Hit & Run

Bee Apocalypse Science Scandal Update and An Apparent Threat of Legal Action

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Bee Apocalypse
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Earlier today, I put up a post - "Bee Apocalypse Science Scandal? Did Scientists 'Fix Evidence' To Ban Neonic Pesticides?" I cited an article in the Times about what is being alleged and asked if some one could supply me with a link to the actual document that outlines how the activist scientists supposedly orchestrated getting a predetermined conclusion that neonic pesticides are bad published in a prominent peer-reviewed journal.

As it happens, European risk communications specialist David Zaruk, who blogs as the Risk-Monger, has a nice analysis of what happened and he provides a link to the relevant confidential note. In his analysis, "IUCN's Anti-Neonic Pesticide Task Force: An exposé into activist science," Zaruk reports:

The Risk-Monger recently came across a strategy document carelessly left on-line by activist scientists that lies at the heart of the founding of the IUCN Taskforce on Systemic Pesticides. The Addendum to this document (see page 3) spells out a rather distasteful anti-neonicotinoid campaign strategy lacking in scientific integrity. The process has been tried and tested before by activists, but their behaviour has never been so clearly articulated in writing. I thought this document should be shared so we know the type of people are standing behind the "science" defending the bees.

How did this story unfold?

  • Under the auspices of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a group of activists map out a four-year campaign strategy to attack the pesticide industry and seek the banning of neonicotinoids.
  • The idea is to collect like-minded researchers, get funding to set up a task-force to attack neonics using the IUCN as a base with WWF (or some other NGO) doing the lobbying.
  • Once funding is in place for the campaign organisation, start the research, write a main high-impact report and get a few other articles published (find some big names to use).
  • On that basis, organise a broader campaign (with the support of several high-impact PR specialists) to promote their anti-neonic publication.
  • Brace for reactions and blowback from other scientists and industry.

One little issue to note: no credible scientist starts with a campaign strategy and then conjures up some evidence as an afterthought to fit his or her activist agenda. That is not science! It is lacking in integrity and detrimental to the reputation of researchers the world over, which this band of activists were quite happy to decimate for a chance to play politics.

They were also more successful than they would have ever have imagined, getting neonics banned in the EU 16 months ahead of their strategic plan.

Zaruk's exposé has evidently not been much appreciated by those criticized and apparently has provoked the threat of a lawsuit demanding an apology. The strange part is that the scientist who is threatening the lawsuit was apparently not mentioned by Zaruk. Very thin-skinned indeed.

Zaruk's entire analysis of the sorry episode is well worth your time.

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