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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Science Reported If Scary

When the NYT can locate a scientist to support a cancer scare, they will do a feature for all to read. Next, of course, the story is heard on all the networks as gospel. Rarely will there ever appear the story of the peer review of that test that found flaws rendering the test unrealiable. That just does not fit the NYT green world view.

Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan in TCS discusses how the NYT feature on the carcingenic nature of aspartame required a retraction. She writes:

Aspartame -- those little blue packets with the trade name NutraSweet -- cause cancer! It was official!

Not so fast. Earlier this month, the European equivalent of the FDA said, "Never mind."

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the Ramazzini assertion that aspartame was a carcinogen was not supported by data, and the agency saw no need to further review the safety of aspartame or to revise current recommendations on consumption levels. There were major flaws in the laboratory research, the EFSA concluded, noting that confounding factors, including chronic inflammation in the organs of the test animals, rendered the results invalid. And this in Europe, where the precautionary principle prevails, and where other food scares have pushed regulatory agencies into a very cautious stance.

I located the retraction. Unlike the original scare piece, it did not contain the splashy photo of the smiling testing doctor in his lab coat with rats running on his shoulder. I am not sure it was carried on the first page of the science section.

4 Comments:

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