September 18th, 2009 11:43 EST
Borlaug, Cell Phones, Soda, Household Cleansers
A Very Touching Gift
An anonymous donor made a donation to ACSH today in memory of our late Founding Director and good friend, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug.
ACSH`s Jeff Stier says, We re-dedicate ourselves to carry on Dr. Borlaug`s mission of promoting the responsible use of science to improve the human condition. "
Dr. Kabat Sets the Record Straight
In light of the spike in coverage of the cell phone scare, ACSH advisor and cancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Dr. Geoffrey Kabat recently weighed in on the controversial allegations that cell phones cause brain tumors. He wrote on Spiked Online: Even if there were some statistical link between phone use and cancer, that would be insufficient if there was no plausible way in which we could see how the phones might actually cause cancer...These alarmist reports by activist groups represent a parallel narrative to the much less satisfying narrative of scientific inquiry. Activist "science` focuses on results that appear to fit with one`s thesis and ignores information and comprehensive assessments of the evidence which do not. "
Report Confirms Authors` Suspicions
A study released yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine provides evidence to support imposing a tax on sugary drinks as high as one cent per ounce. ACSH staffers weren`t surprised to find out that the team of authors responsible for the bill includes New York City health commissioner Thomas Farley and Arkansas Surgeon General Joseph W. Thompson.
These people have made careers out of calling for such an approach, " says ACSH`s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. There seems to be a lot of momentum behind the ban. It`s obvious when you think about it that it`s just not going to accomplish anything in terms of solving the obesity problem. States that already have a soda tax are some of the fattest states in the nation. But I don`t think they even care about that. "
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, admits as much to the New York Times: I think we should be satisfied that soda taxes would be having a modest effect on consumption but would generate billions of dollars that could be used to mount public health campaigns. "
He has his eyes on the real prize here, " says ACSH`s Dr. Gilbert Ross. He realizes that the effect on obesity will be minimal, but he`s after the revenue from the taxes. And we`re not talking about a few pennies per bottle. We`re talking about a substantial amount of money, mostly coming from poor people. These are people who should make their own decisions about what to eat and not be taxed out of options by the government. But the idea certainly does have momentum. There seems to be a multi-pronged attack on sugary sodas. "
It`s a coordinated attack, too, " adds Stier. If industry people had organized in this way, it would have been a scandal. But when activists do it, no one even notices. Of course, there`s nothing wrong with coordinating to accomplish a goal, regardless of who does it, we just want people to realize that it is the same thing going on here that upsets people when it comes from the industry. "
A Victory for Those Who Drink Cleaning Agents
Activist groups are demanding that manufacturers of detergents, household cleansers, and furniture polish, such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and others, disclose which chemicals are contained in their products. Some in the industry have agreed to a voluntary disclosure plan, despite their reluctance to reveal the formulas for proprietary reasons.
Consumers would usually expect the industry to defend their products, " says Stier, but because the industry is now making so-called "green` products, they are no longer defending their old formulas. Consumers need to understand that just because a product isn`t being strongly defended doesn`t mean it isn`t safe. It just means that the industry has alternative products they are trying to sell by manipulating people`s unfounded fears. People also seem to be expecting new laws and lawsuits to result from this, but if you don`t think something is safe, you already have a choice. Don`t buy it. So what is the role of government when there are no proven health effects to prevent? "
That`s exactly the issue, " says Dr. Ross. There are no health effects caused by these products. It`s all based on false assertions and allegations. They are trying to find a solution for a problem that doesn`t exist. "
Dr. Whelan adds, There is also widespread evidence that the so-called "green` cleaners aren`t effective. They allow mold to grow and generally don`t get the job done. "
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