Talk:Food irradiation/Mediation discussion

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Request for Arbitration[edit]

Since there was no activity towards formal mediation and since there seems agreement on MrArt's talk page that formal mediation is not more promsing than efforts already undertaken by the Mediation Cabal I am in the process of formal arbitration of the issue. Please provide any comments you might have about this proposal here. RayosMcQueen 16:47, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Current Business[edit]

We are proceeding without DeiterE since I cannot locate him.

Unfortunately, I am unable to commit my full time to this discussion and to contribute in re-wrting the whole article. I am retired and lack the support of any technical assistance. Hence, it is time for the younger and the newcomers in the field to learn about food irradiation and to provide the results in a new version of this wiki-entry on food irradiation.
Here comes a very general consideration: Does it make any sense to discuss individual publications in the field with the laymen as most participants probably are. Or is the only solution for this dispute to follow sound science as represented in the 'mainstream of science' and in the several national and international expert groups convened to judge the "wholesomeness" of irradiated food and the implication of "processing food by ionizing radiation". As long as not all participants have the full knowledge, insight and access to the wealth of publications in the field, including the many allegations introduced by opponents and consumer activists, this work here will not become successful.
However, I will watch the progress and add my proposals. Dieter E 17:33, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

There seems to be a dispute as to the general principles of the editorial and mediation process. It might be more productive to resolve this dispute, currently playing itself out at the end of the Mediation Process section, before continuing on the Outstanding Issues. --Jonathan Stray 18:20, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Because of the uncooperative nature of the other parties, specifically regarding "step by step" discussion and commitment to NPOV, I have decided to end mediation cabal and pursue formal mediation instead. MonstretM 20:45, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

All Participants, Please Read: Mediation Process[edit]

Hello. I'd like to begin the mediation process for this dispute. I am a volunteer for the Mediation Cabal, which means that this process is entirely informal. You don't have to listen to me, but I would like to help reach consensus if possible. For the record, my background is computer science and physics, which means I understand standard scientific method and experimental design, but I also consider myself an environment and public health geek.

Because there are many participants and this is a complex and contentious issue, I would like to propose some process to our discussion.

Suggestion #1: I suggest that we adopt "one thing at a time" as a ground rule, to prevent the mediation discussion for spiraling out of control into a million threads. The current topic will always be listed here, on the talk page, under the Current Business section. (This is not intended to prohibit other activity, for example updating the references section in the main talk page, but I would like to try to keep the discussion focussed.)

Suggestion #2: Saying "I agree" is always allowed. We are looking to reach consensus on the contents of this overview article; crafting a wording that reflects every tiny nuance of every editor's opinion is neither practical nor desirable. Therefore, I would like to encourage the participants to consider, before any detailed reply, whether they could instead live with a simple "I'm okay with this" or "I'm happy with so-and-so's suggestion". In this way I hope to be able to keep the discussion as brief as possible despite the large number of editors, and move toward consensus quickly.

These suggestions are not set in stone, but I am hoping that we can all agree to them for the moment, as a simple way to structure the discussion. If anyone has any objections to these guidelines, please tell us here.

I agree RayosMcQueen 22:15, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Jonathan, could you clarify your take on contributions on this page from users who were not listed as the original dispute parties? I am assuming since this is WIKIPEDIA everybody would be welcome to help, but I think it is worthwhile to clarify roles and responsibilities in the process before we get too much into it. RayosMcQueen 18:05, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Since this is an informal process, let's just say that everyone is welcome for the moment to add constructive comments, i.e. comments that bring relevant information into the discussion, or that bring us closer to consensus. If the discussion starts getting out of hand, we may need to start asking people to move their conversation elsewhere. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

What happened to the "one thing at a time" ground rule? Obviously, some people are so invested in this issue that they make a career out of endorsing food irradiation at work and tactically spamming the food irradiation discussion all day long, therefore skewing the issues by sheer verbiage. I would like a mediator who is capable of keeping this discussion focused and structured, and who can keep the irrelevant, editorializing, and leading comments in check. MonstretM 14:57, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

MonstretM: You are right in that there has been a certain amount of incivility in this discussion. Certain statements on this page are perhaps more accusatory than strictly necessary -- and some of them were even made made by you. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the underlying philosophy of moderation is "assume good faith" (WP:AGF). I would ask you to assume that your fellow editors here want to create an article that accurately and fairly reflects both the mainstream and minority opinions on this topic, just as I assume you do. I would also like to point out that this is a talk page. It is an informal discussion. It is not subject to the same strict editorial rules as primary articles. Editorializing and leading statements, while perhaps not the greatest idea, are not forbidden. However, they are often not helpful, and can hinder the process of reaching consensus.

