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The author and readers also need to be careful in accepting the toxicology studies and standards without a similar dose of skepticism. A good article here on this website discusses this.
It’s vital to recognize that while the amounts of these chemicals that leach out of those products are very small, they are present in the same small concentrations as the active hormones in your body.
And we all know how powerful hormones are and what kinds of immense effects they can have on our bodies.
It’s also important to understand that many of these chemicals can imitate or interfere with those hormones. Just because concentrations are small does it mean they are harmless.
The author of this article misses a very obvious point. Industries are in business to make a profit. Their primary concern is with their bottom line. This fact makes any studies they conduct on the health impacts of their products suspect. If they discover that their products have a damaging effect on public health, it will hurt their bottom line. Environmental groups have a different agenda: they are trying to protect the public health, not their bottom line. They are not in business to make money. The fact that the author can’t see this critical difference boggles the mind.
/* When a company claims its products are safe, journalists are rightly skeptical. Why do alarmist claims from environmental groups get a free pass? */
Because alarmists are those ones who run and propagate their own business there – so that journalists just assume conflict of interest again. It’s not about double standards but about consistency in thinking instead.
This is a very timely article. There are especially disturbing trends that are causing significant problems related to this topic. One of the central problems is that the “studies” are not actual peer-reviewed science with complete methods and basis for reproducibility. These are often times improperly conducted trials, or implementation of generic techniques that provide false positives (well “signal” that is actually below the limit of detection).
The most egregious is the claims of detecting glyphosate, an herbicide under strong activist criticism because of its use with GE crops. They feel that they can hurt the companies and farmers by ending use of this herbicide. It has been questionably rated as a “probable carcinogen” by the IARC, despite no evidence of it being carcinogenic.
There are a number of reports claiming to find it in urine, blood, beer, wine, organic food, and dozens of popular consumer products. No methods are provided, and the amounts claimed are less than 1 part per billion (a second in 32 years). But the news calls it “Cancer Causing Herbicide in Your Food”.
Emails obtained by Stephan Niedenbach reveal Henry Rowlands (anti-GE activist) soliciting for places to detect glyphosate and his quotation was, “It does not need to be accurate, we just need to detect it.”
That line shows the problem. It does not matter if it is real, it does not matter if it is reproducible or publishable. It simply needs to be not zero.
That’s how they manufacture risk where none exists. And reporters fall for it.
I do not agree with the assumption that “Environmental and public health groups” are on the public’s side, many times they are not. The activist industry is itself an industry – and often a well-paid career choice. in my experience in agricultural science, these groups often have a reckless disregard for facts that don’t align with their world view, and are willing to fund and promote bad science and attack anyone that speaks up defend evidence-based science that conflicts with that world view.
I generally agree with the need stated here to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism when assessing risks, whenever it is reported without open attribution. (Bias and vested interest are rampant in all areas.) Point well taken.
But this gave me pause:
“Fear of radiation that vastly exceeds the actual risk, for example, fuels opposition to nuclear energy, which emits no greenhouse gases and could help in the fight against climate change.”
What? You cannot seriously dismiss that fear as being as irrational, say, as that of GMOs or vaccines.
All energy sources have known as well as unknown cost-benefit trade-offs, but surely nuclear power’s costs – Fukushima and Chernobyl come to mind – are a huge trade-off for the dubious benefit of lowering greenhouse gases. I hope the science community, not to mention society at large, doesn’t use climate change as an excuse to turn to nuclear power, especially when so many advances are being made in less dangerous alternatives to fossil fuels. And let us not forget the most overlooked/underplayed way of dealing with limited energy: reduction in use combined with energy-efficiency! Human beings will take huge risks to accommodate their need for growth rather than simply cut back.
It stunned me too when I first learned it several years ago, but it turns out that nuclear (ionizing) radiation is nowhere near the health risk we have come to accept. We know this from studying the A bomb survivors who got all sorts of high medium and low doses, and who had a lifetime increase in cancer death rate of less than 1%, and no genetic damage passed to their children. See https://aeon.co/ideas/fear-of-radiation-is-more-dangerous-than-radiation-itself
While accidents such as Fukushima and Chernobyl are horrifying, the coal industry is also responsible for massive environmental damage and destruction of health, albeit on a slower scale. I would like to see a comparison of lives lost as a direct result of these two forms of energy production, as well as the environmental cost of each. I’m inclined to think that coal may not come out as well as some might think and yet it is considered one of the safer of the non-renewable forms of energy production.