From the January 2006 Idaho Observer:

Becoming a discerning consumer

by Ingri Cassel


After reading the following January 5, 2006 press release from the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) in the UK (, I was curious about exactly "who" was on the board and directed the activities of Sense About Science. Going to the website I discovered the site’s January 3, 2006 press release on "Detox" entitled "Scientists say: drop ‘detox’: have a glass of tap water and get an early night." The entire release is more about quoting their experts debunking herbal remedies and detoxification regimens than it is about real science.

To view Sense About Science’s entire release, go to

ANH Press Release

January 5, 2006:

Detoxing: Who says it’s a waste

of time and money?

 Sense About Science, an independent charitable trust which claims to respond to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, has made a full frontal assault on detox diets and food supplements. 

In a release made today, the trust says that following a detox plan is a waste of time and money and that many supplements do not have any effect and the body can recover from Christmas excess on its own.

 The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), an independent pan-European and international alliance of scientists, doctors, practitioners, consumers and innovative natural products companies, believes that far from clarifying the issue, Sense About Science’s release on this matter will confuse consumers even more.

 Dr Robert Verkerk, Executive and Scientific Director of the ANH, said, "Broad brush generalisations are a recipe for public confusion. What Sense About Science should have said is, in accordance with their own stated remit, that there are a wide range of products available that claim to support the body’s excretion of toxins. Some are supported by very solid scientific claims, while others are not. Consumers who have concerns over their accumulated burden of chemicals, wish to lose weight or support liver or immune function should look to the scientific substantiation given by the manufacturer when making decisions on which product to buy. Sense About Science is utterly misinformed if it thinks there is limited or no scientific evidence showing that particular natural products are able to promote particular metabolic processes that accelerate detoxification or excretion. There is convincing literature showing the effectiveness of specific herbs and forms of fibre."


In an ideal world, a nutritionally-sound body will have a fully functioning detoxification system with gut, liver, other organs and cells "capable of clearing out harmful substances." However, in the modern, industrialised world this is not always the case, hence the high rate of cancer which, scientists agree, has been shown to be caused in over 80 percent of cases by environmental rather than genetic factors.  

Inappropriate dietary habits and lifestyle, exposure to pollutants, lack of exercise and high stress contribute to a sub-optimal metabolism that is further impacted by the excesses of the festive season. The assertion made by Sense About Science that all one needs is tap water and a good night’s sleep to feel refreshed, furthers potential consumer confusion, and dramatically over-simplifies the lifestyle reform that is fundamental to reducing risks of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease that are currently overburdening the healthcare system. Apart from the fact that the chlorine in tap water gives rise to undesirable compounds when mixed with organic materials in the gut, it can also contain various salts of heavy metals, aluminium salts and fluoride in some areas of the UK.  

The ANH is particularly surprised at the reference by Sense About Science to the benefit of tap water, despite a considerable body of scientific evidence of the potential harmfulness of chlorine, chlorine by-products and other contaminants in tap water. For example, a Johns Hopkins study on 285,631 Norwegian births between 1993-1998 showed a clear association between the presence of chlorine and various by-products and an increase in the rate of birth defects. Additionally, several other epidemiologic studies have indicated that there may be a risk of cancer from ingestion of chlorinated tap water. Other studies have shown that chlorine in tap water may reduce sperm counts.

The ANH supports the view of most health authorities that every adult should consume at least two litres of water each day, but argues that this water should be of a known purity to minimise risk of contamination. 

The ANH, within its stated remit of "good science and good law," would urge consumers to survey the wealth of available scientific literature on detoxing, before swallowing, hook, line and sinker what Sense About Science would have us believe.

 Dr Verkerk added: "Perhaps Sense About Science might wish to consider researching the effect of their press release on people’s New Year resolutions. It’s quite possible that people who had fully intended to kick off the year with a detox and improved diet might now be put off. I feel it is somewhat ironic that this release has been received on the day Dr Gillian McKeith goes to air to discuss her New Year Detox at 8 p.m. tonight [January 5, 2006] on Channel 4." [end ANH press release]

There are scores of "independent charitable trusts" like Sense About Science that are continually being quoted in articles by the mainstream press as having truthful information on matters relating to healthcare, science and our environment. It is wise to spend time investigating their sources of funding to discern these information outlets true agenda before accepting their reports in newspaper articles as having anything to do with providing accurate information to the unwary consumer.

So Who and What is Sense About Science?

According to its January 3, 2006 press release on Detox, "Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust (registered charity no. 1101114) that works to ensure evidence is central to public discussions about science and medicine. Chemical scientists’ criticism of the detox industry is part of a 16-page report from a working group and wider consultation, to be published on January 26, 2006. The report challenges six major misconceptions about chemicals that pervade the lifestyle market and commentary (the latter having grown exponentially in the last decade, through Internet, product & retailers’ literature, men’s/women’s/family health, and food commentary.) The full report will be launched at a meeting at the end of January between chemical scientists and lifestyle commentators—the first of its kind—aimed at addressing the growing disconnection between the two.

"Tracey Brown, Director of Sense About Science, said, ‘We were surprised to find such strength of feeling about the detox industry among scientists. The criticisms were unanimous across our working group, and were echoed by other scientists and clinicians that we consulted about our forthcoming lifestyle and chemicals report. So we encouraged scientists to present these views early in the New Year, when interest in detox is at its height, in advance of the report publication later in the month.’"

After reading their press release, I was determined to find out more about this "charitable trust" Sense About Science. A simple Google search on the Internet brought me to another non-profit group, GM Watch, a news and research service that reports on genetically modified food and crops through a newsletter and on its extensive website The website has a full six pages on Sense About Science with several links to more verifiable details about this organization’s board of directors, funding sources and other revealing information.

Checking the source

Sense About Science began to promote its "pro-GM crops" view to parliamentarians and the media soon after registering the website domain name in March, 2002. While acknowledging that its funding sources are from corporations and "learned societies," its not mentioned exactly "who" funds the operation. GM Watch reveals the following sources of funding: The Assoc. of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, Mr. M. Livermore (a biotech PR consultant who formerly worked for DuPont and has links to Scientific Alliance and International Policy Network), the "life sciences" company Amersham Biosciences, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, GlaxoSmithKline, the biopharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Oxford GlycoSciences, and other organizations that reflect a "larger" agenda of expanding their marketplace worldwide through the use of GM crops that are dependent on their chemicals, creating a sick population dependent on their vaccines and drugs.

The interconnections between these industry front people and UK parliamentary committees mirrors what we observe regularly in the U.S.

Sense About Science Director Tracey Brown, and members Fiona Fox and Tony Gilland (and others) also are part of "Living Marxism," a political network and publication. They appear to stop at nothing to move their agenda forward, even creating GM crop "terrorist" events such as staged bomb threats and alleged GM crop burning to gain government sympathy and protection for their mad GM science capers. The Living Marxists even ran a series of pro-GM articles in The London Times that cited GM terror events that "did not occur" and likened anti-GM activists to radical animal rights activists. One article by the Sense About Science Chairman Lord Taverne was titled "When crops burn, the truth goes up in smoke."

THE lesson

The entire six pages on the GM Watch website reads like a detective novel and illustrates just how much we simply "don’t know" about seemingly benign sources of information. We are frequently inundated with such seemingly important articles citing credible sources that are really no more than elaborate propaganda schemes designed to protect university and government research and corporate assets.

The Sense About Science story is just one example showing why it is important to be discerning and question the veracity of the information in various articles one reads. So the next time you pick up a mainstream newspaper or magazine, just remember that "their truth" may be pure fiction.

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