In short, I would ask everyone involved to take a deep breath, re-read WP:NPOV (really!) and to always think carefully about the possible impact on their working relationship with other editors before they hit "save page".

MonstretM, you are also right in that we are getting a little unfocused at this point. Is there some topic in particular that you feel we should be considering right now? Do you have any other process suggestions? What do YOU feel we should be talking about? --Jonathan Stray 17:10, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

When rereading WP:NPOV per Jonathan's suggestion I came accross pretty clear guidlines in the undue weight section as to how the current dispute should be handled:
If a viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts;
If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents;
If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it does not belong in Wikipedia (except perhaps in some ancillary article) regardless of whether it is true or not; and regardless of whether you can prove it or not.
I am assuming that we can all agree here that the view that food irradiation if performed within regulatory limits produces food that is dangerous or unproven to the consumers health is not the view of the majority. MonstretM I would appreciate your confirmation on this assessment. This leaves possibility two and three. In that sense we should determine if the viewpoint proposed by MonstretM is that of a significant minority or that of an extremely small minority. To determine the answer to this question I would appreciate if those who are of the opinion that we are dealing with a significant minority should provide prominent adherents of the theory. Acceptable prominent adherents in my book should be well published scientists in relevant fields that present no obvious conflict of interest. MonstretM would you mind researching a list of such prominent scientists? How does the group feel about the proposal to adhere to the Due Weight requirements in general as a prerogative of this mediation discussion? RayosMcQueen 17:47, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't think prominent adherents necessarily need to be scientists. There are people who consider that irradiated food is not safe; this point of view probably has wide enough support that it needs to be discussed; requiring them to be scientists or even that they have no conflicts is IMHO arbitrary (though we might end up wanting to note such things.) --Jonathan Stray 18:02, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
To me the question wether prominent adherents necessarily need to be scientists depends on the specific issue at hand. If the proponents of the minority opinion maintain scientific language, cite scientific studies and make scientific claims, then I would require to see a list of prominent scientists actually agreeing with them in order to determine if this is a minority opinion or an extremely small minority opinion. If we are dealing more political / ideological issues such as globalization related concerns then non scientists opinions are certainly valid. Let me know if I am of track here. RayosMcQueen 18:49, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Initial Proposals[edit]

I've read both the article and the discussion here but there's a lot going on. As a starting point, can each of the interested parties briefly summarize what they would like to see changed in the article as it currently stands? -- Jonathan Stray

22:16, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Comments by RayosMcQueen[edit]

Thanks for your help on this Jonathan. Your background will be very helpful here. Proposals for the article are as follows:

1) Nine studies were provided by MonstretM to demonstrate health issues with irradiated foods. Of those nine studies thus far we were able to locate six in electronic form that are discussed below: Note that this study is in Russian and it was only possible to find an English abstract. Please also note that the reference of the study provided by MonstretM does not quite match the found abstract so I would like verification if this is indeed the study we are referring to.

I would appreciaten mediation of the disucions of the reference as there are mutual accusations of out of context citations. A special section for discussion of each of these studies has been made available.

