Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy Holidays – And Celebrate Science

Terry D. Etherton

Pontifical Academy of Sciences

To all the readers of my blog, I wish you a Happy Holiday Season and the best for a wonderful New Year!  There is much to celebrate in life!  And, there also is much to celebrate in the world of science.

At this time of the year, many individuals celebrate Christmas.  Interestingly, in the spirit of religious celebration, the proceedings from a scientific symposium hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences were just published in the November, 2010 issue of New Biotechnology.  The symposium “Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development” was hosted by the Catholic Church, and held at Vatican City in May, 2009.  The “take home” message from the symposium is summarized in an Editorial published in New Biotechnology by Dr. Werner Arber – that science and scientific advances “can undoubtedly and decisively contribute to solving the growing problem of world hunger.”  What a powerful message to convey at this time of the year about the need for science, and value of science in feeding a growing world population.

The importance of science also reverberates powerfully in the message by Pope Paul VI who in referring to the tragedy of world hunger concluded his message by asking God “to direct the application of scientific research to the production of new food supplies, since one of the greatest challenges that humanity must face, together with the danger of nuclear holocaust, is the hunger of the poor of this world” (Arber, 2010).

With this, I urge you not to forget about the 1 billion individuals in the world who are hungry.  And, the need to continue innovation in science to discover and “deliver” the next generation of scientific advances that will benefit humankind in the future.

GMOs and the Dr. Oz Show – A Stampede over Science

Terry D. Etherton

On December 7, 2010, Dr. Pamela Ronald, a distinguished plant scientist at the University of California – Davis,  appeared as guest expert on the nationally-syndicated “Dr. Oz Show” to discuss the benefits of GMOs.  I had been contacted by the producer of the show to participate, however, I could not because of scheduling issues (they asked at the “last minute”).

My initial thought about the show was that it provided a great opportunity to present the facts about the efficacy and safety of GMOs to a large audience.  Unfortunately, what “played out” was way past disappointing.  There was unbelievable bias in how the segment was edited to produce the “final” version that overshadowed the sound scientific facts about GMOs.  I found it remarkable that much of what Dr. Ronald presented during the filming of the segment was edited “out” of the final version of the show!

As readers of  Terry Etherton Blog on Biotechnology appreciate, I am strong believe that science journalism should being practiced in an accurate and non-biased manner.  Unfortunately, there are many, many examples of inaccurate and deceptive scientific reporting.  The GMO segment on the Dr. Oz Show is a good example of how journalistic bias is conducted.  It is reprehensible to me that sound science was ignored and that the virtues of the scientific method were attacked on the Dr. Oz Show!

After watching the segment, and learning about what really occurred during the filming of the segment, I was compelled to write to the producer of the show to convey my disappointment in how the segment was produced.

The letter I e-mailed to the producer of the show, Rosalyn Menon, is presented below.  Dr. Ronald has already written a provocative blog on Tomorrow’s Table about her experience of appearing on the Dr. Oz Show.  It is a compelling read.

If you wish to watch the segment that was aired on the Dr. Oz Show, click here. Continue reading GMOs and the Dr. Oz Show – A Stampede over Science

GMOs and Nature – One and the Same

Terry D.Etherton

A recent post on the New York Times Freakonomics blog presented insightful information about the nonsense some in the “media” are conveying that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are “unnatural”.  The blog is a refreshing and interesting story about GMOs being natural, and that adoption of them is not going to up-heave the natural world in some mysterious manner.  Continue reading GMOs and Nature – One and the Same