In October 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) added to the weight of evidence they care more about media attention than science by publishing a “Letter” claiming that glyphosate was detected in urine. Their media bait worked. For example, a journalist at TIME rewrote the press release and used Paul Mills, the lead author and adjunct at a California university for a quote, without bothering to use Google for five seconds and learn his degree came from Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, which teaches transcendental meditation and yoga and is not a legitimate school for anything scientific. (1)
To help TIME out with future articles, I wrote about other similarly cosmic papers by Mills they could cover (2) but that is not the point here. The point is that they dismiss conflicts of interest when the entire paper was rubbish – and that they engaged in conflicts of interest and used JAMA to sell their products are more weight of evidence they are suffering from an existential threat to their credibility.
Only recently did JAMA finally correct the record, burying it way over in one of the tabs.
There is some good news – the metrics. The letter has zero citations, so everyone saw it was nonsense. And it had only 2000 views, which means industry-funded groups like Organic Consumers Association and their poodles at US Right To Know and Russia Today read it and just about no one else. I could sneeze on my screen and get 2,000 readers.
If you click on the tab, here is how JAMA soft-pedals a CoI disclosure that would be a full-on retraction at a quality journal. Bold mine.
In the Research Letter entitled “Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults Between 1993 and 2016,”1 published in the October 24/31, 2017 issue of JAMA, the conflict of interest disclosure was incomplete. Dr Mills did not disclose that he established a citizen science crowdfunding site to raise funds for additional research that offers free glyphosate testing with a donation of $130, with tests being run by Health Research Institute (HRI) Laboratories and proceeds going to the University of California, San Diego. Dr Fagan only disclosed an affiliation with the nonprofit 501(c) (3) research organization HRI Laboratories, but not that he is founder, chairman of the board, and senior scientist of HRI Laboratories, which is conducting a citizen science research program in which individuals complete a lifestyle and diet survey, provide a urine sample, and partially cover the cost of testing of the urine sample for glyphosate ($99/sample). The Conflict of Interest Disclosure statement has been corrected online and a correction notice accompanies this letter. We apologize to readers.
It hasn’t gotten better. JAMA also recently claimed that losing money shortens lifespan and they have shown no interest in the science of endocrine disruption, instead epidemiologically scaremongering chemicals like BPAdespite numerous actual studies showing otherwise. Dr. Julianna LeMieux calls them Journal Of Alternative Medicine Atrocities.
All any reviewer had to do was Google the author names and then look at HRI and this is what they would have seen.
HRI home page.
The company does custom glyphosate testing. That is front group codespeak for ‘we will manufacture a result for you.’ And HRI was created by an anti-chemical activist. How could JAMA accept this Letter at all? How have they not retracted it, given the financial and ideological motivations of the authors?
What about the science? Even if their paper was real, and there are serious doubts now the “southern California cohort” was chosen without an agenda, it is basically an irrelevant result that only TIME readers would worry about. Independent labs that are not creating studies for authors writing articles to sell their testing services found no glyphosate in urine, but even if they did it wouldn’t matter. Glyphosate cannot harm us. It is far less toxic in all ways than something like copper sulfate, which organic farmers absolutely drench crops in, and its toxicity is only for plants.
That JAMA article should not just come with a well-hidden edit showing the conflicts six months later, it should come with a warning label that no real science was involved.
(1) Yogic flying instructor Jeffrey Smith is also an alumnus. Here he is wowing naturopaths or whatever in 1996. If you believe this picture, Maharishi has just the degree for you.
(2) To save you a click:
Beta-andrenergic receptor sensitivity in subject practicing transcendental meditation – your heart will literally be more sensitive if you close your eyes and breathe.
Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being – no comment needed.
Clinical Studies of Biofield Therapies: Summary, Methodological Challenges, and Recommendations – I wonder what kind of Kirlian photography pictures they got?
The Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative and Well-Being – bonus co-author and science legend Deepak Chopra!