Dr. Oz Makes Much Ado About Innocuous GMO Pesticide

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This is the straw the broke the viewers’ back. After watching Monday’s episode of his show, I can unequivocally say that Dr. Mehmet Oz is a pseudoscience pushing, scare-tactic wielding sensationalist of the most reprehensible kind. The fear-mongering didn’t take long to begin on the episode about “The New GMO Pesticide Doctors are Warning Against.”

“The health of your brain could be a casualty”

With dramatic music in the background, Dr. Oz gave an over-simplified explanation of GMOs as being created only for pesticide-resistant traits. He lamented that because of superweeds evolving to resist regular glyphosate (the pesticide commonly known as Roundup), new pesticides are required. The question at hand in the episode was whether the EPA should approve the pesticide Enlist Duo.

Can going organic cure autism?

The first guest was the founder of Moms Across America, Zen Honeycutt. With a very dire expression she stated, “not only are GMO foods sprayed with pesticides, but non-GMO foods are as well.” She continued by implying that organic foods are pesticide-free saying, “we went not only GMO free but organic, to avoid pesticides.” This is patently false; organic farmers do, in fact, use pesticides on their crops.

Ms. Honeycutt proceeded with an obviously embellished if not totally fabricated story. She claimed that her son had been experiencing autism symptoms. Because her doctor saw no reason to test him for glyphosate levels, Honeycutt used a private lab which detected glyphosate levels “8 times higher than found anywhere in Europe urine testing.” Unfeasibly, she claimed that within six weeks of going “completely GMO-free and organic, his autism symptoms were gone and the level of glyphosate was no longer detectable.”

Make no mistakes – this is utter hogwash. There is no known cure for autism. If it were as simple as avoiding GMOs and pesticides, the affected foods would have been recalled. Furthermore, dietary treatment of autism has no basis in scientific evidence. If and when  recommended, dietary approaches are based on adjustment of vitamin and mineral levels, or avoiding allergens, never in eliminating GMO foods.

Does Enlist Duo cause cancer, Parkinson’s and other health problems?

The fear-mongering didn’t stop there. Marisa Weiss MD, President and Founder of breastcancer.org posed her main concerns:  The potential of Enlist Duo causing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Thyroid and Reproductive problems, and Parkinson’s disease. She ominously stated that “corn and soy are genetically engineered to survive these chemicals, but our children are not.”

Dr. Weiss, you either don’t understand that plants and animals are not the same, or you’re cunningly disingenuous. Here’s the deal. The mechanisms by which both glyphosate and 2, 4-D operate affect plants biological pathways, NOT human pathways.

Just a brief:  Essentially, proteins are the basic functional components of living things. Proteins serve all purposes from structure, immunity, metabolic, nutritive, enzymatic functions, and more. They are macromolecules comprised of amino acid chains (polypeptides.) The sequence of amino acids in any protein determines its 3D structure, and therefore its function. Importantly, the 3D structure determined by the amino acid sequence results in a protein, comprised of multiple structural and/or functional units called protein domains. Effectively, these various functional structures cause proteins to do what they do in any given organism.

Yet the precise manner by which this happens is quite different in different organisms. Take glyphosate. It works by affecting the shikimate metabolic pathway, which is not found in animals. Essentially, it interferes with the production of specific amino acids in the weeds, which are crucial in protein synthesis. Without these amino acids being produced, the weeds cannot produce vital proteins, and they die. Humans, on the other hand, do not synthesize these same amino acids. We consume them in our diets, and our cells use the ready-made amino acids to build our proteins. (There are other amino acids that the human body does have to synthesize, but glyphosate doesn’t affect those pathways.)

Here’s how 2, 4-D works:  It causes uninhibited cell-division in broad leaf weeds, making the leaves grow uncontrollably and literally curl over and die (very abridged yet factual explanation.) 2, 4-D is a synthetic version of a plant hormone, not a human hormone.

As I mentioned, glyphosate and 2, 4-D are the two active ingredients in Enlist Duo. While Enlist Duo itself is new to the market, both of these components have been used for decades. Although 2, 4-D is less widely-known that glyphosate, it is used in applications as common as commercial lawn care and non-GMO farming. Agriculture blogger and attorney Farmer’s Daughter USA writes,