WHAT is the sense of discussing the contents of a very few experimental studies selected? Most of them relate to follow-up research which has been published and is easily accessible. NOTE: Any result in science is only acceptable, after it had been confirmed by other independent groups/scientists. There is a lot of follow up-research, for example to Osipova; and even she holds a number of more püapers on her topic. Discussion needs the full picture. And the citation by MonstretM had only the wrong yoear, it is 1975 instead of 1957. Furthermore, discussion must not relate on abstracts, as it is well known that scientists frequently are unable to represent the essentials of their work in their abstracts. Sometimes abstracts even contain statements, which are not founded in the publication itself! Dieter E 17:42, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

2) Then there are a total of three studies remaining that we have not been able to obtain in electronic copy. A library in Karlsruhe, Germany that has provided some of the six studies we were able to obtain, informed me that the remaining copies might be available in paper form throughout various other German libriaries, but at this point I would like to initiate discussion on how to proceed if copies can not be obtained. My gut feeling would be to treat them as unverifiable citations, but I am sure that opinions will differ here. As I have invested considerable effort in located the studies we did find, the responsability of providing the remaining studies might lie with MonstretM who used them in to validate his opinion on health issues of irradiated foods.

PLEASE NOTE: in the US the National Agricultural Library has a rich collection of publications, mainly of US origin; the data are online accessible! Dieter E 17:57, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

3) The issue was also raised how to deal with the fact that thousands of studies on this topic exist and only those very view that allegedly present issues are singled out. I would like to see a mediated discussion on how to structure the information to make sure that we are giving a fair review. My proposal would be to focus on conclusions of scientific literature reviews of scientific panels that have been performed on numerous occasions rather than on layman interpretations of an arbitrary selection of individual studies. That proposal was contested and mediation will be helpful.

THIS POINT is rather easy to resolve: Nearly all of the historical studies are covered in
J.F. Diehl, Safety of Irradiated Foods, Marcel Dekker, 1995 (2nd edition). Opponents would need to provide arguments based on sound science pointing-out where Diehl is in error. And after this the mediation procedure has to try to find experts in assisting to resolve the respective issue.
NOTE ALSO and again, that a number of national and international expert bodies has worked on such lines and declared irradiated food being wholesome and safe. Dieter E 17:49, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

4) Lastly I would like to open a discussion on market reception and consumer acceptance of irradiated product. There was only one study provided which according to my bibliography arbitarily was amongst the most pessimistic available. I would like to propose we include additional studies that show the spectrum of findings. I can gladly help with providing additional studies that I am aware of.

CONSUMER ACCEPTANCE is an issue completely separate from 'wholesomeness' or toxicity'. There is a wast range of publications on consumer issues. Please use the Karlsruhe bibliography for more information( as already recommended by others)! And the fact from the market is, that consumers by irradiated products where available. And the turnover is sufficient for the food industry to use the technology. As proven in the US after the dismiss (bankruptcy) of Surebeam and the re-appearance of irradiated burgers in the supermarkets. Dieter E 17:55, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

5) If the group is able to establish that there is a strong scientific consensus that the consumption of irradiated within the parameters established by national and international health regulators does not lead to adverse effects for the consumer, then I think it would be appropriate to list that in the text.

RayosMcQueen 23:08, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Comments by GermanPina[edit]

I think the issues raised by RayosMcQueen are well prioritized. Beyond that, I would like to propose that we remove all statements on endorsement or criticism with irradiated food from the sections defining the technology, its use and the underlying principles and create a new separate section called: “Organizations endorsing Food Irradiation”, and other called “Controversy on Food irradiation", where we can discuss the various concerns and list the organizations that raise them. GermanPina 05:37, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Regarding GermanPina's suggestion: I had already made a section called "Public perception and expert opinions," to contain endorsements and criticisms, and I agree that they should be kept separate from the rest of the article. But since there are numerous controversies surrounding food irradiation, including irradiation leaks, conflicts of interest, and questionable endorsements, I think there should be several sections on the controversies, which are not quite the same issue as criticisms of food irradiation for scientific and health reasons. I think having just one section would serve to marginalize all the various issues, which are significant in their own right. MonstretM 00:16, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Comments by MonstretM[edit]

Hi Jonathan, Thanks for volunteering your time and help. I wrote up a summary of the issues, but I need to edit for brevity. Please give me a day to respond. Thanks again. MonstretM 03:00, 18 July 2007 (UTC)


Here is a general summary of the problem areas in the article and in the discussion thus far:

