Extent of chemophobic misinformation: Worse than we thought

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We d like to give a shout-out to Julia Seymour of the Business & Media Institute of the Virginia-based Media Research Center. Seymour recently conducted a content analysis of mainstream media (The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, CBS, and NBC news reports, among many others), identifying the scare tactics they've used to exacerbate the phobia so many people have of food-packaging chemicals specifically in her analysis, bisphenol A (BPA).

Seymour found that an outstanding majority (99 percent, over the two years she studied, 2010-2011) of media stories focused on the threat of BPA. Conversely, only two of the 87 stories discussed the research demonstrating that BPA exposure levels did not amount to a health threat for American consumers of any age. Furthermore, she found that in the past two years, BPA has consistently been labeled as a toxin, as well as a carcinogen, despite the fact that these claims were often based on small or flawed reports from researchers with an established anti-chemical bias.

Seymour s findings bring into stark relief the fact that most mainstream media outlets selectively report the most dire warnings about chemicals stories often fed to them by activist groups while giving scant attention to solid scientific evidence countering such claims. As ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross notes, We here at ACSH have had this concern for a long time, but Seymour s quantification of its extent is truly alarming.

Thanks for sticking up for science, Julia Seymour!