Stacy Malkan is currently co-founder and co-director of the anti-biotech group U.S. Right to Know (USRTK). She is the archetype of the “mommy blogger” opposed to science; an ill-informed crusader against all things in science, first positioning herself as an expert on makeup with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), which was created in 2002 by Environmental Working Group to raise money making unsubstantiated claims about the ingredients in cosmetic products, and now claiming to also be an expert on biology, chemistry and agriculture at USRTK.
Stacy Malkan: A Successful Career as an Anti-Science Activist
Like many anti-science activists, Malkan has made a career out of getting worked up about harmless chemicals found in everyday consumer products. Using sweeping generalizations, she alleges that these household items contain dangerous substances and should be banned in the name of public health, or at least reformulated to use products made by the corporations that fund her.
Her allegations rest on the fact that most consumer products contain trace levels of chemicals that are dangerous in extremely high doses, though nuanced points like that are left out. She instead relies on the sort of thinking homeopaths use while ignoring that “the dose makes the poison.”
Malkan used EWG’s scaremongering playbook to attack lipstick, skin cream, children’s face paint and, most recently, popular weedkillers like Roundup. Conspicuously missing from Malkan’s hyperbolic coverage of chemistry (all of it financed by corporations and activist foundations and published by politically-biased media outlets) is any serious treatment of the evidence that contradicts her beliefs, or the analyses of scientific organizations that have thoroughly debunked her claims.
With USRTK, Malkan Declares Herself An Expert On Chemistry, Biology and Agriculture
In 2012, Malkan did double duty, still claiming to be a toxicology expert while simultaneously scaremongering genetic modification and pesticides, when she served as media director for Gary Ruskin‘s failed “Yes on Prop 37” campaign to put warning labels on GMOs in California. Prop 37 would have mandated that retailers label transgenic foods, along with any food that was “processed” (which is, for example, all bread) while exempting alcohol, restaurants and the Whole Foods deli counter.
After Californians learned of the corporate malfeasance behind the effort, voters handily rejected the organic industry-written proposition, so Organic Consumers Association tapped Ruskin and Malkan to create U.S. Right to Know. She receives a substantial salary to work part-time for the group, and she cross-posts her claims on open blog sites such as Huffington Post and The Hill, gives speeches to funding organizations and generally badmouths the pro-science community.
Malkan Defends IARC’s Debunked Glyphosate Report Because It Matches Her Corporate Handler’s Agenda
Every major scientific body around the world has declared that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, is safe. The lone exception was in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which has a recent history of claiming that popular foods like coffee and sausage are carcinogenic, despite what the evidence says. In 2015, IARC labeled glyphosate “a probable human carcinogen” based on a limited review of the available evidence.
The review was widely attacked by experts shortly after it was released, and it was revealed in June 2017 that the IARC working group intentionally excluded high quality research that would have reversed its conclusion about glyphosate’s safety. Later in 2017 it was revealed that anti-glyphosate ramrod Chris Portier, who also consults for Environmental Working Group, which also pays Malkan, signed a contract with trial lawyers who wanted to sue Monsanto – before his IARC report even came out.
Despite such a shocking conflict of interest, the IARC report matches the agenda of her corporate donors, so Malkan and USRTK have staunchly defended the review, even alleging that Monsanto, the maker of Roundup and which accounts for 40 percent of glyphosate products, had somehow “pressured” one of the reviewers on the IARC panel to confess that glyphosate is safe.
Malkan conspiratorially denies the worldwide overwhelming consensus on the safety of glyphosate by claiming that “regulators relied improperly on research that was directed and manipulated by the chemical industry.” The basis for this claim is a report financed and authored by a handful of European environmentalist groups.
Citing Flawed Research: More On Malkan’s Misleading Claims About Food Safety
In her defense of organic pesticide alternatives to glyphosate, Malkan cites only eight articles, all of them small animal claims linking glyphosate to liver disease, birth defects, and reproductive problems; or studies suggesting that the herbicide may cause DNA damage in human embryonic cells. Yet none of those were good science, or sometimes science at all. Most of the citations she used were authored by discredited organic industry economist Charles Benbrook and fringe researcher Gilles-Éric Séralini, both of whom, ironically enough, are financed by activist groups and organic trade groups that have political and economic incentives to attack herbicides made by the competitors of the corporations that fund them.
The work of both researchers has been heavily criticized by mainstream scientists. Benbrook’s claims have been thoroughly debunked multiple times, and Seralini’s research has been retracted by credible science journals. In opposition to those two, a 2015 review of more than 200 studies concluded that “the available data do not show carcinogenic or mutagenic properties of glyphosate nor that glyphosate is toxic to fertility, reproduction or embryonal/fetal development in laboratory animals.”
Malkan makes no reference to these important developments, thereby misleading her readers about the opinion of experts on glyphosate’s safety, in true denier for hire fashion.