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Spend extended time reading the science press, and it’s easy to think that science is a one-note story about the amazing discoveries that happen in test tubes and laboratories. In reality, there’s a plethora of under-covered science angles, most notably the politics of research funding and science policy.
That’s why Stéphane Horel and Brian Bienkowski deserve a laurel for an article released last month by Environmental Health News, investigating a group of scientists who authored a controversial editorial. The piece under scrutiny condemned a proposed regulatory policy for endocrine disruptors. Instead of rehashing the science with a tired ‘he said, she said’ model, the EHN reporters chronicled the scientists’ financial and political affiliations-weaving a comprehensive story of the influences behind science policy.
In June, the European Commission leaked a draft document proposing a regulation of endocrine disruptors-chemicals (most famously bisphenol A, known as BPA) commonly found in consumer products including food, fragrances, and plastics, that can impact hormone regulation and production. Though endocrine disruptors have been linked in laboratory studies to cancer and chronic disease, their effects on human health is still uncertain, and the draft document announced the European Union’s intention to be the first country to regulate them specifically.
In July, the journal
Food and Chemical Toxicology published a scathing editorial, signed by 18 established scientists and journal editors, that critiqued the plan as based on a shoddy understanding of science.