My recent post about Farm Fairy Crafts1 upset a few anti-GMO activists who didn’t like me calling out a member of the $39 billion organic industry for selling products that could, by their own standards, be classified as dangerous as the ones they lambaste.
To recap, the kind folks at Farm Fairy Crafts are trying to use the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of glyphosate as a Group 2A carcinogen to scare consumers, while at the same time selling a product that contains Group 2B carcinogens. Apparently, I’ve touched off a game of Carcinogen Poker, with an irate reader pointing out (rather unkindly) that Group 2A “outranks” 2B:
Never mind that Farm Fairy Crafts and their ilk don’t really differentiate between the rankings in their cancerous arguments: simply being classified by the IARC is good enough–or bad enough in this case–for them. Never mind that the angry scholar who left the above comment fiddles with the IARC definitions to suit her own purposes. Let’s go ahead and play “Carcinogen Poker” with this incensed reader. Do you know what outranks Group 2A? Group 1.
With my best poker face, I say: “I see your glyphosate, and I raise you a bottle of Farm Fairy Breathe Easy Respiratory Relief Mister.”
The contents of this mist? Johnny, show us what’s behind door number three: 2
“Organic biodynamic grape alcohol”? Ach du lieber Gott! Why do the earthy organic types have to invent such fanciful names for common substances? Let’s call this what it is: ethanol. You know… the alcohol you get from fermented grape juice. Ever heard of wine making?
Do you know where the IARC ranks ethanol in alcoholic beverages? Group 1: substances known to cause cancer in humans.3 Oh, I can hear the objections now: “Farm Fairy Crafts isn’t suggesting you drink this carcinogenic mist, they only want you to breathe it.”
Hold your organic horses, cowboy:
Leaving no room for ambiguity, the Farm Fairy Crafts Twitter feed is loaded with tweets showing exactly how this company feels about humans breathing (or otherwise coming into contact with) chemicals that the IARC labels as carcinogenic:
Oh dear. Farm Fairy Crafts apparently suggests protective clothing and breathing apparatus are in order when handling Group 2A carcinogens. Are we to conclude then that we should not be inhaling the “more dangerous” Group 1 carcinogen in their Breathe Easy Mister? But isn’t a mister designed to help you breathe more easily supposed to be inhaled? On the Farm Fairy Twitter feed, you’ll find nearly a dozen photographs of workers wearing breathing masks, ostensibly because of the dangers of breathing glyphosate. Not a word about the hidden carcinogen in their own product. Welcome to the world of anti-GMO “logic”.
Fear mongering, games like Carcinogen Poker, and “biodynamic grape alcohol”: these are great tools for selling your own products while making those of competitors look dangerous. But when you turn the rules of woo peddlers against them and examine their own wares under the same virtual microscope, all of a sudden they’re left with the need to wear bio-hazard suits to use their own products.
When pseudoscientists play Carcinogen Poker, they’re usually dealing off the bottom of the deck, and they’re always going to be trumped by logic and science.
Farm Fairy Crafts product and tweet snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
(1) Farm Fairy Crafts Breathe Easy Respiratory Relief Mister
(2) Farm Fairy Crafts Selling Products With Caffeic Acid, a Group 2B carcinogen
(3) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112