Junk Science, the NRDC, the EPA and Eco-Terrorists
Posted: May 17, 2010 by U.S. Constitutional Free Press in American Farming, EPA, Environmentalism, Government Fraud, Government Schools, Propaganda, Truth, Uncategorized
Tags: Democrats, Eco-Nuts, eco-terrorists, environmentalism gone insane, Freedom, Government Lies, Health Care, idiocracy, Information, junk science, nrdc, stupidity, talk radio, Violence
by Robert James Bidinotto
In 1989, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a major environmental group, launched a nationwide panic over the presence on apples of alar, a chemical growth agent. On TV shows such as “60 Minutes” and “Donahue,” and in major women’s magazines, NRDC (with the aid of its expert consulting toxicologist, actress Meryl Streep) claimed that alar “might” eventually cause thousands of lifetime cancer cases due to apple consumption by preschoolers.
This carefully choreographed publicity stunt terrified parents, cost alar’s manufacturer millions, caused over $100 million in losses to apple growers—all while creating a fundraising bonanza for the NRDC.
The scare campaign was based on junk science—on experiments on laboratory rodents in which dose levels were so absurdly high that the animals were dying of simple poisoning. These tests were so shoddy that an independent panel of scientists convened by the EPA—called a Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP)—dismissed the findings as scientifically worthless.
Under political pressure to find something, however, the EPA ordered new tests on mice at dose levels that, again, were so outrageously high that 80 percent of the animals were poisoned to death. Not surprisingly, this overdosing produced the tumors the agency was looking for, and gave it the excuse to ban all use of the chemical.
I spent six months investigating this scam for a special report that appeared in the October 1990 Reader’s Digest. After its publication, many people—echoing the rock group The Who—concluded that “we won’t be fooled again” by environmentalist fear-mongers.
But now a new pesticide panic is underway. Once again, it is being incited by the NRDC, with additional litigation pressure from trial lawyers. Once again, the scare campaign rests on studies that amount to little more than “junk science.” This time, though, the target is an herbicide that plays a far more significant role in agriculture: atrazine.
Atrazine is a valuable weed-killer used to protect corn, sugar cane, and other crops. The EPA has estimated that farming without atrazine would cost corn farmers $28 an acre—the difference between getting by and going bankrupt for thousands of farms across the Midwest—and would cause sugar-cane crop losses from 10 to 40 percent. The overall cost to U.S. farmers would top $2 billion dollars annually.
Not only is atrazine effective, it is safe. The chemical has been on the market for half a century, during which time its safety has been tested to death—some 6,000 studies, here and abroad, including reviews by the World Health Organization and other international bodies.
Following a dozen years of exhaustive examination of scientific evidence about claims of possible health problems stemming from the chemical, the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs reported to Congress on February 16, 2005: “After a very careful assessment, EPA’s current view is that the available studies do not adequately demonstrate such effects. A panel of independent, external experts, the SAP, supports EPA’s position.” Concluding that cumulative risks posed “no harm that would result to the general U.S. population, infant, children or other . . . consumers,” the EPA re-registered atrazine for use in 2006.
But that was then; this is now:
* The NRDC is beating the drum to ban this critical herbicide. Last September, it released another of its junk-science reports, Atrazine: Poisoning the Well, declaring that the chemical was “linked” to all sorts of “potential” health problems and raising the specter of unsafe concentrations in ground water. This, despite the fact that the EPA safety margin, which limits atrazine concentrations in drinking water to no more than three parts per billion, is set more than one thousand times below the threshold of any health concerns. Just as it did in engineering its alar hoax, NRDC is enlisting green sympathizers in the media to help terrorize the public. For example, it supplied material to a New York Times reporter for an article under the panic-provoking title, “Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass.”
* One month after NRDC released its report, the EPA ordered that atrazine—re-registered in 2006—become subject to re-re-registration. They specifically cited the NRDC report and New York Times scare piece as their reason for doing so. This, too, echoes the case of alar, when EPA, lacking any sound evidence to ban its targeted chemical, kept demanding new tests and reviews until it finally manufactured some lame excuse to do so.
