Podcast: Retracted hydroxychloroquine-COVID studies backlash; Obesity cancer drugs? ‘Unbiased’ Guardian takes animal rights money

hydroxychloroquine file gty jef hpmain x
Credit: ABC

Two major studies which found that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine doesn’t treat COVID-19 have been retracted. What does that mean for the drug—and the peer-review process? UK newspaper the Guardian accepted more than $800,000 to publish an anti-farming investigation, which two biologists say is filled with inaccuracies. Has the coronavirus pandemic killed the public’s interest in fad diets and junk science? Cancer drugs that target an “obesity” gene might help us stay slim without exercising or dieting.

Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP editor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

Based on the conclusions of two large studies published in the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, experts have chastised President Donald Trump and a relative handful of physicians for claiming that hydroxychoroquine could treat COVID-19. Those papers have now been retracted following revelations that they were based on possibly manipulated (or even fabricated) data.

Surgisphere, the company that supplied data for the studies, has so far refused to let independent investigators see the raw numbers.  Although other research indicates that the anti-malaria drug is still unlikely to be effective against the novel coronavirus, the retractions raise awkward questions about why the peer-review process didn’t catch obvious problems with the two studies in the first place.

Describing itself as a source of “open, honest, fearless journalism,” UK newspaper the Guardian claims it’s beholden to no “shareholders, advertisers or billionaire owners.”  Nonetheless, the paper recently ran a series of stories attacking animal agriculture, which it was paid well over $800,000 to do by a non-profit with ties to the animal rights movement. Biologists Henry Miller and Rob Wager took notice, pointing out that the stories contained blatant scientific mistakes and presented a misleading analysis of modern food production.

Related article:  A ‘wake-up call for women’: Low-fat diet rich in fruit and vegetables reduces breast cancer risk, study says

Consumer interest in “natural” cleaning products, gluten-free foods and other health and wellness fads has waned in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But as the public slowly returns to normal life, the more important question to answer is: Will this pro-science change of heart last? We may have cause to be optimistic.

Some people are naturally prone to weight gain. Others, meanwhile, stay slim no matter how little they exercise and how much they eat. A new study investigating the biological basis of this phenomenon has uncovered a gene that may have a major influence on our propensity to get fat. Because it also plays a role in cancer development, there are drugs designed to modulate it effects. Could these treatments also help obesity-prone individuals control their weight?

Subscribe to the Science Facts and Fallacies Podcast on iTunes and Spotify.

Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s senior agricultural genetics and special projects editor. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend