For a scientifically unsound discussion about GMOs, watch Fox News Sunday Housecall

Fox_news_channel_logoIf you think you re getting accurate science from Fox News Sunday Housecall, you may want to think again. A segment they did recently, featuring hosts Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, and Dr. David Samadi, Chairman of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, discussing the genetically modified apples approved by the USDA, got it all wrong.

First of all, Dr. Samadi quickly points out a supposed link between GMOs and obesity, cancer and diabetes, a link that has neither empirical nor evidentiary basis, nor any rationale whatsoever to mention, absent either some agenda or complete ignorance of the subject. Then, the discussion veers into a conversation about strawberries the size of baseballs and salmon that has been engineered to make it more orange. The minor details they are overlooking are that GMO strawberries do not exist and GMO salmon has not been approved the FDA. Furthermore, AquaBounty s GMO salmon, which has not yet been approved, was not engineered to look more orange, but rather to accelerate growth, which would allow modified salmon to grow to conventional market size twice as fast as regular fish.

At least Drs. Siegel and Samadi seem to be in favor of using GMOs to markedly reduce the consequences of malnutrition in the Third World, such as in the case of Golden Rice. They don t quite have their facts straight on how Golden Rice is produced, though. Dr. Samadi seems to think that it s like the kind of rice that has a lot of Vitamin A in it. However, Golden Rice has actually been genetically engineered to provide beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Further, their reflection upon the reasons for the need for more vitamin A includes low levels of minerals, which sounds like something your AP Biology teacher would fail you for saying.

Then, of course, the conversation turns to labeling GMOs. As we ve said many times before, These labeling laws are not based on fact, but rather on unjustified fears that GMO foods pose some risk to health. The science does not support this claim. If a consumer really wants to make sure their food does not contain GMOs, there are other ways of doing that. Here s how these top TV medical scientists handle this complex issue:

  1. SAMADI: Bottom line we don t know the long-term effect of some of this engineering in our body and what it does once it gets into our system and I think the biggest thing is to have a label on any of these fruits and vegetables as long as people know.
  2. SIEGEL: Which they have now, which is not the law now. In other words, as of now you don t need the label, which is bad.

ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross had this comment: I guess it s understandable that Dr. Samadi, whose expertise is in robotic prostate surgery, knows next to nothing about the science of genetic engineering. But why he, or for that matter Dr. Siegel, is given a pedestal on FoxNews from which to opine to susceptible viewers on matters they are ignorant of, escapes me. I d think the Fox network can afford to get some real experts on to discuss important controversial subjects.

For scientifically sound information on GMOs and agriculture, see ACSH s publications on the subject available here. But if you want a few laughs, make sure to watch this segment.