RE: “Irradiating the Mail and Food” with Dr. Orient's Reply

William J. Rea, MD
Article Type: 
Summer 2002
Volume Number: 
Issue Number: 

Dear Editor,
I was shocked and sorry that you published a biased article on how we need to irradiate food. This is another failing industry that has lived on government subsidies since its inception, looking for an outlet for their business. Common sense defies the use of radiation in our food supply. We have enough contamination in our food supply as it is. The author states that the AMA and World Health Organization supports irradiation. This in itself should be enough evidence to keep us from irradiating our foods.

William J. Rea, MD
Dallas, TX

Biased article? It was a short News Capsule quoted item, “Irradiating the Mail and Food,” Medical Sentinel 2002;7(1):5. We did publish a comprehensive scholarly article on a related subject that may be of interest. See Cohen, BL. “The cancer risk from low level radiation: a review of recent evidence.” Medical Sentinel 2000;5(4):128-131.—Editor.

Dr. Orient Replies

Dear Editor,
I find it very interesting that the very physicians who want minimal government interference in their own unusual practices still wish to deny Americans the freedom to choose irradiated food. I would like such food to be prominently labeled so that I can find it more easily. One could make the case, however, that it is nonirradiated food that should be prominently labeled — just as raw milk was back in the days when one could still find it in the supermarket.

It is hard to see that the radiated food industry has profited much from government subsidies, when essentially it does not exist in this country to any significant extent. Whatever subsidies it has received have been more than outweighed by the crushing load of oppressive and unnecessarily restrictive regulations.

These regulations are based on the Linear No-Threshold Hypothesis, extrapolating the danger of radiation exposure at high doses down to the zero-zero origin. (Of course, irradiated food does not expose the consumer to radiation in any case.) The actual evidence that we have for exposure to low doses of radiation shows it to be beneficial. The best and most massive data sets are totally inconsistent with the LNT Hypothesis. However, the health physics industry simply stonewalls on this issue because the LNT is a full-employment program for them. Or so they think — there might be greatly expanded employment opportunities if people were allowed to benefit from the science and industry that could flourish in the absence of absurd regulations and media-promoted hysteria over the radiation demon.

The AMA and the WHO also support aseptic surgery, good sanitary engineering, and accurate labeling of products. I expect that Dr. Rea does also. We should evaluate technology based on sound science, not guilt by association.

Jane M. Orient, MD
Tucson, AZ



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