I can be a bit snarky sometimes. Shocking, I know. However, sometimes that comes off as just plain mean. Or even condescending. But that certainly isn’t my intention.
I know that consumers have questions about the food they’re eating — and they have every right to ask those questions. When you don’t deal with things like GMOs everyday as part of your job, what you don’t know can be scary.
But it’s tough to be all rosy and sweet when it comes to Dr. Oz. The agriculture community has repeatedly asked the Dr. Oz show to be a part of the conversation and he, or his staff, just won’t bend to having even one farmer on his show. Not even a little.
Earlier this week, Dr. Oz did a segment on Enlist Duo “GMO pesticide” (something that doesn’t actually exist, by the way) and his segment was chock-full of half-truths, misinformation and scare tactics.
Before I go any further, you can check out the short clip below. For a longer, more detailed segment, visit Dr. Oz’s website.
As I said, there’s quite a bit of misinformation in the segment, namely the fact that Dr. Oz and his panel of experts, none of which were actual farmers, claim that GMOs haven’t actually reduced pesticide use. That, in fact, farmers are using more pesticides to control resistant weeds.
Unfortunately, either Dr. Oz is ignoring some pretty great articles that are relatively easy to find at The Genetic Literacy Project (thanks for the links, Katie Pratt!), or somehow, the correct information is getting lost in translation.
GMO crops are resistant to the most common bugs and weeds that threaten yields — that’s why farmers like them! Essentially, farmers don’t have to spray the same amount of pesticides they did before GMO crops to kill the same amount of weeds/protect the same amount of crop.
Dr. Oz also used his doctor expertise to explain chemical drift. I guess because doctors are often out applying chemicals to fields…
Anyway, Dr. Oz used a bag full of yellow feathers and a fan to illustrate just how chemicals drift from field to field when they’re applied. And he’s right, chemicals can drift, but certainly not the vast amount that he showed by blowing feathers across the stage.
To buy and apply chemicals to their fields, farmers today must attend regular classes, where they learn about how much pesticide to apply, when to apply it, and how to combat chemical drift. And, contrary to Dr. Oz’s illustration, they aren’t dumping buckets and buckets of chemicals on fields. In fact, when it comes to corn, farmers apply closer to a half gallon of herbicide per acre. To put this into perspective, that’s about 1/3 of a drop per square foot.
I’ll let that sink in…
One-third of a drop per square foot.
But that’s not the only false claim Dr. Oz laid out. He had many more, including misinformation about the amount of pesticide being used overall across the U.S. and even how organic crops are protected.
I was all prepared to jump on the Dr. Oz dog pile with a list of ways he got the story wrong, but then I realized that some of our friends already had that taken care of — and could do a much better job of explaining the problems with Dr. Oz’s information than I could:
- Katie Pratt over at the Life and Times of an Illinois Farm Girl. Katie does a great job of taking all of Dr. Oz’s false claims, correcting the information, and providing sources for her information. If you’re going to check out just one blog, make sure it’s hers.
- Amanda at The Farmer’s Daughter USA takes a closer look at Enlist Duo, how it works and why farmers use it. Excellent read.
- And don’t forget about the Illinois Corn Growers’ blog, Corn Corps. Rosalie Sanderson does a great job of pointing out and clarifying some of her own concerns with Dr. Oz’s information.
- And just for kicks, take a look at this article over at Weed Control Freaks. It outlines chemical drift, how farmers control it, and just how much chemical they’re spraying on fields. Thanks to Holly Spangler for posting this awesome blog on her Facebook page!