Dr. Oz Speaks Out After Top Physicians Demand His Dismissal from Columbia University
Under fire from physicians demanding his dismissal from New York’s Columbia University, Dr. Mehmet Oz is speaking out – and seemingly taking one of his critics specifically to task.
“I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves,” Oz said in a statement to PEOPLE on Friday.
“We provide multiple points of view, including mine which is offered without conflict of interest. That doesn’t sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts,” said Oz, referring to a clash with sustainable agriculture company Monsanto over his opinions on genetically modified foods.
Continued Oz, “For example, I do not claim that GMO foods are dangerous, but believe that they should be labeled like they are in most countries around the world. I will address this on the show next week.”
Last week a letter was sent by Henry Miller, a professor at Stanford University, and cosigned by nine other physicians from across the country, which accused Oz, 54, of “an egregious lack of integrity,” reports CBS. The letter was sent to Columbia University’s dean of the faculties of health, sciences and medicine and called for Oz’s dismissal from his position as professor and vice-chair of the department of surgery.
“Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine,” reads the missive, adding that the host of The Dr. Oz Show has “misled and endangered” members of the public, “which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.”
Miller is a staunch advocate of genetically modified foods and was the primary face and voice of California’s “No on Prop 37” campaign, which sought to stop a law mandating labeling on all foods in California containing GMOs (plants or animals in which the genetic material had been changed). It was a close race, but 51.4 percent of the state voted against the proposition, meaning Miller’s efforts succeeded.
Monsanto, a major manufacturer of genetically engineered seeds, donated $8.1 million to the Prop 37 opposition effort.
In an op-ed written for The New York Times in February 2014, Miller praised Monsanto’s “significant progress” in its field. Wrote one commenter on the article: “An op-ed straight from the boardroom at Monsanto.”
Columbia University, meanwhile, is standing by Oz.
After receiving the letter, the Ivy League school responded Thursday in a statement making it clear that it will not be removing Oz from his post.
Columbia “is committed to the principle of academic freedom and to upholding the faculty members’ freedom of expression for statements they make in public discussion,” said the university in a statement issued to PEOPLE.
In June 2014, Oz appeared before the U.S. Senate to testify about the marketing behind a dietary supplement known as green bean coffee extract, which was touted at the time as a “miracle” weight-loss drug.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, accused Oz of giving his viewers “false hope” in products like FBCx, Forskolin, Garcinia cambogia and raspberry ketones as viable weight-loss supplements by endorsing them on his show.
The physician insisted that his intent is to “engage viewers” with “flowery language” and that he is a “cheerleader” for the audience.
“I was pleased that the hearing today dealt with some complicated issues and had all the players present whose cooperation will be necessary to move forward in protecting the consumer,” Oz said in a statement following the hearing, going on to acknowledge that his “enthusiastic language has made the problem worse at times.”
“To not have the conversation about supplements at all, however, would be a disservice to the viewer,” he continued. “In addition to exercising an abundance of caution in discussing promising research and products in the future, I look forward to working with all those present today in finding a way to deal with the problems of weight-loss scams.”
• Reporting by CHARLOTTE TRIGGS