Pesticides are linked to childhood cancers and lower IQ … no, wait!

The Dr. Doom of Bees, Dr. Chengsheng (Alex) Lu, is at it again. In his quest to aid environmentalists in ridding the planet of pesticides so insects can rid the Earth of humans the green’s behalf via his activist science, last week a manuscript in which Lu is the primary author was published in the journal Pediatrics. The study states that there is a high probability that indoor pesticides are linked to childhood cancers (such as leukemia and lymphoma) and lower IQ’s. The study’s conclusions were controversial enough that CNN reported the story almost as if Lu’s conclusions were gospel.

Fortunately, one watchdog group picked up the story and reviewed the manuscript’s findings. This what they reveal about Lu’s blatant flaws:

1. Meta analyses are combinations of a number of previous studies. They are retrospective — examined after the fact, rather than prospective — where a defined parameter that is determined in advance is measured. Retrospective studies are notoriously unreliable.

2. Speaking of notoriously unreliable, the data are self reported — which is a very suspect way of collecting information.

3. Although a 45 percent increase seems like a substantial number, it is not for retrospective studies. As ACSH advisor and expert biostatistician Dr. Stan Young always says: “In a retrospective study, any effect that is not at least double (100 percent increase) is meaningless.”

4. There are a number chemicals that are used as insecticides. Many of them are chemically and pharmacologically unrelated to each other. It is a fallacy to assume that any two of these substances will have similar effects upon humans simply because they both kill insects. The study does not attempt to distinguish which insecticides were associated with these cancers, rather, lumps them all together. This will necessarily compromise any conclusions that are derived from the studies.

5. Two cancers were studied. A correlation was found (maybe). How many cancers were examined where there was no correlation?

6. A similar association was found with the use of herbicides. This is scientifically absurd. The chemicals that are used to kill weeds have nothing whatsoever in common with those that kill bugs, either chemically or mechanistically. This is a huge red flag that suggests that the data are meaningless.

It should also be noted that around this time last year Lu was able to get another controversial research piece published that made a correlation that neonicotinoid pesticides were the cause of bee Colony Collapse Disorder. Lu’s pesticide study released last year caused so much controversy that many of the world’s top scientists took it upon themselves to tear apart his findings. In an essay published in The Huffington Post, Genetic Literacy Project head Jon Entine demonstrates in meticulous detail how Lu’s research does not make any link to neonicotinoid pesticides and Colony Collapse Disorder. Entine’s piece shows the Machiavellian way Lu was able to get his manuscript published which garnered so much publicity.

Environmentalists seek to commit fraud in order to have neonicotinoid pesticides banned and enlist the help of activist scientists, like Lu, to drum up evidence to make their case. This isn’t the first time this has happened and I doubt it will be the last. However, the green’s intent is clear if one understands the context of their activities with regard to pesticides and a host of other issues. Rid the planet of pesticides while scaring the public into not using them and the consequence is fewer or less effective means for people to fight off insect attacks. This, in turn, results in not only reduced crop production for farms but also increased contact humans will have with insects such as bees and hornets. The end goal is ultimately either death by starvation or death by insect attacks.

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