Dr. Mercola Collected Comments From Experts

Many in the Scientific Community Are Opposed to Irradiation

Yes, gamma rays can kill harmful bacteria in food, but one big problem is that they kill the helpful microflora, too. Bacteria are not just agents of disease.... One need not be a Luddite to recognize the cult of nuclear idolatry.

Geoffrey Sea, Director Atomic Reclamation and Conversion Project

There are potentially serious concerns about the issues of waste disposal, engineering safety, transport of radioactive material, production of new isotopes, handling by poorly trained personnel, and others we haven't even thought of yet.

Sheldon Margen, M.D. Professor Emeritus University of California, Berkeley

I am opposed to food irradiation because it is clear that this process increases the levels of mutagens and carcinogens in the food. The inevitable consequence of this is that in two to five decades in the future, the incidence of cancer will increase from what we see now, in direct proportion to the amounts of irradiated food consumed. Thus, food irradiation becomes very expensive both in terms of human lives, as well as health care costs.

George L. Tritsch, Ph.D. Roswell Park Cancer Institute Buffalo, NY

It is distressing to me that despite all the studies, many favorable and many unfavorable, the FDA utilized only five safety studies.

I looked in detail at two of those studies. Each raises considerable question. In one, the irradiated food was obtained from some other group and we are never actually given any data to show that the food was irradiated properly or even irradiated at all.

Additionally, the authors note an increase in abnormalities in dogs at autopsy and then seem to feel that the abnormalities they found were meaningless and should be ignored. In the other study from England, in the group receiving the food irradiated most, there were increased deaths in the offspring and this is completely ignored even though the authors say there is no explanation for it.

To me, it is somewhat amazing that these are listed as two of the five studies that are considered impeccable enough to be evaluated for safety. Those studies have considerable imperfections. For the FDA to selectively choose the five is, I believe, improper for deciding safety.

Donald B. Louria, MD University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey

I am not against food irradiation. I am opposed to the hype, some of which is voiced by people who should know better and therefore appear to be deliberate falsehoods.... I and others worked very hard trying to find a useful place for irradiation during the Atoms for Peace program. Unfortunately, we were not able to find it.

Noel F. Sommer, Ph.D., Emeritus Postharvest Pathologist University of California, Davis

The large scale irradiation of food, as proposed by the industry and administration, represents the largest prospective toxicological experiment in human populations in the history of public health.

Samuel S. Epstein, MD Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, The University of Illinois at Chicago

What we do know with certainty is that irradiation causes a host of unnatural and sometimes unidentifiable chemicals to be formed within the irradiated foods, and that the number, kind, and permanence of these foreign chemical compounds depend on the food itself and the dose of radiation.

Our ignorance about these foreign compounds makes it simply a fraud to tell the public that we know irradiated foods would be safe to eat; it is dishonorable to trick people into buying irradiated foods, because such behavior is a violation of the basic human right.

John W. Gofman, MD, Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley

It has been shown repeatedly that mutagenic doses of formaldehyde are formed during irradiation of carbohydrate. Meat, although protein, also contains carbohydrates. Anyone can choose not to eat saturated fats and cholesterol, but once the food supply is supplemented with mutagens, it will take massive efforts to dislodge a well entrenched and financed industry which will deny to the end that it is responsible for the inevitable increase in neoplasia which in effect it has caused.

Furthermore, the organisms remaining in the irradiated food are by definition radiation resistant, and no work whatever has been done on what these new organisms populating the gastrointestinal tract and their progeny will do to man and the environment.

George L. Tritsch, Ph.D. Roswell Park Cancer Institute Buffalo, NY

First, since we do not know what we are seeking in the experiments, though they are designed with the best toxicological techniques available, they can not prove the safety of the irradiated food in question, but merely give us a measure of confidence that it is safe. The ultimate test will be in the human after lifetimes or generations of consumption.

Dr. Jacqueline Verrett former FDA toxicologist

These studies reviewed in the 1982 memo from the FDA were not adequate by 1982 standards, and are even less adequate by 1993 standards to evaluate the safety of any product, especially a food product such as irradiated foods.

Marcia van Gemert, Ph.D. Toxicologist and former chair of an FDA irradiation committee

Radiation is a carcinogen, mutagen, and teratogen. At doses of 100,000 rads to fruits and vegetables, the cells of the fruits and vegetables will be destroyed, but fungi, bacteria, and viruses growing on the fruits and vegetables will not all be killed or inactivated at these doses. They will be mutated, possibly leading to more virulent contaminants. Has anyone addressed this problem?

Geraldine Dettman, Ph.D. Radiation Safety Officer, Biosafety Officer, Brown University

COMMENT: Food and Water does a great job of getting the truth out about irradiation. For more information about this topic, visit their Irradiation page on their website. I would encourage anyone in Illinois interested in this issue to contact Paul at 773-907-9845. Or you can sign on to his eGroup at ILirradiation-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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