Environmental Working Group

Like a number of environmental non-profit groups, the Environmental Working Group has clear-cut policy goals: eliminating genetically modified foods, shifting the U.S. to energy powered by wind and sunshine, and phasing out a number of common chemicals and consumer products. The group regularly publishes research and consumer advisories that receive significant media coverage, however that research isn’t peer reviewed or required to meet the editorial standards to be published in a reputable journal. Since the research is still generally reported by journalists in the same manner that they would report on more rigorously reviewed scientific findings, it can lead the public to unnecessarily worry about the safety of common foods and products.

For instance, the Environmental Working Group annually publishes a “Guide to Sunscreens.” The report rates popularly sold sunscreens based on whether the organization believes the ingredients cause cancer or reproductive problems and rates them as low, medium, or high hazard. The report isn’t published in any journal or reviewed by other researchers, but it’s regularly covered by top media outlets despite significant criticism from dermatologists. And not a single media outlet covered the fact that every single one of the partnering companies (those that have given financial support to EWG’s sunscreen campaign) were all given the best ratings. Learn more about EWG’s sunscreen issue here.