiology, Queen Mary College, University of London, United Kingdom

Thomas R. DeGregori, Ph.D
Professor of Economics, University of Houston, United States

Alan Conley, BVSc, MS, PhD
Professor, Department of Population Health & Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis CA United States

Alan B. Bennett, Ph.D.
Professor, University of California, Davis, United States

Robert Wager B.Sc., M.Sc.
Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo BC Canada

Alan Conley, BVSc, MS, PhD
Professor, Department of Population Health & Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis CA United States

Joe Kamalay, PhD
University of Missouri, St. Louis, United States

Dr. S.M. Balachandran
Principal Scientist (Biotechnology), Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad, India
Comment: “It is unfortunate that this sort of malicious reports are being tolerated by genuine scientifc community. As socially responsible scientists, we must join together to thwart any attempt to subvert the scientific truth about GM foods which can help feed millions of people.”

Felix M’mboyi, Ph.D.
Environmental Resources Management Centre for Sustainable Development, Nairobi, Kenya [Deputy Director],  St Paul’s University [Adjunct Senior Lecturer], Consortium for Economic Research and Development Studies, CERDS Consult [CEO], Consortium for Commercialization of GM Crops in Kenya [Member/Advisor], Kenya
Comment: “I am a Deputy Director at the Environmental Resources Management Centre for Sustainable Development and also a Chief Coordinating member of the Consortium for Commercialization of GM Crops in Kenya. Here in Africa, we have viewed Dr Oz programme as an insult to the intelligence of the scientific community. In our recent meeting in Nairobi Kenya, stakeholders from East Africa felt aggrieved by Dr Oz Programme given that biotechnology and especially GM crops give the best promise for reducing incidences of food insecurity and low productivity on our continent. In fact stakeholders from across the divide including relevant government agencies that regulate GM crops activities were of the view that Dr Oz programme would not have any significant impact on the resolve of governments in the region to embrace biotechnology for food production, income generation and reduction of poverty amongst Africans.”

Elizabeth Maga, PhD
Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, United States

Professor Eduardo Blumwald
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, United States

Jason Schneiderman Ph.D.
Fellow, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, United States
Comment: “This, like many of Dr. Oz’s reports, is a case of false balance.”

K. K. Narayanan, PhD
Metahelix Life Sciences, Bangalore, India
Comment: “Misleading the lay public about a technology which can potentially address the problems of the poor is totally irresponsible. The half-truths and patently false assertions made in the television program has to be exposed.”

J. Scott Vernon, Ph.D.
Professor of Agricultural Communication, California Polytechnic State University
Comment: “Dr. Oz should reevaluate his code of ethics.

Joseph G Dickenson BSc (Agr)
Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario, Canada

James Moller
UC Davis Animal Science

Kellie Bauman BSc, MSc, Animal Sciences
Quality Assurance, Food Safety

Mark Walton, Ph.D.
CMO, Recombinetics

Professor Vivian Moses
Emeritus Professor of Microbiology, Queen Mary, University of London


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