Hi, Steve Barwick here, for TheSilverEdge.com...
Would you like to see a case study demonstrating how raw propaganda against antimicrobial silver gets started, and then spreads like wildfire until it's exaggerated all out of proportion in virtually every news source its reported in?
Here's a great example: An August 24, 2013 news article by the website Disclose.tv discusses a new study titled "Detection of Engineered Silver Nanoparticle Contamination in Pears."
The article paraphrases the study as claiming that that "farmers have used silver nanoparticles as a pesticide because of their capability to suppress the growth of harmful organisms."
What's more, according to the article, these evil silver nanoparticles are now in a position to penetrate through the skin of food crops and end up in your body where they could potentially wreak havoc and cause untold damage to your health and well-being.
What's fascinating to me is that the tagline for the Disclose.tv website is "Truth Revealed." In other words, they set themselves up as the place to come for "truth."
But are their contentions about silver nanoparticles truthful? Or are they speculative, sensationalistic and hyperbolic? Worse yet, are they purely propagandistic?
I'll leave the answers to those questions up to you as we examine the article, key paragraph by key paragraph, below. And I'll give my humble layman's opinions as we examine what they have to say.
The text from the Disclose.tv news article will be in italics, below, and will be indented, so you can easily identify it. And my admittedly opinionated comments will follow each indented section in regular type.
So here's what Disclose.tv wrote, and what I have to say about it:
August 24, 2013 – Over the last few years, the use of nanomaterials for water treatment, food packaging, pesticides, cosmetics and other industries has increased. For example, farmers have used silver nanoparticles as a pesticide because of their capability to suppress the growth of harmful organisms.
This is just the first half of their very first paragraph. Note that it very cleverly mixes two different topics, i.e., the "use of nanomaterials" for a wide variety of commercial purposes, and the use of "silver nanoparticles as a pesticide."
As you can clearly see, the juxtaposition of these two claims is designed to leave the distinct impression in the minds of their readers that the use of silver nanoparticles has increased over the past few years.
But what's the truth? It is this:
While the use of "nanomaterials" may indeed have increased over the last few years (there are approximately 286 known commercial "nanomaterials" other than silver, according to this website), in that very same time-frame the use of silver nanoparticles in commercial applications has actually dramatically decreased.
That's because the EPA was sued back in 2008 by a handful of radical, anti-silver environmental groups who demanded the agency's archaic FIFRA (i.e., Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act) regulations be used against manufacturers who were incorporating silver nanoparticles into a variety of consumer products.
And after being sued, the EPA caved in, making it mandatory for U.S. companies to "register" any product containing silver nanoparticles if it's being advertised for its antimicrobial purposes.
And to add insult to injury, the EPA began laying huge fines, often to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars against companies who had failed to register their commercial nanosilver products.
As a result, most U.S. manufacturers either quit making products that contained antimicrobial silver, or quit selling those products in the U.S. See here, here, here, here and here to get an idea of the scorched earth campaign the EPA conducted against companies that were selling consumer goods infused with silver nanoparticles.
Finally, as I detailed in my previous article titled, "How Environmentalists Are Destroying the Market for Antimicrobial Silver," the EPA then instituted a staggering and costly array of environmental studies all manufacturers of commercial nanosilver products must conduct – at their own expenses – in order to bring to market a nanosilver-related product.
This includes toxicity studies such as fish toxicity, bird toxicity, algal toxicity, human toxicity, inhalation toxicity, dermal toxicity, repeated dose toxicity, environmental toxicity, genetic toxicity as well as "environmental fate" toxicity tests and a host of other studies too numerous to mention here, but which you can read about in detail in my above-linked article.
The bottom line is ever since the environmentalists sued the EPA over nanosilver in 2008, the EPA has instituted stringent new regulatory policies that have virtually choked off the manufacture of consumer goods containing silver nanoparticles.
No Documentation for Groundless Claims
So the implication that silver nanoparticles are so ubiquitous throughout the environment that they're now working their way into fruits and veggies is absolutely groundless.
And if you'll look closely, you see that no documentation or reference whatsoever is given for the claim that farmers are using silver nanoparticles on their crops as a "pesticide." The contention is just stated as "truth," without any corroborating detail.
And of course, this leaves the distinct impression that farmers everywhere are drenching their crops in silver nanoparticles in an effort to stop the proliferation of pests. But once again, what's the actual truth?
