Chemophobia

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) uses an authoritative sounding name to peddle scientific half-truths and outright fabrications. Along with Greenpeace and PETA, it is beloved by activists but detested by scientists.

Several years ago, George Mason University surveyed 937 members of the Society of Toxicology, an association of professional toxicologists. Nearly 4 out of 5 (79%) of those responding said that EWG -- as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) -- overstate the health risks of chemicals.

Despite this vote of no confidence in EWG by the scientific...

Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes another growing season. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower calorie intake; reduce risks for heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes; and protect against certain cancers.

With all these benefits, why do some consumers choose to avoid produce? Approximately three-quarters of people in the U.S. don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

A lot of factors could explain the shortfall, including fear. Media stories about topics such as GMOs and pesticides may convince some consumers that it’s not safe to eat certain fruits and vegetables. There’s no question that negative news...

Imagine going to the doctor's office. Noticeably absent are any modern tools -- laptops, DNA tests, X-ray scanners. He likes to do things the old-fashioned way. Medicine was better 100 years ago. How long would it take before you ran screaming out the door?

Yet, that's precisely the attitude the organic food and "back to nature" movements embrace.

In most things in life, we desire cutting-edge technology: Faster computers, self-driving cars, virtual reality, high-definition TV1. From telecommunications and transportation to healthcare and entertainment, we demand the very best that money can buy.

But not food. We don't want technology anywhere near that. Neanderthal know-how is perfectly fine, thanks. What is going on?

Organic Is the...

Anyone who searches long enough can find that pretty much everything has been linked to cancer. Bacon. Cell phones. Wi-fi. Looking at Ana Dolaskie. At some point the insanity has to stop. Unfortunately, we have yet to reach that point.

Variations of the headline "Nutella may cause cancer" are going viral. As usual, there is almost no support for such hysteria. According to Reuters:

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in May that palm oil generated more of a potentially carcinogenic contaminant...

There has been a long history of ridiculous fearmongering by environmental activists masquerading as health experts. BPA, MSG, Alar, DDT, and food coloring are just a handful of chemicals that fell prey to overblown fears or outright fabrications. Today, the whipping boy that takes the brunt of the unfounded chemophobic assault on science is the herbicide glyphosate.

Glyphosate is demonized primarily for one reason: Monsanto. To many of its irrational detractors, who refer to the company as "Monsatan," anything the company touches is, by definition, evil. The seed giant genetically engineered some of its crops to be resistant to glyphosate so that farmers could spray it on their fields; the crops would survive while the weeds were destroyed. It's not a perfect solution. For...

The language of science has been hijacked. Those who are looking to make a quick buck (or in the case of the organic industry, 43 billion bucks) have no qualms about twisting the definition of highly precise scientific terminology to suit their own profit-driven agendas. Misinterpreting scientists’ words is also a common tactic employed by fearmongering environmentalists and activists.

In fact, the problem of hijacked scientific terminology is so great that ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom wrote an entire book about it.

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HonestHave we gotten so stupid that we are willing to believe the toxicological and environmental gibberish that we are now hearing from Jessica Alba?

It would seem so, since the company created by the actress — who never went to college, yet has clearly earned an honorary B.P. degree (Bachelor's of Prettiness) — managed to extract $1.7 billion from suckers who were convinced that substituting one harmless detergent for another with identical properties would save both the Earth, and their skin.

Even in a world that is...

In How Natural Variations Became Environmental Crises: The Numbers Racket, we looked at how officially safe levels of exposure gradually went from conservative, to ultra-conservative, to completely ridiculous.

Even before the manipulation of numbers became commonplace, the manipulation of words was a major tool in promoting fear about science and keeping it alive. Simple words in common usage, like risk, known, similar and equivalent were given esoteric, colloquial meanings that bore little resemblance to their...

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latteIf you didn't know it, Starbucks has changed their Pumpkin Spice Latte from years past. The surprise was that they have decided to use pumpkin in a drink with pumpkin in the name, the shock is that they are only using pumpkin because of chemophobia about a natural chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI).

They didn't do it...

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 2.54.55 PMThis one had all the suspense of a Harlem Globetrotters - Washington Generals game. (1)

In what can be seen, at the very least, as an appalling lack of creativity, our old friends the EWG Environmental Washington Generals (oops, I meant Environmental Working Group) decided that since they had finally hit dry...