Dr. Oz falls for the overhyped and debunked GMO corn study

A few weeks ago, Gilles-Eric Séralini and his homeopathy loving coauthor published an article in Food and Chemical Toxicology that concluded that glyphosate (known as Roundup)-resistant NK603 GMO corn, developed by Monsanto, causes severe diseases such as tumors in rats. And usual anti-science websites bought into this nonsense, including the TV medical practitioner, Dr. Oz.

It’s time to remind everyone that the Séralini study was bogus, and that Dr. Oz is also bogus. Here we go.

All about the Séralini study


That study was broadcast widely as “GMO corn cause cancer.” Give me a break.

But like I wrote here and here, the scientific and skeptical community has blasted the study. Here is just a small excerpt of the critics:

You can read my and other’s debunking of Séralini’s study in detail, but essentially the issues with the study are:

  • Poor and odd choice in statistical analysis
  • Poor and unscientific study design
  • Small study population
  • Cherry picking of data, ignoring Séralini’s own results which contradict their conclusion
  • Poor choice in animal model, because the rat type is prone to cancers
  • No dose-response study, necessary for toxicology studies

Except for a few individuals who lack scientific skills, only the anti-GMO crowd has latched onto this study. I have been unable to find any credible scientist who has accepted this study as plausible. None.

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Enter Dr. Oz


Unless, you want to stretch the meaning of “credible scientist.” Dr. Mehmet Oz, known by his TV personality as Dr. Oz, is a cardiac surgeon and host of his eponymous TV show. Dr. Oz is not very popular with the science based medicine community as a result of his pushing of alternative medicine and pseudoscience on his show. He even thinks homeopathy is worth considering.

But now, Dr. Oz decided that the Séralini’s study is not only plausible, but also showed photos of the cancerous rats on TV, as his “proof” that GMO foods are bad for humans. Instead of discussing the quality of the study and of exhibiting the critical and analytical skills of a real scientist, Dr. Oz shoots from the hip with the shock value of pictures. Did he even read the study? Did he even understand the quality of the research? Is this how he accepts new surgical techniques in his surgery practice? I hope not. In fact, the producers of Dr. Oz’s show were informed about biases of the episode.

But this was a step too far, even for the low standards of medical woo pushed by Dr. Oz. Academics Review (which bills itself as “Testing popular claims against peer-reviewed science”) published a “petition”, signed by a number of academic scientists in the field of agricultural and environmental sciences. One of the key points of the petition is:

[infobox icon=”quote-left”]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.

…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. [/infobox]

Dr. Oz has shown less and less scientific integrity in his show over the years. He has become more like Joe Mercola than like a real science based physician, and his support of this nonsensical anti-science GMO corn study indicates his lack of scientific credibility. I think he feels TV ratings and adoring fans is more important than principle. That’s all right, he now can join other physicians that have sold out to moneymaking and popularity.

I can’t wait to find out that Dr. Oz is a vaccine denialist. I guess he’s not. Though sometimes he is.

Key citations


Note: this article was originally published in November 2012. It has been updated and re-formatted, because Dr. Oz is always in the news.




The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!

64 Replies to “Dr. Oz falls for the overhyped and debunked GMO corn study”

  1. Sprague dawley rats were actually chosen to match the rats normally used by Monsanto. They were calibrated to show something, and the rest of the experiemnt was design to show differences in the effects of substances on the rats. Note : The DIFFERENCES.

    This article is BS and fudging. The experiment was well designed and documented and there was a clear statistical result showing that Bt GMO and Roundup affect biological tissues.

    1. The differences were non-statistical. They chose an animal model and a length of time that would nearly always show cancer. They ignored controls that also had cancer. They used a non-standard statistical measurement. They published their results in a low impact journal. One of the co-authors is a homeopath. Nearly every single real scientist in the world thinks this study is bogus, very similar to how real scientists stand opposed to bad global warming denialist junk science.

      All you have provided is rhetoric. My article provided point by point scientific analysis of Séralini's bad science. So have individuals with much higher levels of scientific background.

    1. You have a choice to do whatever you want. But the science absolutely does not support any issue with GMO foods. And it hasn't for 10,000 years give or take. Funny that.

    2. Diane, how would you propose they test GMO foods on humans? Keep in mind that I am not in favor of GMO foods, but mostly from a political perspective, not health. I prefer organic, local foods to large agribusiness.

    3. As do I. And that's the shit of it isn't it? The fact that there have been no studies. I mean, that is how much respect Monsanto has for you and I. THEY ARE TESTING IT as we speak!! The poor processed-food eating ppl are the lab rats right now. This rat study is the first one to be done…or at least to be publicized. Let's stop ripping it apart, and encourage scientists to do more and more studies!

    4. Even if GMO's are safe, the use of roundup is creating strong, resistant weeds that are blocking waterways in some states bc they cannot be killed. Apparently, the latest is that the stocks from this corn are so strong that they are puncturing the $15,000 tractor tires. Do you think Monsanto is helping those farmers pay to replace those tires? GM, Monsanto, and Roundup are destroying our food sources, our soils, and our seeds. There is more to this fight than simply food safety.

    5. Dianna Donnelly The only thing resistance to Roundup creates is just that, resistance. Not bigger, stronger, or faster growing. If they are blocking waterways, they would block them with or without the presence of Roundup. They can be killed the same way they always had been in the past.

  2. I have seen this posted so many places! I got tired of pointing out that there was nothing in the study about dose. The dose makes the poison! Thanks for writing it so succinctly. Now, I can just link to this post!

    1. My toxicologist hubby also said what you wrote, about the rats not being a good choice for study. But damn, those rats made a good visual. The fat one was really fat!

    2. Rats can be a good choice for a toxicology study, but it appears that the researchers specifically chose Sprague-Dawley rats that were susceptible to tumors. They were TRYING to cause tumors. These group were creating bad science.

    3. Then bring on the other studies. Monsanto is doing everything they can to keep this study down. So …. bring on the others. Use other rats!! As it is, if you offer cattle a choice between heirloom corn and gmo corn, they will eat the heirloom first. This rat study is the only study ever done bc Monsanto says there is no need. ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO BELIEVE THEM???????

    4. Cite any study to back up anything you have posted on this thread. All I seen so far is hype and conspiracy mongering. Where is a link showing the cattle preference? Is it double blind? what are the study parameters? Where is the proof the stalks are puncturing tires and how is it relevant to the so called toxicity of the plant itself?

    5. I'd like to see a study that cattle choose between heirloom and GMO corn. Because heirloom corn looks like grass. We genetically modified corn about 10,000 years ago.

      By the way, Monsanto has not done one thing about this study. It was real scientists that laughed hysterically when they saw how bad it was. The same way they laugh when Republicans try to push lame global warming denialism. Great thing about scientists, they only care about good science. This ain't good science.

    6. Kelly M. Bray look sister, that's the thing about your health, YOU have to research some of it too. A very quick google search with THOSE WORDS will show you the stories I'm talking about. Or you could keep ignoring it and mow down whateverthefuck they feed you.

    7. Dianna Donnelly I ain't your sister. That is unless your sister is butt ugly for a woman. I am a 250lb. 6'' tall electrical contractor with a degree in physics. And I understand the research far better than you. I don't look for stories, I look for valid science. Stories = anecdote = garbage. It's not my job to back up your assertions. Find one study, not story, that shows the stems are any stiffer than any other variant of corn. Then explain to how it is relevant to human health.

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