The Natural Resources Defense Council environmental lobbying group has created a coalition and they have drafted a petition demanding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban eight food additives they believe are carcinogens, in the interests of public health.

The problem is that many of these are natural, which is one reason why they have never been banned. The other reason is they haven't been shown to be harmful, regardless of whether or not we have been trained by environmental lobbying groups to be scared of chemical names.

The evidence-based science community is wondering why they are pursuing this group. If it is just a PR stunt, okay, that is easy enough to understand. Invoking 'cancer-causing chemicals' in laboratory animals (an important qualification) and asking for donations is a time-honored technique. But just about every chemical, natural or otherwise, has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, so it isn't meaningful. If you ate an all-organic Thanksgiving dinner last November, 100 percent of your food contained chemicals that have been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. NRDC has long tried to create such chemophobia clusters and spread panic among the public and this latest publicity stunt may be no different.

Here is their list:

Benzophenone (also known as diphenylketone);
Ethyl acrylate;
Eugenyl methyl ether (also known as 4-allylveratrole or methyl eugenol);
Myrcene (also known as 7-methyl-3-methylene-1,6-octadiene);
Pulegone (also known as p-menth-4(8)-en-3-one);

The NRDC writes in their statement, "the law requires the FDA to prohibit the use of food additives known to cause cancer in lab animals" which is correct but irrelevant, because the FDA has already determined they are not harmful. In 1958, the Food Additives Amendment ("Delaney Clause") to the Pure Food  &  Drug Act of 1938 stated that added synthetic chemicals which are shown to be harmful must be removed, but the additives NRDC is worried about in 2015 have been in use for the last 40 years because there are no studies using good laboratory practices, using methodologies required by government regulatory bodies, showing human harm - and half of the additives they want banned are actually natural. 

Eugenyl methyl ether, which is on their list, comes from cloves. Myrcene is found in many plants, including marijuana. Pulegone is one of the flavors in peppermint and pyridine is in coffee. The NRDC rationalization for banning them is, among other logical fallacies, that California considers them carcinogens - but California thinks the same thing about vaccines so that logic isn't a template for protecting the public.

NRDC was joined in the petition by other organic food lobbying organizations, such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Center for Food Safety and Environmental Working Group. What is missing is a justification for why they think this is really protecting America.