In the past, you may have seen various 'we detected X in urine' papers endorsed by suspect names like homeopathy believer Phil Landrigan and endorsed by organic industry apologist Chuck Benbrook.

What do such claims even mean? In science, nothing. We can detect anything in anything now, but groups like Heartland Health Research Alliance Ltd are prized by litigators who sue "at the drop of a rat" and need any detection in humans - bonus points if they can claim pregnant women - of any chemical that can kill a mouse at 10,000 times a real-world dose. Any reason to send a teary press release sent to the New York Times.(1)

Plants are not people but journalists and allies in trial lawyer front groups exploit the language of science - which rules nothing out as impossible - and just want the chance to issue an emotional plea to a jury and hope for a headline-getting award, even though they know that on appeal, science matters and it will all be thrown out.

Yet sometimes emotional appeals are just putting a target on your back.  Heartland Health Research Alliance Ltd recently bragged that they earned some unknown 'highest seal of approval' from Guidestar, one of the many nonprofit rating services out there.  

I see through mumbo-jumbo that legal front groups write to I went to Guidestar to see their super special rating and...nothing. They are claiming to be transparent, okay, that is actually required by law, but here is the weird thing.

They make no money.

Yet their staff page has seven people.

How noble. They all work for free. Except that is not how the world works. You can claim to be a volunteer but life costs money. Their volunteer lawyer, for example, works for a legal group who sues every company they can.

Their radio host is an organic industry public relations expert. Their 'Director of Policy' is another organic industry expert, touted by the University of California San Francisco, who were controversially exposed after colluding with fellow organic industry (and long-time vaccine deniers) US Right To Know to attack publicly-funded scientists at American universities.

Russell King has 20 years experience raising money for nonprofits, included a mystery "international science organization", yet is the leader of HHRA despite not raising a single penny for them?

Something is very weird about that. They have all those people in their group, they raise even less money than us, and yet somehow organic-industry luminaries like Chuck Benbrook, whom the science world knows won't even answer an email without a promise of money attached, runs around talking about their important work. Which is one paper. From 2020. And used no legitimate scientific method.

The actual Guidestar page says they know basically nothing about HHRA.

Maybe this special rating the group got was because they paid some fee. That makes more sense than believing that pregnant women turn into plants and that homeopathic amounts of some weedkiller cross the placental barrier and invoke epigenetic magic and will cause a child to have lower grades in school 10 years from now.

Which are all claims made by organic-industry front groups.


(1) How do they get away with exploiting journalists when scientists see through it immediately? In the past, I have written about the well-established methodology they use; they first recruit a prominent allied scholar to be the lead author of a paper whose results are determined in advance. Then they recruit others to write papers citing the first while the first is in editorial at a journal. Once papers cite the original journal article, even if it is in some pay-to-publish predatory outlet, a press release goes out claiming "emerging evidence." If the journalist was trained at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute or some other place where the organic industry has a strong foothold, they got told 'science is a corporate conspiracy' narratives are the road to a Pulitzer Prize, if they try long enough, and will go after the product.