The Conversation

The BuzzFeed-ification of Science Reporting

For years I've been writing about how science reporting has devolved into hysteria and misinformation disguised as public service.  TV reports lead with scare tactics like "Stay tuned for the killer in your kitchen cabinet!" with little regard to actual scientific evidence.  It's gotten so ridiculous that even a TV provider makes fun of them in their commercial. 

Soon we'll be seeing reports on Sharknado preparation.  Regarding the latest boogeyman, BPA, media reporting is actually in opposition to science, but the misinformation continues.

BPA is found in water bottles, canned foods and even thermal cash-register tape.  Study after study from the EPA, CDC, FDA and scores of agencies (here and here) from other countries (since BuzzFeed is more comfortable with foreign agencies) have found BPA to be safe. As with the global warming campaign, the Left and their cohorts in the media have succeeded in ignoring the science and instead ginning up a public frenzy by simply proving that global temperature changes or traces of BPA can be found in your food.

Last week the FDA, which still deems BPA safe, announced that it was banning BPA in baby formula packaging.  Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) jumped on the decision as a "victory" for families.  He failed to mention that the FDA has never said that BPA, in baby formula packaging or anything else, was anything but safe.  The Hill noted, "In banning BPA from baby formula packaging, the FDA noted that the industry had  already abandoned use of the chemical, but did not make a finding that BPA in  packaging poses health risks."

The response to the ruling is straight out of the Left's playbook on taking down businesses.  Despite the FDA's pronouncement being utterly meaningless, "consumer groups" now smell blood in the water.  More from The Hill:

Still, consumer groups hailed the action as a major milestone in the push to prohibit BPA from all food and drink packaging.

“The writing is on the wall for canned food makers,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund. “If the entire infant-formula industry was able to go BPA-free, there is no earthly reason why canned food manufacturers can’t follow suit.”

Actually, there are several very good reasons.  First, BPA is used in an epoxy lining that prevents botulism and salmonella in canned foods.  Second, they are demanding additional government intervention into businesses with no evidence that they have a reason to intervene.  Much like the EPA using regulations to dismantle businesses, those on the Left are using irrational fears of BPA to write additional regulations for all the companies that use it. 

Last month Breitbart's Ezra Dulis noted the lack of science in the BuzzFeed piece, "8 Foods That We Eat That Are Banned in Other Countries."  Dulis wrote, "It seems more that the site trusts its writers enough to give them a large degree of intellectual freedom... Unfortunately, that leads to publishing posts like these without consulting specialists for a second opinion."

Likewise, the media is spreading misinformation under the guise of safety when really they're just after ratings by stoking people's fears.  Then you have politicians like Rep. Markey using science fiction masqueraded as science to grandstand for constituents.  This certainly didn't start with BuzzFeed, but it now represents the model for a lot of reporting.

This is a good example of how bad policy results from media hysteria and political motives.  It's a perfect storm worthy of a SyFy movie.


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