I think the first issue we have to resolve is to get us all on the same page about what constitutes neutrality. Looking at the previous discussion, one of the editors stated that he would like to use the article to "clarify public doubts" about food irradiation. Statements like that clearly demonstrate an anti-NPOV agenda since it indicates a goal of using Wikipedia to sway public opinion. Also, some editors aggressively insist on applying the terms "mainstream" and "consensus," whereas I do not believe they are appropriate. For example, Dieter E wrote: "NPOV, neutrality, 'proven safe', 'pro-irradiation' as the mainstream of science." But I feel that the term "mainstream scientific consensus" is inappropriate and misleading, given the significant amount of members in the scientific, public health, and medical communities who have expressed their concerns about the long-term health implications of irradiated food.

Furthermore, there are numerous controversies surrounding food irradiation and its endorsements. These controversies should be allowed to be documented in the article.

WHO is just one opinion -- controvertible at that -- on the safety of irradiated foods, and therefore their opinion must be indicated as such. See Therefore, it would be ok to state that WHO has endorsed food irradiation, but it would be weasel text to insert a scientifically unverifiable, non-NPOV statement that "WHO concluded that irradiated foods are safe." The major issue here is what exactly we can validly conclude from the entire body of studies on food irradiation. I propose that the only broad statement we can provide in NPOV and in honesty about food irradiation is that the long-term health risks of irradiated foods are still unknown. For example, see

YES: true. However, Delincee and other researchers stated that there studies do not (not yet) give any indication to assume that such risks exist. And finding out, whether irradiated food available to the general public over many generations poses any risk would be a great scientific experiment, which can not be done in the laboratory on test systems. Imagine, when the potato was brought to Europe, there was not at all any test whether this would pose any risk. (Unfortunately, people initially eat the leaves instead of the tubers and suffered accordingly.) Dieter E 18:04, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

My proposal for the format of the section on scientific studies is to present the findings in simple, clear, unbiased terms. Also, to set a standard for the quality of the article, I propose that the editors should demonstrate understanding of proper research style, especially how to paraphrase. Several editors have taken issue with my method of research reporting, writing that "whenever citing a study, we should paraphrase the summary of the authors of the cited study as faithfully as possible, as anything else would qualify under the realm of original research." These editors then proceeded to submit statements that steal words and phrasing liberally from the original text. Here I suggest the editors are confusing the concepts of paraphrasing and original research. I propose that their preferred style of using the authors' exact words (without quotes) actually constitutes plagiarism, whereas my style of paraphrasing actually conforms to recommended practices. Furthermore, if we were to use direct quotations only (with quotes), I suggest that it would severely congest the article and diminish its quality.

On a related note, several editors have objected to my practice of reading and scanning the entire research studies for information, whereas they would prefer to reference only the text from the abstracts, which I feel is an arbitrary and unconventional request. To claim that an author concluded that irradiated foods are not safe, which I did NOT do, is quite different from saying something like, the study found that irradiated carrots were correlated with statistically significant depressed growth rates, which is consistent with the actual findings.

I also take issue with the claim that the studies cited in this article, which present information about specific health concerns of irradiated food, are "selective". One editor claims that there are "2500+ studies" on food irradiation, and claims that these studies have proven that irradiated foods are "wholesome". My opinion is that, by nature of the scientific process, these studies cannot prove that irradiated foods are safe, but can only prove that certain irradiated foods have failed to demonstrate an immediate health risk. Therefore, such comments that "irradiated food has been demonstrated safe and adequate for human consumption" should be removed from the article, and replaced with more neutral, factual statements, such as "apples irradiated at 1 kGy did not demonstrate acute toxicity" (hypothetical statement for purpose of illustration).

There are several other specific types of non-NPOV text that keep popping up in the article, such as editorializing, weasel text by use of direct quotations of non-NPOV opinions, and insertions of leading wording. For example, one editor changed a section title from the more descriptive and neutral, "Loss of trace nutrients and changes to flavor/odor/texture" to the more benign sounding, "Tolerance of food items to irradiation," which is an industry marketing term.

