Science vs snake oil – the ‘natural’ dichotomy

    12 September 2022

    Non-scientific and falsely premised food fads have become the new snake oil of the modern era. Amidst an increasing disconnection from science, a new extreme ‘chemophobia’ is emerging. This chemophobia is what poses the real threat to meeting the food production and environmental challenges the planet faces over the coming decades.

    Like any other prejudice, chemophobia is a misplaced fear of modern chemistry. It is founded on ignorance instead of fact.

    This new propensity to chemophobia is reinforced in every supermarket aisle. The unregulated ‘free from’ marketing campaigns with loaded words like ‘clean’, ‘pure’, ‘natural’ and ‘no nasties’ shape unconscious choice.

    In reality there is no such thing as ‘chemical free’. All things, whether from a plant, the earth or a lab have a basis in chemistry.

    The origin of a chemical tells us nothing about its hazard or safety, efficacy or toxicity, no matter how long and scary its nomenclature.

    The roots of chemophobia run deep. We are hardwired to fear what we don’t understand. Countering it is difficult but not impossible.

    Only through better knowledge of chemistry and toxicology can we properly assess hazard in a more rational, healthier way. Then perhaps chemophobia can be replaced with an understanding of the significant benefits of chemistry in our daily lives.

    Read the full CropLinks Spring 2022 edition