Studied, But Not Yet Approved
Nanosilver use in agriculture food crops is indeed being studied, because the toxic chemicals used to eradicate pathogens harmful to crop growth are becoming less and less effective, yet their toxicity to the environment remains high.
But it is not yet lawful to use nanosilver on crops. It is merely in the "study" stage. See, for example, the 2011 USDA study proposal at this link, titled "Silver Nanoparticles as Pesticide for Agricultural Applications."
So the very premise of the article, which is apparently also the premise of the study being discussed (see abstract here) is quite erroneous at face value.
So, how is Disclose.tv doing so far, in terms of revealing the "truth"?
Keep in mind, this is only the first half of the very first paragraph of their news article. And the way I see it, they've already made two statements that leave a decidedly false picture in the minds of their readers. But if you think they're not doing so good in the truth department, wait until you see the rest of their claims and contentions.
Here's the second half of their first paragraph:
However, a growing concern is that these particles could pose a potential health risk to humans and the environment. In a new study, researchers at the University of Missouri have developed a reliable method for detecting silver nanoparticles in fresh produce and other food products.
Note once again the clever juxtaposition of two different topics. First, the claim that there's "growing concern" that silver particles "could pose a potential health risk to humans and the environment."
Then we're treated to the fact that University of Missouri researchers have developed a "reliable method for detecting silver nanoparticles in fresh produce and other food products."
Once again, the reader is very cleverly led to believe that the use of silver nanoparticles either in agriculture or by manufacturers of consumer products is so widespread that fresh produce and other food products are being contaminated, which in turn, it is inferred, could harm humans as well as the environment.
But notice there is still not a single shred of evidence or documentation presented for any of these speculative and sensationalistic contentions. They're just skillfully strung together to make the reader conclude there's a serious problem.
Let's move on to the next key paragraph of the Disclose.tv news article. Remember, this is being set forth at "truth" to their readers…
"More than 1,000 products on the market are nanotechnology-based products," said Mengshi Lin, associate professor of food science in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "This is a concern because we do not know the toxicity of the nanoparticles. Our goal is to detect, identify and quantify these nanoparticles in food and food products and study their toxicity as soon as possible."
Now the Disclose.tv news article quotes an "associate professor of food science" as breathlessly claiming there are "more than 1,000 nanotechnology-based products," on the market. And that "we do not know the toxicity of nanoparticles."
He then states, with equal urgency, that the goal of their research is to "detect, identify and quantify these nanoparticles in food products," and additionally, to "study their toxicity as soon as possible."
A very worthy endeavor, I think you'll agree! And this might be the most truthful statement in the entire news article. You see, that's because researchers really don't know if nanoparticles are toxic. They're just guessing.
Indeed, environmental researchers have been looking for toxicity in nanomaterials for the last ten years or longer, and they still can't find any, though they've written innumerable sensationalistic articles and press releases claiming these materials are "potentially toxic" or "may be toxic."
But once again, the way this article is so cleverly written, the readers is left with the distinct impression that nanoparticle toxicity is a given fact, and that silver nanoparticles are the main culprit. However, the reality is far from it.
Here's the truth: According to Dr. Alan G.B. Lansdown, author of the definitive textbook for doctors, Silver in Healthcare: Its Antimicrobial Efficacy and Safety in Use, "...there is very little substantive evidence that silver acts either as a cumulative poison in the human body like lead and mercury, or that it reaches toxic levels in any tissue."
Indeed, to date, there's no reliable scientific or medical data that anyone's ever been harmed by the use of nanosilver or any other kind of nanomaterials in any commercial products.
It's also important to understand that "nanoparticles" or "nanomaterials" are nothing new, and they're not always man-made. Indeed, humans have been exposed to nanomaterials since the dawn of time, because nature is quite literally the most prolific producer of nanomaterials in the universe).
Here's a quote from an article titled "Natural Nanomaterials – They Are Everywhere," on Nanowerk.com: "Naturally occurring nanomaterials can be found everywhere in nature (fullerenes and graphene even have been discovered in space) and only with recent advances in instrumentation and metrology equipment are researchers beginning to locate, isolate, characterize and classify the vast range of their structural and chemical varieties."
In other words, we touch nanomaterials, drink nanomaterials, breathe nanomaterials and eat nanomaterials every single day, because they're in just about anything 'Mother Nature' produces. We've been doing so for thousands of years. They're in our foods. They're in our water. They're in the dirt. They're in the air. Nanomaterials are everywhere. As I've pointed out in the past, nature even makes its own silver nanoparticles (see "Is 'Mother Earth' Making Her Own Colloidal Silver?" at this link).