Regarding editorializing, certain editors insist on inserting non-NPOV and uncited, unverifiable text into the article. For example: "Besides a large number of studies that showed no adverse effect of consuming irradiated food, a few studies seemed to suggest adverse results." I propose that this text is non-NPOV, because many studies did find "adverse effects," although certain interpretations of those findings were that they did not present an immediate danger or risk. No matter how one individually interprets the findings, in terms of whether eating irradiated foods presents an acceptable level of risk or not, it is misleading to claim that there were "no adverse effects" or that "irradiated foods are shown to be safe".

In summary, I don't think that publishing the findings of studies that have shown probable health risks is biased, but rather honest and therefore important for the scope of a Wikipedia article on food irradiation issues.

Use of all other terminology such as "wholesome" and "safe" is misleading and pure conjecture, and belongs more in the realm of marketing and public relations rather than science. MonstretM 00:16, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Comments by MrArt[edit]

I would like to get the page protection removed as soon as possible. The current page is a bit of a mess due to the brief edit war.

My opinion on how to deal with the thousands of studies that have been made is as follows: If we can cite, say, half a dozen independent (preferably from different countries) scientific literature reviews of the safety of irradiated food, I think we can dispense with the requirement to cite individual papers, unless they post-date the reviews.

If these reviews use the words 'wholesome' and 'safe' (such as this report by the Australia New Zealand Food Authority then we can use those words, appropriately attributed, in the article.

Would someone with better wiki skills than me mind archiving some of the talk page? And perhaps each disputed report could have its own subpage.

MrArt 12:25, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

I think this is a very good proposal. I would suggest we focus on recent reviews as they encompass all research since the beginning. RayosMcQueen 02:21, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Comments by Arved Deecke[edit]

My main goal for this article is to give perspective to the percieved scientific controversy of this technology. Food irradiation has been studied for over 60 years and it has been said that it is the best studied food technology to date. As stated in the article, it is fully indorsed by such important organizations as American Council on Science and Health, American Dietetic Association, American Medical Association, US Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Agriculture, Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Consumers League, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Center for Consumer Research, and the U.N. World Health Organization and many more. It is now permitted in over 60 countries up from the 40 mentioned in the current article so national regulators, academia, associations and individual scientist from 60 countries have concluded that the technology produces food that is wholesome and fit for human consumption.

I am, by the way, deliberately using the word "concluded" in disregard for User:MonstretM's comment as I cannot see why a regulator, individual, or scientific body cannot reach a conclusion after reviewing a topic. I am also using the word "wholesome" as it is a term used in scientific discourse to describe the suitability of a food additive, or process in all its attributes including nutritional, toxicological, and sensorial ones. The word "safe" on the other hand suggest only that such food material will not harm the consumer therefore as a term it is not as encompassing to describe this food materials adequacy. That being said I will certainly not let semantics stand in the way of consensus moving forward. It is my opinion that the opponents of Food irradiation are mainly non government organization that lack constituency, mandate and scientific expertise on the subject. It is also my opinion that such organizations live of donations from their supporters and therefore have an economic requirement to maintain a suitable number of controversial topics for people to perceive a need for their advocacy thus donating to their cause. There certainly are some respectable concerns with food irradiation, such as globalization of the food supply, increased energy consumption to transport longer lasting food further, or competition to local farms, perhaps. All of these can and should be addressed in the final article. But I would like to help work on the pseudo-scientific allegations that there are health issues with irradiated food and RayosMcQueen’s diligent work in finding the studies cited repeatedly by many of these advocacy groups, is showing some of the gross and deliberate misrepresentations and distortions required to maintain that irradiated foods are anything but wholesome when applied within the regulated doses and conditions. In that sense these groups distort science to further ideology and I hope that Wikipedia will not make herself a platform for that.

In the light of 5000 deaths due to food borne illness in the U.S. as estimated by the center of disease control, the distortion of science that can be a part of the solution is not a casual feat.

Turning these opinions of mine into tangible proposals for the article, I would like to see the following:

1) Follow GermanPina’s suggestion in keeping the article neutral in all technical sections. The reader should first hear what irradiation is, how it works, what it can and can not accomplish and what the different methods are, and how saftey in the plant is handled and monitored.

