Thursday, July 23, 2015

American Council on Science and Health

Pollinators: No, Lancet editors, we are not going to lose all of them - Pollinators: No, Lancet editors, we are not going to lose all of them.  The Lancet, the same journal that brought the world Andrew Wakefield’s vaccine-autism link, may have done the same thing for the people who think bees are dying. They have published a paper that makes some bold statements on the relationship between pollinators and human health, and the conclusions are based on a numerical model that is, basically, impossible to make accurate.  Titled “Effects of decreases of animal pollinators on human nutrition and global health: modeling analysis”, it describes a simulation the authors created to try and tell us what would happen to human health if we lost all animal pollinators. It’s somewhat like if Joni Mitchell wrote a song about bees in 2015, and had a computer to help. Their model found, unsurprisingly, that it would have far reaching, devastating effects – at least 1 million worldwide deaths annually from this scenario. However, when you really dissect this paper, it’s more science fiction than science fact. Read more.
Junk science? Ask a lawyer - The legal system requires proof and in 2015 science is often likely to provide it, so lawyers need to know what is good science versus the junk kind. However, both scientists and lawyers must avoid pitfalls when working together. Read more.

Anti-vax movement: Harming kids since 1840 - Most people believe that Andrew Wakefield launched the anti-vaccination movement with his infamous Lancet article which described a purported relationship between vaccines and autism. However, the anti-vaccination movement is almost as old as vaccines themselves. Read more.

How genetic modification could save bananas from extinction - Did you know? A rapidly spreading disease could potentially wipe out the world’s banana supply. But genetic modification could prevent this from happening – if banana companies will embrace the technology

Alzheimer’s conference presentations show incremental progress; hope is the watchword - Preliminary reports out of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, which is happening this week in DC, give some inklings of hope against this intractable, soul-robbing disease. Without progress, millions are predicted to gradually fade away. Read more.

You Say Sugar – Whole Foods Says ‘Evaporated Cane Juice’ And Charges More - To a scientist, sugar is sugar. To Whole Foods marketing experts, some sugars are superior to others (in the minds of their customers), so if they want to sell people “evaporated cane juice” in a cookie — crystallized sugar from sugar cane, which is sugar — well, they can. Read more.

Restaurant food is often at least as unhealthy as fast food - While many people limit their fast food intake in order to keep healthy, they may not know that restaurant food can actually be even unhealthier. A new study finds that restaurant food contains more sodium and cholesterol on average than fast food. Read more.

NGOs are spreading lies about GMOs - The science community is at odds with the public on a number of key issues, but the division is largest on the safety of GMOs. One reason this gap is being exacerbated is that NGOs, who receive a high degree of public trust, are spreading lies about GMOs. Read more.

Let them eat weeds - The New York Times’ op-ed columnist Mark Bittman apparently thinks that that picking weeds from the sidewalk cracks is a solution to the huge, complex problem of feeding the hungry. The streets may be filthy, but the weeds are organic, right? Read more.

When ideology and public health mix, everyone loses - Opioid addiction is a serious problem. In the U.S. addiction has gradually changed from heroin to pills. Methadone, a drug that is effective in suppressing the urge for heroin is also used as a maintenance therapy for pill addiction. But, its use is hampered by inconsistent and illogical legal policies. Read more.

Marijuana growers need pesticides too! Pesticides are needed to control crop-destroying infestations, weeds and insects. This is as true for growing broccoli and it is for growing marijuana. The feds have approved pesticides for the former, while the latter they still consider illegal. This leaves the ill-equipped states where pot is legal to fill in the gaps. Read more.

“Study” alleges health concerns linked to fracking — but it’s the opposite of science - Another junk study attempts to scare the public about putative dangers of fracking. Despite the complete lack of scientific rigor involved in its conception and evaluation, the scaremongering got plenty of media attention — which is the point of such an inexcusable violation of the scientific method. Read more.


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