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The claims of radical food purists, promoters of natural healing, medical skeptics and conspiracy theorists carry a high cost. For an articulate delineation of some major varieties of this sort of hogwash, take a look at “‘What’s The Harm’: The Body Count of Pseudoscience” at The Skeptical Libertarian blog:

The answer is that the cost of misinformation is too large to ignore. It is real. It is devastating. It is counted in billions of dollars wasted on junk cures, in billions spent on treating preventable diseases. It is measured in lifetimes shortened, bodies crippled, eyes blinded, and children lost.

The costs of medical conspiracy theories and baseless fear-mongering are immense and ghastly. Millions upon millions of people are hurt and killed because [of] them every year. It is a veritable holocaust of ignorance. But it is a holocaust that is still happening, year after year, extinguishing countless of lives that could have been saved by good science, free markets, and sound policy.

The bogus scientific claims are often simply examples of the precautionary principle gone berserk. Medical and biotechnology that has been proven safe and effective is rejected at the urging of activists whose goals are political, or snake oil salesmen whose goals are pecuniary, while innocents are put at risk. The author(s) of the post linked above cover several areas of pseudoscience worthy of condemnation. Read the whole thing, as they say.

One special topic mentioned in the post is scaremongering related to GMOs, which have demonstrated potential to enhance agricultural productivity and nutrition. That such anti-GMO nonsense can gain any traction with the public and policymakers is a tribute to effective promotion of bad science disguised as legitimate research. The Farmer’s Daughter USA blog has a couple of recent posts on GMO safety worth reading: “Just Ignore Those 2,000+ Studies Showing GMOs are Safe!” and “1 Trillion Meals Later: The GMO Safety Debate Is Over“. From the latter:

Anti-GMO activists always refer to “scientific” studies done on animals eating genetically modified food with horrid results as proof that biotech isn’t safe. Yet, we have never encountered similar side effects or results in animal agriculture. Unlike the claims of tumors in rats, inflamed pig stomachs, or infertile sheep, animal agriculture has not encountered these problems while feeding their animals GMO feed.