2) If felt by the group that it is required create a section that talks about the more ideological concerns such as globalization, energy use in transport, etc.

3) Review the studies cited by MonstretM in the section provided by User:RayosMcQueen and jointly draw conclusions on how to deal with them in the article.

4) Provide complete coverage of consumer acceptance studies, as suggested earlier. I have asked for Dr. Christine Bruhn’s help on this topic as she and her department at the University of California, Davis is dedicated to the topic of food irradiation consumer research. I am sure she will be able to provide a bibliography of what has been done.

5) The “Tolerance” section needs clean up, as it is not helpful to the Wikipedia reader in determining whether irradiation is suitable for a specific commodity towards a specific treatment goal. A simple table showing maximum doses and adverse effects seen beyond those doses would be suitable.

Arved Deecke 13:59, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Outstanding Issues[edit]

When we reach consensus on each issue, we can move it to the Resolved Issues section. If I missed something or there is an issue you feel needs to be added, please feel free do to so, but please also note it here, to bring your addition to the group's attention.

Please consider all of these points now open for (civil, constructive) discussion. Enjoy! --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Citations of controversial studies[edit]

I don’t think we need to settle the question of appropriate citation in its abstract form, or to try to define what constitutes “plagiarism.” I do agree that reading the through entire article is appropriate, however we must be careful (as always) to avoid quoting out of context. In this sense abstracts are often helpful as they are specifically written to be concise summaries of the author’s views. I also note that direct quotations, although perhaps uglier than paraphrasing, are at least indisputably accurate (if taken with appropriate context.)

I'm going to refrain temporarily from commenting on the other sections until this section is resolved first. So let me start by saying that abstracts are helpful, but they are not often representative of the complete findings. I've never met a scientist or scholar who would tell me to look at just the abstract to review the findings of a study. A scientific report is meant to be reviewed from start to finish. Why? Because the abstract is merely a summary. It may contain the researcher's conclusions, but keep in mind that his interpretation of the findings is ultimately just another opinion and (most researchers would agree) can often be wrong. Furthermore, it is completely false to claim that the researcher's conclusions are contained primarily in the abstract. The results and discussion sections are far more important for examining the researcher's findings. I don't know how anyone can support the arbitrary and improper request of using only the abstracts to report the findings, and I will not support a recommendation that goes against both common sense and scientific norms. It is quite acceptable to report the findings of a study without contradicting the author's conclusions. I do agree, however, that it would constitute original research to interpret the findings of the study in a way that is incompatible with the author's conclusions. One of the criticisms of the FDA review is that only the abstracts were considered, which is an error of omission that leads to faulty conclusions. Therefore, by reviewing only the abstracts, one is liable to draw conclusions that are at odds with the findings, which most people would agree is a graver error. Therefore, my proposal is to avoid relying on mostly opinions and interpretations of scientific findings in the article, and allowing the data to speak for themselves whenever possible. MonstretM 01:36, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Looking over the talk page, the main dispute seems to have been in regards to referencing the two sentences, both from the abstracts of research papers

since a small, but consistent decrease in growth rate has been observed in the animals raised on irradiated carrots, some question is raised on the wholesomeness of irradiated carrots


Decreased growth in male rats consuming (strawberries in their) powder form

MonstretM summarized these papers in the sentence "In several studies, rats that were fed various irradiated fruits and vegetables showed significant growth retardation and significantly depressed growth rates.”

Is this an appropriate summary? Discuss. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

In the previous discussion, I proposed a new summary for one of these studies' findings, which is: "Rats that were fed carrots irradiated at high doses showed depressed growth rates that were statistically significant." This is the text that we should consider for the current discussion, as the previous discussion already led me to revise the original text. I haven't gotten to the other studies yet, as first I would like to see what are the objections to this wording. MonstretM 01:36, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Here it becomes very obvious what the basic problem is: MonstretM proposes in his text "carrots irradiated at high doses"; and there were many experiments where animals were fed ingredients at doses up to 100 kGy and higher, where the product properties were completely destroid. For comparison, what is the validity on studying the toxicology of barbecueing by using steaks burned to coal?? Dieter E 18:13, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

While this was the only section that was discussed at length, it is my opinion that those studies cited by MonstretM were generally cited out of context often diametrically contradicting the authors conclusions. As examples, please consider the following example.

where the authors clearly concluded that there "were no consistent effects that could be linked to irradiation" and "irradiation was not a factor" while MonstretM used the study citing the following text "A diet of irradiated potatoes has been linked to shorter lifespans for offspring ..."

