For coffee drinkers in California, health warnings on their morning fix will soon be commonplace. [In May], a legal battle involving Starbucks and the Brad Barry Company was brought to a close. Unfortunately, coffee regulation in California is the latest example of pseudoscience influencing public policy.
Despite claims by organizations like the IARC [International Agency for Research on Cancer] to “disseminate scientific information,” they do not hold themselves to the scientific standards. After the release of a 2015 report on glyphosate, the IARC’s methods have been highly criticized. The published report categorized glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” This conclusion was surprising since other agencies such as the EPA and WHO had done assessments of glyphosate and none of them had found it to be harmful. After investigating, Reuters discovered that any study that found glyphosate to be safe was edited out of the IARC’s report. However, when pressed for information, the IARC would not disclose the reasoning behind the edits.
The problem with organizations such as the IARC claiming scientific expertise is that their pseudo-scientific studies are not held to the same standards as any other reports. However, this does not prevent them from impacting policies. These policies are perceived to be rooted in science and in the defense of public safety. In reality, they are based on contentious studies and a lack of scientific consensus.
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