Junk Science Bullies

Through social responsibility initiatives, businesses work with community leaders to help meet the public’s needs. But activist groups often try to take advantage of these efforts to further their own agendas instead of common interests. Today Canada’s National Post highlighted "junk science" as the means through which these organizations publicly twist the arm of the private sector with over-the-top health and environmental claims that have little or no merit:

Junk science, as we’ve defined it, occurs when real science and facts are ignored, risks are exaggerated and the science is warped by politics and ideology. Over the years we’ve tackled chemical scares, smog scams, pesticide alarms, obesity overkill, climate crazies, trans fat fetishists, biotech terrors, vitamin D fears.

By hyping relatively small and (often) benign scares, groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interests (CSPI), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and many others funnel money, time, and attention away from the real problems facing communities. Here are a few of these "critical" issues — backed by questionable science — for which the food police have monopolized valuable resources to raise public awareness:

CSPI pressured the FDA to regulate labeling for some of the most basic food ingredients: salt, caffeine, garlic, and even eggs.
The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine hustled media attention over the levels of mercury in local seafood — even though those levels are laughably low.
HSUS recently published a ranking of U.S. cities according to what it called a "Humane Index," a measurement based solely on the number of meatless restaurants per capita.
Obesity warrior MeMe Roth called American Idol winner Jordin Sparks an unfit role model for youth and "a vision of unhealth" because of her size 12 figure (smaller than the dress size for the average American woman).
British obesity experts have lobbied to raise public awareness about microwave ovens by blaming them for the UK’s growing waistlines. Seriously.

 

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