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Keeping it real: Food authenticity

The fear entrepreneurs are trying to scare you about cosmetics

The easiest way to get media coverage these days is to come up with some prospect—no matter how nonsensical—that is designed to scare people. After all, fear is a great motivator, right?

Amazingly, lack of credentials usually presents no problem to the aspiring fear entrepreneur. If anything, it helps draw more attention, since these con artists come across as real people, not pointy-headed scientists or evil representatives of government or industry.

How else would you explain the media's embrace of two women with absolutely no science or government affairs background, who tell us that the heavily-regulated cosmetics industry is poisoning us, and then goes on to peddle some of the most pathetic "science" we've seen in a long time?

I'm referring to Siobahn O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt, the co-authors of No More Dirty Looks, a work I call a "remarkably uninformed and sophomoric attack on the cosmetics industry" in my latest HND piece.

Apparently, O'Connor and Spunt have taken more than a page from the so-called Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, whereby facts and science are completely unimportant. Instead, the methodology is pure, unadulterated scare tactics. It's easy. Just mention the name of a chemical, and say that it has been "linked to" cancer or birth defects, or whatever.

Don't bother looking for any details on this "linkage," and above all don't mention the most fundamental tenet of toxicology—The Dose Makes the Poison.

It would be tempting to simply dismiss this bilge as unworthy of response, but the sad fact is that far too many people buy into it. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of junk science extant that can be used to support their claims. Moreover, industry is not doing nearly enough to combat this barrage.

To tip the scales a bit, I skewer a few of the duo's most egregious contentions.

Read the article.

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