* In addition to this chemophobic cadre, personal-injury trial lawyers, led by the notorious Texas law firm of Baron & Budd, have jumped in to cash in. Attorney Stephen Tillery, operating in the litigation paradise of Madison County, Illinois, is engineering class-action lawsuits against atrazine’s manufacturer and various users. Their claims of atrazine’s “harm” rest on junk-science rodent studies already rejected by the EPA’s expert Scientific Advisory Panel.
All this has left atrazine’s beleaguered manufacturer, Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., fighting to defend its product and reputation on multiple fronts. The prospect of a ban has also left struggling farmers, who rely on this herbicide to spare their crops, worried about their financial survival. If it occurs, then an economy deep in recession would take an additional hit from crop failures and soaring food prices.
But, bad as the immediate economic costs would be, the long-term regulatory ramifications would be much worse.
To institute their green fantasies of organic agriculture and returning farmland to “nature,” the NRDC and its allies aim to make toxicology safety thresholds so stringent that no agrochemicals could past legal muster. That’s precisely why they’ve singled out atrazine. As the Wall Street Journal noted recently, “The environmental lobby also figures that if it can take down atrazine with its long record of clean health, it can get the EPA to prohibit anything.”
Seen from this perspective, the alar scare was just the opening salvo in the environmentalist barrage against man-made chemicals. Today’s atrazine scare—as Yogi Berra might put it—is “déjà vu all over again.” And Yogi might also ask those of us burdened by this unending regulatory onslaught: “How do ya like them apples?”
Robert James Bidinotto
Robert James Bidinotto is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, and lecturer who reports on cultural and political issues from the philosophic perspective of principled individualism. During the past twenty years, he has established a reputation as one of the leading opponents and critics of environmentalism.
As a former Staff Writer for Reader’s Digest, Bidinotto authored high-profile investigative pieces on environmental issues, crime, and other public controversies. His many articles, essays, columns, book and film reviews also have appeared in Success, Writer’s Digest, The Boston Herald, The American Spectator, City Journal, The Freeman, Reason, and other journals.
His writings on environmental issues include investigative articles for Reader’s Digest on global warming and the 1989 Alar scare, as well as extensive research on the ozone depletion issue. His Alar article was singled out for editorial praise by Barron’s business weekly, and by Priorities, the journal of the American Council on Science and Health. He authored a monograph, The Green Machine, and established a website, ecoNOT.com, both critically examining the environmentalist philosophy and movement. He is currently writing a book on the philosophical and mythological roots of environmentalism.
From 2005-2008, Bidinotto served as editor-in-chief of The New Individualist, the political and cultural magazine of The Atlas Society. While editor, he was a 2007 Gold Winner of Folio’s prestigious “Eddie” Award for editorial excellence, the magazine industry’s highest honor. He also has been awarded the Free Press Association’s Mencken Award for “Best Feature Story”; was named a 1989 National Magazine Award finalist for “Best Magazine Article of the Year in the Public Interest Category” by the American Society of Magazine Editors; and has received awards and honors from the National Victim Center and other victim rights organizations for his outspoken public advocacy on behalf of crime victims.
Prior to his editorship of The New Individualist, Bidinotto was editor of Organization Trends and Foundation Watch, monthly publications of the Capital Research Center—a private watchdog group that monitors the activities of nonprofit advocacy organizations and foundations.
A nationally-recognized expert on crime, Bidinotto is perhaps best known for his article “Getting Away with Murder” in the July 1988 Reader’s Digest. That investigative piece stirred a national controversy about crime and prison furlough programs during the 1988 presidential election campaign, and is widely credited with having affected the outcome of the election. He is editor of Criminal Justice? The Legal System vs. Individual Responsibility, which won enthusiastic acclaim from law enforcement professionals, and is author of Freed to Kill, a compendium of horror stories illustrating the failings of the justice system.
A popular speaker, Bidinotto has appeared on many major radio and television talk shows, including “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” CBS radio’s “Crosstalk,” CNN’s “Sonya Live,” “Geraldo,” “The Bob Grant Show,” CNBC’s “Rivera Live,” and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. With his wife and their stridently individualistic cat, he makes his home on the Chesapeake Bay, where he avidly enjoys the sights and sounds of nature. “The natural world,” he says, “is an inspiring setting and inexhaustible resource for the creative work of human beings.”
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