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Michael Pollan, food activist and journalist, is the proverbial man trapped in the past in his latest piece for the New York Times, criticizing the Obama administration for not catering to his bizarre beliefs about how food production actually works, and along the way taking the opportunity to smear...me.

And you. And about 300 scientists and doctors who help us at the American Council on Science and Health for no other reason than that they care about educating the public. To accomplish that, they don't cave into the shrill beliefs of people who self-identify with Pollan's Idyllic notions about feeding the world.

Pollan's...

With medical letters and the general health of the U.S. Presidential candidates being the big topic of discussion last week, we were all treated to analyses of issues like blood clots and BMI and other topics. Pundits on both sides suggested some concern about the medical fitness of the opposing candidate.

But, where did this interest in medical fitness come from? What's fit or unfit in 2016?  Basically, what would cause you, or the leadership of a major party, to declare a candidate not medically qualified to be President and not worthy of a vote?  

This answer is different for a physician.

Fitness is not as obvious as you might think. Doctors, me included, will automatically defer to the primary physician of a candidate as the final arbiter of medical health,...

Yesterday morning, I watched as the New York City Health Department voted unanimously to ban the use of trans-fatty acids (trans fats) in all New York City restaurants. The ban will be phased in gradually, but ultimately New York City's eateries will be trans-fat-free.

This regulatory move appears to mark the first time a health agency has taken action against safe, legal foods -- in this case, certain margarines and cooking oils -- instead of disease-causing organisms. The regulatory demonization of trans fats and the underlying "trans-fat-phobia" reveal a good deal about how the media and consumers react to a health scare, how scientists respond (or do not), and what lies ahead for other food ingredients.

Most of the trans fats in our diet are derived from man-made...

As an economic development expert, I have written about and been an advisor on disaster relief. Now that there is a major disaster close to home and very much in the news, it might be a good idea to outline some basic principles of disaster intervention. Ironically, since the effects of Hurricane Katrina are so close at hand for us in Houston, many of the established rules of intervention -- which hinge on recognizing the distinction between local knowledge and the desire by distant donors to grant assisitance -- can be violated, but it is still important to know the general rules.

Once the first phase of a disaster passes, intervention is best left to the professionals, who establish the framework for relief efforts. If citizen help is needed, those involved in relief will call...

America's pharmaceutical industry is under scrutiny and attack more than ever before. Critics have pejoratively nicknamed the industry "Big Pharma" (to associate it with "Big Tobacco"); they characterize it as uncaring, duplicitous, profit-hungry, and manipulative; they claim that the industry excels in price-gouging while at the same time delivering very few products of any real value. The resentment of the industry is palpable from my own conversations with relatives and friends (particularly elderly or infirm ones) to Congress, where advocates are demanding the legalization of drug importation from Canada and elsewhere in a desperate (and, in the long run, futile) attempt to bring drug prices down.

Perhaps nowhere does strident criticism of the...

We at ACSH never write articles about TikTok fashion celebrities or the benefits of sticking metal rods in your urethra because we have no interest in or knowledge of those topics. If you want to learn more about "People Who Stick Things Down Their Pee Hole," the fearless journalists at Vice News have the gritty details. Vice contributors will also pontificate about pesticides, though I encourage you to stay here if you want accurate information.

I mention our varying spheres of expertise because Vice recently published...

Would our deceased Presidents fare better today medically than they did in their respective eras? The answer might surprise you.

Of the thirty-eight United States’ presidents who have died, collectively, they surpassed life expectancies of their respective generations. (1) Did being in such a position of prominence afford them superior care to account for this windfall?

Unpacking their individual causes of death in parallel with medical advancement is one way to provoke greater understanding.

Being alive when we didn’t know how disease spread, sadly, sealed Washington’s fate.

Washington is a perfect example of how evolution of standard of care could have saved his life. Though well-intended, his physicians could not have known then what we...

By Geoffrey Kabat

Originally published as Kabat, Geoffrey. “Who’s Afraid of Roundup?” Issues in Science and Technology 36, no. 1 (Fall 2019): 64–73. Reprinted with permission.

In May 2019, a California jury awarded $2 billion to a husband and wife who claimed that the weed-killer Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The defendant in the suit was Bayer AG, which had recently acquired Monsanto, Roundup’s manufacturer.

Crucial in determining the judgment was Alameda County Superior Court judge Winifred Smith’s denial of a request by Bayer’s lawyers to share with the jury the US Environmental Protection Agency’s recent determination that the active ingredient in...

By treating risky behavior like a communicable disease, the public health establishment invites government to meddle in our private lives.

In the introduction to the first major American book on public health, U.S. Army surgeon John S. Billings explained the field's concerns: "Whatever can cause, or help to cause, discomfort, pain, sickness, death, vice, or crimeand whatever has a tendency to avert, destroy, or diminish such causesare matters of interest to the sanitarian; and the powers of science and the arts, great as they are, are taxed to the uttermost to afford even an approximate solution to the problems with which he is concerned."

Despite this ambitious...

1. Nature magazine covered our ranking of the good and bad science journalism sites last week, highlighting our concern that "Not only is it susceptible to the same sorts of biases that afflict regular journalism, but it is uniquely vulnerable to outrageous sensationalism”.

RealClearScience was even more blunt. “Much of science reporting is a morass of ideologically driven junk science, hyped research, or thick, technical jargon that almost no one can understand”.

2. The ...