Drag the Report an Error bookmarklet to your toolbar Drag to toolbar!
Bug #38124 closed:unresolved

Misleading use of scientific study results

Media Outlet Logo
This bug appeared in a news report published by Mother Jones on Dec 5, 2012 by Tom Philpott. View the original news report.
Bug Type:  Error of Omission

In a post about why consumers should prefer organic food (after Dr. Oz made waves saying it wasn't critical), a meta-analysis study on neurological problems in workers occupationally exposed to pesticides was used in a context implying that eating organic food would reduce risks to similar neurological disorders. However, the result is clearly only applicable to occupationally exposed people since each of the analyzed studies had control groups not occupationally exposed that did not develop problems. The controls are thus most similar to regular consumers eating conventional food and in context this information is omitted. Relevant quote:

"For a paper released in November, UK researchers conducted a “meta-analysis” on the neurological effects of organophosphate pesticides at low levels—that is, they gathered all of the well-designed studies on the topic they could find and analyzed the combined results. They found a “significant association between low-level exposure to OPs [organophosphates] and impaired neurobehavioral function.” Specifically, they found that exposure to the pesticides reduced people’s memory and their ability to process information quickly. Organophosphates have been “largely withdrawn from use” in the last decade, EWG reports, but the Environmental Protection Agency has not seen fit to ban them, and they are still sprayed on some crops. According to EWG’s latest analysis of USDA data, they still turn up in bell peppers, green beans, kale, and collards—again, all foods that authorities like Oz rightly encourage people to eat more of. EWG recommends buying these foods organic if possible."

More here: http://www.fancybeans.com/blog/2012/12/08/your-citation-does-not-say-what-you-think-it-does/

Response

Rachael Ludwick has contacted Mother Jones

Bug History

Jan 27, 2013 2:29 pm Open Rachael Ludwick
Apr 07, 2013 9:01 am Closed: Unresolved admin

Discussion Leave a comment

Nothing to show!