But the anti-silver environmentalists completely fail to acknowledge these basic facts in their rants and raves against "nanomaterials" and "silver nanoparticles." And of course, they always make sure they work the word "toxic" into their articles as many times as possible when discussing nanomaterials or silver nanoparticles, in spite of the fact that after all of this exposure, for all of these thousands of years, there's been no real evidence of any toxicity whatsoever.
So this is literally one of the most dishonest and disingenuous pieces of journalism ever written, in my humble opinion. And I'd love to know who reviewed and edited this piece for Disclose.tv. They should either be fired for gross incompetence, or given a raise for masterful propaganda production.
The "Contaminated" Pears
Next key paragraph:
Lin and his colleagues, including MU scientists Azlin Mustapha and Bongkosh Vardhanabhuti, studied the residue and penetration of silver nanoparticles on pear skin.
First, the scientists immersed the pears in a silver nanoparticle solution similar to pesticide application. The pears were then washed and rinsed repeatedly.
Results showed that four days after the treatment and rinsing, silver nanoparticles were still attached to the skin, and the smaller particles were able to penetrate the skin and reach the pear pulp.
OMG! The researcher discovered that if you soak a pear in "a silver nanoparticle solution" and then wash and rinse it ("repeatedly," no less) and come back four days later, there will still be silver nanoparticles attached to the skin. Alert the media! (Oh, wait, I guess they did.)
My question: How many U.S. pear farmers are "immersing" their pears in a solution of silver nanoparticles? Can you name even one? The Disclose.tv news article certainly doesn't.
This reminds me of the infamous "Fathead Minnow" study, in which researchers soaked poor little Fathead Minnows in a silver nanoparticle solution, afterwards examining the fish and finding cellular abnormalities. The screaming headlines for several weeks read "Silver Nanoparticles Toxic to Fish."
Problem was, you can't find a river, lake, stream or pond in all of America composed of anywhere near the levels of silver nanoparticles used on that study. On the other hand, the world's oceans contain literally millions of tons of trace silver, and they are absolutely teaming with fish and other wildlife species.
Now, this new study claims that when pears were "immersed" in a "silver nanoparticle solution similar to pesticide application" some of the silver stuck tenaciously to the pears, and some even penetrated the skin of the pears. Horror of horrors, right?
How much silver was "still attached to the skin" isn't disclosed by the article, of course.
But we know from the Dartmouth University Toxic Metals program that humans routinely take in as much as 88 micrograms of silver per day, much of it from diet, and that the human body has such an effective mechanism for eliminating silver that 99% of it is "readily excreted from the body".
According to Dartmouth University researchers:
"Trace amounts of silver are in the bodies of all humans and animals. We normally take in between 70 and 88 micrograms of silver a day, half of that amount from our diet. Humans have evolved with efficient methods of dealing with that intake, however. Over 99 percent is readily excreted from the body.
Is silver harmful to humans? Unlike other metals such as lead and mercury, silver is not toxic to humans and is not known to cause cancer, reproductive or neurological damage, or other chronic adverse effects."
– Dartmouth University Toxic Metals Research Program
So my question is, why isn't Disclose.tv disclosing this well-known fact to its readers, so they might enjoy some relevant scientific context through which to view the hyperbolic claims being made in their own article?
Oh, wait. That would be fair and balanced, wouldn't it? Can't have that, can we? It's sensationalism that sells. Not balance. Certainly not fairness.
The Disclose.tv article goes on to state:
"The penetration of silver nanoparticles is dangerous to consumers because they have the ability to relocate in the human body after digestion," Lin said. "Therefore, smaller nanoparticles may be more harmful to consumers than larger counterparts."
Please note the double-minded nature of the above statements. The first half of the statement conclusively tells us "penetration of silver nanoparticles is dangerous" – apparently, no ifs, ands or buts about it. The second half of the statement says "smaller nanoparticles may be more harmful to consumers than larger counterparts."
No evidence is presented for either statement. No documentation whatsoever. In other words, once again, they're simply making stuff up. And covering their rears with weasel words like "may be," for those readers astute enough to question the researcher's obvious bias.
But this is the key: The average reader is left with the distinct impression that silver at any level is toxic to humans…that small silver particles (i.e. silver nanoparticles) are more toxic to humans than others…and that farmers are slathering this stuff all over their crops - decidedly disingenuous assertions on all counts. Indeed, there is not a single shred of evidence for these assertions. What an article, right?
Next key paragraph:
When ingested, nanoparticles pass into the blood and lymph system, circulate through the body and reach potentially sensitive sites such as the spleen, brain, liver and heart.
Once again, it sounds very ominous, doesn't it? But note here, too, there is no documentation whatsoever provided for these assertions. They're not even in quotes, so they appear to be interjected by the writer of the article, rather than the researcher of the "pear" study.
The implication, of course, is that once silver circulates through the body it gets stuck in "sensitive sites such as the spleen, brain, liver and heart." But where's the evidence for this? Why is there no documentation?
As pointed out earlier, the Dartmouth University Toxic Metals program found that "over 99 percent [of ingested silver] is readily excreted from the body" and that "silver is not toxic to humans and is not known to cause cancer, reproductive or neurological damage, or other chronic adverse effects".
And in his textbook for doctors, Silver in Healthcare: Its Antimicrobial Efficacy and Safety in Use, Dr. Alan G.B. Lansdown states, ""Contrary to statements that all forms of silver are cumulative once they enter body tissues and that very little is excreted, silver is actively metabolized in the human body and a large part eliminated eventually via the liver and urine."
Finally, animal studies have demonstrated virtually ZERO toxicity for silver nanoparticles, even when astonishingly high dosages have been given to the test animals. For example, see "New Research: Silver Nanoparticles Not Toxic" at this link, and "Colloidal Silver Nanoparticles Non-Toxic to Animals Even at 5,000 PPM!" at this link.
Why So Scary?
So, why so scary?
I'll tell you why. It's because the article is strictly agenda-driven; it was written with a preconceived editorial goal in mind, and that goal is to scare readers into believing silver nanoparticles are one of the most toxic substances on the face of the earth, and of course, that they're invading our fruits and veggies, when of course, they're simply not.
Next key paragraph:
The growing trend to use other types of nanoparticles has revolutionized the food industry by enhancing flavors, improving supplement delivery, keeping food fresh longer and brightening the colors of food. However, researchers worry that the use of silver nanoparticles could harm the human body.
Ahh…now we see the bias peeking through the sensationalism and obfuscation just a little bit more. "Nanoparticles" are suddenly deemed to be good developments. Not just good, but revolutionary developments!
But not silver nanoparticles. They're quite evil. They don't have any evidence, of course. You're just supposed to trust them. After all, they wrote it down in a study, and people wrote articles about it, and quoted it. And in the immortal words of late night TV host Craig Ferguson, " If it's writ down, it must be true!"
You'll note, of course, that once again no evidence whatsoever is presented for these contentions by the author of the article. Just the idea that researchers "worry" about silver nanopartilces – apparently night and day.
That's a classic propaganda technique designed to impart fear into a target audience without presenting any evidence of validity. Just state that "researchers worry" and gullible readers will pick up the cue and start wringing their hands in quiet unison.
"Oh, my God, there's silver nanoparticles infiltrating their way into my pears, and they'll probably end up crawling into my brain, spleen, liver and heart. We must immediately stop this evil conspiracy to turn me into a precious metal repository (before anyone figures out we don't have any evidence whatsoever for our hysterical contentions)."
The Truth is Quite Revealing
So what's the truth? Are silver nanoparticles really toxic to crop plants?
I find it interesting that in a study published in the March 2010 issue of the journal Mycobiology, researchers found that applying varying levels of silver nanoparticles to the roots of green onion plants completely eradicated fungal infections known to destroy the plants.
Not only did the application of silver nanoparticles destroy the pathogenic plant fungus, but according to the study authors, it caused no harm whatsoever to beneficial soil microbes needed by the green onion plants for growth. Nor was there any negative change in the soil chemistry or composition.
What's more, the nanosilver-treated green onion plants, once harvested, were demonstrated to have grown larger and to weigh more than the non-treated green onion plants. The researchers also pointed out that the more nanosilver they applied to the green onion plants, the lower the absorption levels into the plants became.
The researchers stated, "When the amount of nano-silver was calculated in the plants grown in nano-silver treated soil, it was found that the concentration of nano-silver used for treatment and the concentration of nano-silver found in the plants was inversely proportional."
In other words, contrary to the shrill concerns of the anti-silver environmentalists who claim silver will build up in crops to toxic levels, the plants themselves actually reduced their absorption of the nanosilver when higher levels were applied!
The conclusion drawn by the study published in Mycobiology was staggering in its implications:
"Nano-silver liquid for the prevention of various plant pathogenic fungi is highly recommended to farmers. Additionally, the use of nano-silver does not cause any harm to human beings, and it is safe for the environment and agricultural products.
