Alex Avery comments on another front in an ongoing war on civilization. This one is weighing weeds vs. crops. After more than fifty years of experience and 6,000 studies, the EPA has take up the attack on the food supply because of hysteria generated in the media.
Many of these articles have lionized the work of a Berkeley professor, Tyrone Hayes, who says his studies show even tiny amounts of atrazine causes mutations and gender disorders in frogs. Atrazine is occasionally found in trace amounts in drinking water – though always under the regulatory limit of 3-parts per billion. The implication, of course, is that if atrazine can mutate frogs, what is it doing to you?
The problem, however, is that no other scientist has been able to repeat Mr. Hayes’ findings.
This is a war of attrition. It is costly. Occasionally battles are lost and many die unnecessarily. A report this morning on the H1N1 vaccine indicated that part of the reason for delays was the anti-vaccine movement. There are several factors involved. One is the fact that many things in our environment are matters of risk and benefit. Herbicides, vaccines, and many other things have risks to individuals and that risk has to be weighed against the benefits provided by their use. Some cannot accept the idea that there is a risk at any level and must rationalize their fears. That results in correlations being confused with causation and in fear mongering by individuals such as Hays, and in pressure for study after study after study to seek out some evidence, any evidence, that the fears are warranted – no matter how long or expensive the search may be.
As with the 50+ year experience with atrazine, many of the substances under attack have a significant basis that can be used, even by the layman, to judge safety. Whether it is vaccines or artificial sweeteners or food additives or fertilizers or insecticides or herbicides there is a lot of experience that can be used to judge just what we get compared to just what risk is being taken. That should be a starting point for this war of attrition that seeks to wear down any opposition to irrational fears.