EWG’s Latest Needless Victim: Shampoo

Syringe CornThe scaremongering Environmental Working Group won’t stop until we are washing ourselves with pig fat again. Even then EWG will probably claim that some pig fats cause some sort of ailment.

Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo entered into EWG’s crosshairs a few years ago – specifically a trace ingredient called quaternium-15, a preservative that releases formaldehyde that kills microorganisms (germs!) that otherwise might reproduce and grow. EWG followed its standard fear-mongering M.O., effectively claiming that we were all bathing our babies in embalming fluid and giving them cancer. And, as is typical for EWG, it was completely unscientific and out to lunch on chemical risks. It would take 40 million baby shampoo baths in a single day to reach the formaldehyde levels set by California’s notoriously overbroad Proposition 65, but EWG pressured Johnson & Johnson into removing the ingredient from all its consumer products starting this year anyway.

Let’s repeat, once more, with feeling, for EWG’s benefit: “The dose makes the poison.” EWG seems to be willfully ignorant of this, so it’s no wonder 79 percent of members of the Society of Toxicology expressing an opinion on the group found that it exaggerated chemical risks.

EWG’s campaign against Johnson & Johnson is simply part of its Reign of Error that has lasted more than two decades. And while this one was a waste of time and money, at least it probably didn’t hurt anyone. Its campaigns against vaccines and genetically improved crops, tarred as “GMOs,” may not be so lucky.

EWG contributed to the public’s unfounded fears of vaccines when a few years ago, it published a policy paper that endorsed the dangerous and false claim that vaccines cause autism. Many desperate parents have bought into this fear-peddled nonsense to the point where vaccinations are now at historic lows and epidemiologists worry about the rising rates of diseases that had nearly been eradicated by vaccinations, especially measles.

Same story for genetically improved foods (GIFs). While scientific authorities endorse the safety of improved crops, EWG continues to peddle bogus fears to get attention and funding. This is a dangerous game EWG is playing: GIFs like Golden Rice have the power to significantly combat Vitamin A deficiency in the developing world, which kills two million and causes blindness in 500,000 children each year. Profiting off bogus fears that slow or prevent its dissemination will leave EWG with blood on its hands.

The group’s rejection of GIFs is also the height of hypocrisy considering that it is willing to recognize the scientific consensus behind global warming, yet refuses to recognize the scientific consensus behind GIFs. But picking and choosing science is a key trait of third-rate organizations like EWG.

Slate magazine recently alleged that EWG has a case of “chemophobia” – the irrational fear of chemicals based on ignorance of the facts. Let’s get these activists into therapy before they can do any more damage.

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