Chemophobia over “synthetic” versus “natural” chemicals is still so prevalent today that to make a point, the American Council on Science and Health publishes a science lover’s Thanksgiving Holiday Menu each fall. It highlights popular, common dishes and the cancer-causing chemicals each contains that have been misleadingly associated with studies resulting in a rodent fatality. For example, organic turkey contains heterocyclic amines, which are rodent carcinogens and mutagens. Free-range beef prime rib also contains this—plus benzene and psoralens, which have killed plenty of rats.
Vegetarians fare no better. Organic celery has the rodent cancer-causer caffeic acid, broccoli has allyl isothiocyanate, and potatoes have solanine, arsenic, and chaconine, along with caffeic acid and ethyl alcohol.
But the public is told chemicals are okay if those rat-killing cancer causes are natural. In reality, they are okay whether they are natural or not.
While activists still trot out new claims, which include BPA and Roundup weed killer, government scientists see through this chemophobia because they aren’t bound by political manipulation of the evidence. Consumers should be just as skeptical. When there are claims of hypothetical hazards, they should keep a simple four-word question in mind: Where are the bodies?
By now, products that truly cause cancer, like cigarettes, are well-known. Everything else is people selling you something natural.
Campbell is the president of the American Council on Science and Health, which has locations in New York City and Washington D.C. Reach him at email@example.com.
This column is being published with the permission of the American Council on Science and Health.