Caring About Science

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 3, 2012

Contrary to popular belief, port-siders don’t come into a debate regarding scientific integrity with clean hands:

In the 1980s, America went through big scares about disappearing farm land and the pesticide Alar. The former, ostensibly caused by sprawl and erosion, was threatening to “end U.S. food exports,” as The Chicago Tribune put it. (Al Gore was worried about that, too.) Under environmentalist pressure, the EPA banned Alar because it supposedly could give kids tumors – never mind that it was no more carcinogenic than the apples it was sprayed on.

In the 1990s, Dow Corning was bankrupted by lawsuits over silicone-gel breast implants. Driven by Naderite interest groups and feminist dogma about “concepts of beauty,” the FDA had asked doctors to stop using such implants – despite the lack of any evidence that they presented a health risk. Subsequent findings for the Institute of Medicine, a federal court, and many others all failed to find any such evidence as well. This month the FDA began approving the implants again.

In recent years progressives also have raised alarms about genetically modified foods – “frankenfoods,” as critics call them – even though two studies by the National Academies of Sciences have found they present no danger.

Four years ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the FDA to ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). This past weekend, the FDA declined to do so. But several food packaging companies already have ceased using BPA out of public-relations concerns. The FDA commissioned studies from the Pacific Northwest National Lab and its owhn National Center for Toxicological Research. Both studies failed to find any potential harm from BPA exposure.

All of these cases were driven not by scientific fact, but by liberalism’s preferred narrative: Malevolent corporations endanger health and the environment and must be stopped by robust government intervention.

To be sure, there are times when the Right ignores science when it is politically convenient to do so. But for some reason, when the Left does it, we are not supposed to pay attention.

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