Science best counter to psuedo-science

Consulting soil scientist Doug Edmeades has been a long-time critic of unscientific practices among which he includes homeopathy and organics.

In a paper published in 2010 he said:

A recent major review of the scientific literature, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, includes results from 162 studies and concludes: “…… there is no evidence of a difference in the nutrient quality between organic and conventional foodstuff.” . . .

 . . . “We are not talking about the results of one experiment, we are talking about hundreds of studies and it is not the conclusion of one person or team – different groups of researchers have reached the same conclusion”.  

 “The significance of these conclusions should be far reaching” said Dr Edmeades, “because they undermine the primary purpose of the Organic Movement which has claimed for years that organically grown food is better than conventionally produced food.”

Now, in a paper to a Grasslands conference he says it’s time for evidence-based science to reclaim the moral high ground:

He says science policy makers need to exclude pseudo science if agricultural science is to be part of the solution to producing more food to for a rapidly increasing world populatrion.

”Unfortunately in this age of new age thinking, there’s a plethora of such claims,” he said. . .

He says organic farming produces at best only about 68% of the yields of conventional farming and there’s no evidence that it’s better for the environment, or that organic food is healthier.

”The organic movement is based on a falsity,” he said. ”It doesn’t have any magical properties.”

The best counter to pseudo-science is science but it costs money and takes time.

That has left a vacuum which has been filled with claims based on non-scientific claims and practices.

9 Responses to Science best counter to psuedo-science

  1. Andrei says:

    And the biggest perverters of science are GOVERNMENTS who never miss an opportunity to grow their power by using junk science to advance their agendas and fill their coffers.

    Eg the ETS

    Another example is the Smokefree Environments Act. where the science it was based on was valid but didn’t give the results required to make laws that interfere in peoples lives – so the rules of statistical analysis were changed and non conforming data dropped so the results came out in a way the politicians could use to advance their cause.

    We live in an age where retreat from rationality is the order of the day


  2. David Winter says:


    Christie’s point #4 is the most important one – we shouldn’t worry about what sticker we can place on our food so much as how we can get the best output for the smallest footprint. Conventional farming could probably pick up some ideas from organic farming, and I can’t imagine why organic farmers wouldn’t want to grow properly researched GE crops (which would reduce spraying etc, and often use genes for organic certified pesticides)


  3. homepaddock says:

    Andrei – regardless of science, it is bad manners to pollute other people’s breathing space with smoke.

    David – great link, thanks. Like you I don’t understand the reluctance to carefully use GE crops.


  4. gravedodger says:

    Everything around us in 2011 is GENETICALLY MODIFIED, whether by environmental, chemical or other “organic” yes organic, influence on generations of living, surviving and adapting.
    Edmeades has for years endured attack and obfuscation and has been largely ignored due to his challenging of ‘Fashionable’ science.
    It will be a very worthwhile time to hear him, but so many who should listen will not.


  5. JC says:

    Something I do get from organics/free range is egg yolks that look like the ones we had when we had chooks, and its nice to taste a heirloom tomato with its more tart flavour.



  6. Andrei says:

    Andrei – regardless of science, it is bad manners to pollute other people’s breathing space with smoke.

    Regardless of your views on the outcome, it is poor when the disciplines of science are perverted in order to promote any public policy.

    Next time it happens it just might be perverted in a manner which harms your well being and might even be pernicious for all in outcome.


  7. fredinthegrass says:

    Be careful when you quote Mr. Edmeades, Hp. He comes from a very narrow path, and has been questioned over many years for his bias toward artificial fertilizer.
    To say he backs all his claims with science stretches the truth. I have heard it said – unable to verify the degree of accuracy – that his close relationship to the two major fertilizer suppliers in NZ has ‘tainted’ his thinking.
    When actively farming I was well aware of considerable debate in farming circles about Mr. Edmeades and his credibility.


  8. robertguyton says:

    Three cheers for Fred!


  9. What is pseudo science? The word pseudo pertains to a false pretending or unauthentic. Science = systematic study and knowledge of natural or physical phenomena. Now I believe, that the biggest piece of “pseudo science” on our planet ever, is the “balance-sheet” theory, put forward by Justus von Liebig approx. 170 years ago and that NPK theory so permeates the thinking of the “experts” today, that they can hardly imagine the overwhelming importance of organic matter and living soil organisms.

    Yet von Liebigs balance-sheet theory has definitely been proven false (Soils USDA Yearbook of Agriculture 1957, p.7) von Liebig himself admitted it was false, before his death.

    I can understand why Dr Doug feels hostile towards organics and all things biological. It stems back to his indoctrination days of learning the balance-sheet theory, with no reference to the science of the soil or microbiology. Amazing that you can become a Doctor of Soil Science without knowing anything about the soil or soil life. Maybe its a pseudo doctorate! How can that be in this modern age of agknowledge?

    The answer is simple and steering us all straight in the face. The reason we dont see it, is that it has crept up on us , ever so slowly; sickness , it’s huge business!
    This NPK “pseudo-science” is at the very heart of the sickness industry. Force the soil out of balance by spreading artificial chemical fertiliser, which is short of minerals, kill the soil biology, and sickness will grow.

    In the rural sectors the farmers are conned into using toxic chemical fertilisers and then need to pay out for the full entourage of chemical rescue remedies to keep their product going! Over the past 30 years the veterinarian clinics have had horrendous growth and in both rural and city areas we have witnessed a huge rise in medical centres. The reason for this is pseudo science; its rampant in the medical industry and even more so in the pharmaceutical industry. Sorry! we dont do cures!
    We desperately need to start looking after ourselves and one another and the best place to start is, in the soil. Get the soil vibrant and healthy and that will pass on through to everyone and don’t forget, watch out for pseudo science!

    Merry Xmas to you all!

    John K Morris, Agrissentials


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: