Why does NYTIMES Reporter Danny Hakim Still Have a Job?

Feel free to email Liz Spayd, NY Times Public Editor (public@nytmes.com) to ask if they still take bias and systematic inaccuracy in reporting seriously.

In this era of fake news we need scientifically literate reporters who can grasp the basic concepts of “math” and “science”. Danny Hakim apparently has neither skill, but IS a level 20 Halfling Bard when it comes to grinding the anti-GMO axe. The question is not “Does Monsanto’s Glyphosate cause cancer?” a question that has been resolved many times over in the scientific literature, but “Why does Danny Hakim still have a job?!”

Last year, the New York Times’ Danny Hakim ran a sensational anti-GMO claim- he purportedly “extensively analyzed” GMO data and discovered that they “don’t yield more or reduce pesticide use”. The piece was quickly debunked for its shoddy reporting, as it became apparent that Danny Hakim held no grasp of basic mathematics, never mind the advanced statistics that would be necessary to perform an “extensive analysis”. For example, this ‘analysis’ used different units to make a direct comparisons (thousand metric tons for France, compared to million pounds in the US), and did not standardize pesticide amounts per unit area. Considering that the USA has over 9 times the amount of farmland that France does, this ‘analysis’ could not pass a ninth grade math quiz. In short, once bitten, twice shy- Danny Hakim- intentionally misused scientific data to create an illusion that GE crops increased pesticide use in the US. The actual data (when properly converted for units) shows the exact opposite.

Hakim’s newest- Monsanto Weed Killer Roundup Faces New Doubts on Safety in Unsealed Documents- central thesis centers around the mere existence of a lawsuit. I want to take this time to remind you that a lawsuit in not compelling, peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

From the article: “A lawsuit contends that the main ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most widely used weed-killer, can cause cancer.” and it goes on to cite numerous emails.

But where is the evidence? Where are the screenshots of these emails, or links to the court documents? What is the context of the entire email, so that we have confidence that these quotes are not cherry-picked, like they were with Dr. Kevin Folta? The article provides none of these.

Upon further examination, the actual lawsuit appears to be a motion to try and compel a former EPA employee to give a deposition under oath about her role in the reports on glyphosate. The entire lawsuit is based off of a letter from someone who did not get along with that EPA employee and openly mocked that employee’s education in the letter (see page 11).

The original filing turns out to be backed by U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an organic industry funded anti-bio group that regularly attacks researchers through Freedom of Information Act fishing expeditions, at the expense of taxpayers.

The original filling: https://usrtk.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/JessRowlandseries.pdf

The USRTK press release on the lawsuit: https://usrtk.org/pesticides/u-s-right-to-know-sues-epa-for-release-of-glyphosate-documents/

Also, note that this story was released on the same day that the European Chemicals Agency declared glyphosate to not be carcinogenic. Coincidence?

With respect to “ghostwriting” Dr. Heydens described his actual role in the Williams et al paper under oath, as follows: ‘I made some minor editorial contributions to that 2000 paper that do not mount to the level of a substantial contribution or an intellectual contribution and, thus, I was only recognized in the acknowledgements and not as an author, and that was appropriate for the situation.’ He further clarified, ‘It was things like editing relatively minor things, editing for formatting, just for clarity, really just for overall readability to make it easier for people to read in a more organized fashion.”

Lastly, Danny Hakim’s constant referencing of his own previous reporting as “evidence”, displays as much circular logic of your average MLM mommy blogger trying to simultaneously convince you that your body is strong enough to handle any vaccine preventable illness, but that you also need to shore-up your immune system with essential oil- pink salt- chiropractic-something.

For example, he refers to two of his own pieces here:

“Last year, a review by The New York Times showed how the industry can manipulate academic research or misstate findings.”

I encourage you to contact the Public Editor to demand evidence, request clarification and retraction of misstated data, and identification of conflicts of interest. We deserve better reporting.