Pesticides

One of the worst junk science trends in recent years is for grocery stores and restaurants to claim that they serve "clean food." Obviously, the not-so-subtle message is that everybody else is serving poison, so to be safe, you better eat their food. It's well past time to put aside the snobbish notion that eating clean, local, organic food makes you a superior, healthier human.
A recent study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, reveals a supposed association between high pesticide exposure and fewer pregnancies, as well as fewer live births in women receiving fertility treatments.
Plants produce pesticides to keep insects and other herbivores away. When we eat fruits and vegetables, we eat those pesticides, too. In fact, nearly all of the pesticides we consume in our diet are produced by the plants themselves. 
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.
Why are strawberries, spinach, and 10 other nutritious fruits and vegetables killing us? Because of pesticides, says the clueless Environmental Working Group, whose mission is scaring you about perfectly safe and healthy food. 
Initial reports suggest that Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, was murdered with VX, a type of agent used in chemical warfare. What is it, and how does it work? VX is an organophosphate, a generic name for any molecular compound that contains carbon and phosphate (i.e., ions made of phosphorus and oxygen atoms). Organophosphates are found everywhere. Life-giving molecules like DNA are organophosphates, but so are some pesticides and nerve agents. Given the structure of VX (which includes a sulfur atom), it is more specifically a phosphonothioate. (See image on right.)
Asking hard questions is one of the true delights of being a science journalist. People's assumptions, understanding of the facts, and inherent biases should be subjected to scrutiny. Therefore, I like to think of myself as the science version of HARDtalk's Stephen Sackur -- that is, without the international name recognition and striking good looks.
There's a long history of ridiculous fearmongering -- centering on BPA, MSG, Alar, DDT to name a few -- by environmental activists masquerading as health experts. Today, the whipping boy that takes the brunt of the unfounded chemophobic assault on science is the herbicide glyphosate.
When ACSH's Alex Berezow was the editor of RealClearScience, he frequently linked to Pacific Standard's content. However, in recent months, he says the magazine as a whole has now become nearly unreadable. As its political cheerleading becomes more and more blatant, its standards for science journalism have fallen -- and that's no coincidence.
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. Here's a brief glossary of the some of the most commonly misused scientific terms. (Note: the health food and fad diet industries are among the biggest abusers.)
A new study purports to link some pesticides with obesity. Really? This sloppy study, based on both dietary and pesticide exposure while utilizing statistical manipulations and ad-hoc, exposure-intensity criteria, should be relegated to the junkpile of anti-pesticide zealotry.
It was supposedly a "big" health story. We were told by CNN.com that there's now an established link between the development of childhood cancers, primarily leukemia and lymphoma, and the use of pesticides. Sure sounds scary, but the science supporting this study's claim is suspect at best.