Dancing and acting: OK; science, not so much

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It seems that Americans aren't the only ones subjected to star-power misinformation posing as public health. In a recent blog post in The Wall Street Journal, Tom Wright has highlighted the latest pseudoscientific campaign in South Asia: Well-known Bollywood actor-turned-talk-show-host Aamir Khan appears to have joined the anti-pesticide crusade, claiming that such chemicals have a spectrum of toxic and carcinogenic effects on humans. On a recent episode of his show, Truth Alone Prevails, Khan veered from the typical social issues he discusses, and instead delved into foreign territory: science.

Ostensibly attempting to bring balance to the pesticide discussion, Khan invited Dr. Rajju Shroff, who chairs one of India s largest pesticide manufacturers, to the program. But instead of emphasizing the integral role that pesticides play in feeding India s 1.2 billion (and rapidly increasing) population, Kahn disregarded Shroff s points and instead aired a video segment demonstrating the allegedly deleterious health effects including cancer associated with such chemicals.

In his critique of the episode, Wright quotes ACSH, citing us as a group that promotes scientific research when it comes to public health. As we ve continually maintained, and as Wright observes, The published scholarly literature has failed to turn up evidence of adverse human health effects from use of modern pesticides in the real world.

Perhaps before condemning pesticides, Khan should do some research. If he had, he would ve known that crop-boosting pesticides were greatly responsible for facilitating India s Green Revolution in the post-war era. Along with selective plant breeding techniques developed largely by one of ACSH s founding directors, Nobel laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, such pesticides helped to feed a starving population.