In conclusion, we can say that by using nano-silver liquid, environmental pollution and the excessive use of chemical compounds in the field can be reduced. It is expected that the application of nano-silver at low concentrations will be economic, eco friendly, and decrease farm management costs."
In other words, contrary to the hyperbolic and sensationalistic cries of the anti-silver environmentalists, the use of nanosilver on crops, if it is ever approved by the FDA or USDA:
In short, the use of nanosilver on farm crops is actually an economically beneficial, yield-boosting and eco-friendly green idea! So I say, bring it on. It's time we actually implement the idea, and put the darned naysayers to shame with the results!
How Anti-Silver Propaganda Is Spread
So there you have the truth. But have you heard even a peep about this positive study from the news media?
What's more, virtually every single one of the articles being published on the "nanosilver pears" study exaggerates its findings out of all proportions. For example:
All in all, I found over 40 different websites carrying their own versions of this sensationalistic story, all screaming from the tops of their lungs that the sky is falling, the food is contaminated, and silver nanoparticles are to blame.
Even More Anti-Silver Propaganda
What's more, later permutations of the article about this study which I've found on a variety of websites and blogs suddenly started showing up containing a line that wasn't present in earlier versions of the articles. That newly introduced line reads:
"Over 200 agricultural pesticides contain nanosilver, which studies have shown to be toxic to humans and the environment."
Indeed, that statement is made in versions of the article found on The Activist Post blog, the Practical Populism blog, the Coto Report blog, the MultiPolar Future blog, the Global Elite blog, TheSleuthJournal.com website, and more!
For example, see The Activist Post blog, here.
Not one of those online resources credits that statement to anyone in particular, or even remotely attempts to document the blatant assertion that "over 200 agricultural products contain nanosilver…" Not a single one.
So where does the statement actually come from?
Turns out, it apparently comes from a 2009 article published on the BeyondPesticides.org website, which had absolutely nothing to do with agricultural products.
Here's the actual statement in a blog post from the Beyond Pesticides website titled "Nanosilver: Regulatory Issues":
"All pesticidal substances must be registered with the EPA in accordance with the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
Under FIFRA, silver nanoparticles meet the definition of a pesticide – that is, as a substance that is intended to disinfect, sanitize, reduce, or mitigate growth or development of microbiological organisms.
As such, silver nanoparticles, with their antimicrobial activity, should and must be regulated by the EPA as a pesticide.
However, despite over 200 products being sold on the consumer marketplace, the EPA has done little to regulate or evaluate the potential health and environmental impacts these particles may cause."
Do you see how the statement from the 2009 Beyond Pesticides article suddenly morphed just enough to make it sound like modern agriculture is slathering their farm products in nanosilver?
In reality, the 2009 article on the BeyondPesticides.org website was talking about consumer products that utilized nanosilver in their makeup - i.e., things like computer keyboards, toothbrushes, telephone mouthpieces, and others in which keeping germs to a bare minimum was the goal.
There's not a word about agricultural products in the entire article. But because the word "pesticides" appears in it, someone apparently creatively adopted the statement and applied it to agricultural products in the newer articles on the "nanosilver pears" study.
This, my friends, is how a blatant propaganda campaign is run, and how the internet is used to "juice" the story, blow it out of all proportion, and spread it worldwide, regardless of how utterly improbable it actually is.
And once again, the innocent victim is nanosilver. But what's the real truth?
The truth of the matter is that ingested silver has been found to be quite harmless, as long as blatantly excessive levels are not ingested. Indeed, the world's first ever colloidal silver human ingestion safety study was conducted last year. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. And the researchers found no toxicity whatsoever from the ingestion of nanosilver.
And cultures all over the world regularly ingest small amounts of silver as an integral part of their diets, all with no harm whatsoever, as you can see in the article "Is Silver a Toxic Heavy Metal?" at this link.
So what do you think? Did the Disclose.tv article live up to its self-described motto of "Truth Revealed"? Or did they fail miserably, in this particular case?
As I've demonstrated in article after article after article after article, the anti-silver environmentalists have no problem using rank propaganda and sensationalistic scare tactics to achieve their ultimate goal of removing silver from the commercial marketplace (see, for example, "The Global Environmental Campaign to Ban Antimicrobial Silver," here).
Indeed, if you've come this far, you've just read a textbook example demonstrating exactly how they do it.
--Author: Steven Barwick