I won't comment on this study until the first study is resolved, but I do propose that this discussion will not progress unless the other parties agree to stop their repeated false accusations and misrepresentations of the facts and issues at hand. MonstretM 01:36, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

I do suggest we look at all the studies comparing the abstract to [user:MonstretM|MonstretM]]'s summary when discussion this issue. In the final text we can then well eliminate reference to these studies and focus on the reviews as was proposed by MrArt and RayosMcQueen. The problem as I see it is that the exact same studies are often used by a some groups opposing irradiation to alledge scientific proof that irradiation has adverse effects in disregard of the actual findings and the authors actual opinions. Maintaining this opinion therefore hinges on the readers relative inability to verfying the sources using misinformation as a way of doing business. This seems to me the key point that RayosMcQueen is raising in his reviews. It might actually good to clarify some of these misconceptions on Wikipedia, and I will leave this to the group to discuss. Arved Deecke 21:42, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Again, I take issue with the statement: "using misinformation as a way of doing business," in reference to Deecke's opinion about nonprofits. Please note that Wikipedia is itself a nonprofit, and furthermore that those types of statements are completely irrelevant to this discussion. However, the following loaded statements by Arved Deecke do need to be addressed adequately by the mediator:
I do propose that Arved Deecke has demonstrated a clear conflict of interest in this discussion, and that he should not be allowed to edit this article. And if he continues to make his outlandish and non-NPOV statements, and if no action is taken to remedy his conflict of interest, I will drop mediation and take this issue to the arbitration council. Jonathan, since you seem to be quite new to Wikipedia, I respectfully ask if you feel truly qualified to mediate such a complicated and heated debate. Your honesty in this case would be much appreciated as it would expedite the process of bringing this matter to the appropriate officials for resolution. In any case, I disagree with Arved Deecke's suggestion to use only 3rd party reviews, as it would be fundamentally flawed in the same manner that the FDA review was criticized for its cursory review of the studies. Furthermore, to report the findings, I suggest that we look at the complete studies, and not just the abstracts, but I do agree that we must not make broad statements or interpretations that conflict with the author's opinions.
I disagree with the proposal to eliminate references to the original studies, as the reviews themselves are less scientifically sound and lack objectivity. The best way to maintain NPOV is to report just the findings of the studies and let them speak for themselves. Opinions are not of much value to Wikipedia, and reviews/interpretations are nothing more than opinions, and their inclusion would constitute mostly weasel text. See
I disagree with Arved Deecke's statement that the scientific studies concluded that food irradiation has no adverse effects, which is merely his opinion, and in a court of law, most of Deecke's above statements would be thrown out as they would be considered leading and biased. Please note that I have consistently avoided inserting opinions and interpretations of the studies into the article as well as the discussions, therefore maintaining NPOV, whereas Arved Deecke has consistently attempted to insert non-NPOV statements into the article. MonstretM 01:36, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Ahh. So you are suggesting that there has been misinformation on these studies floating around for a long time. Is it the consensus of this group to address each of the disputed studies individually? If so, we can move the discussion from the main talk page into the Outstanding Issues section on this page. --Jonathan Stray 22:41, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Again, I think the most straightforward and logical way to handle this issue would be to use only the original studies as references, and present only the original findings in the article. The 3rd party reviews are actually the most controversial. Therefore, I agree that we should review the disputed studies individually and cite them in the article. 3rd party reviews should only be used in special circumstances. MonstretM 01:36, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I can certainly relate to Arved Deecke's point: When I was looking for those studies on the internet it was mainly organizations like Public Citizen or Food and Water Watch that have long held a stance against food irradiation that cited them often making claims towards their content that were identical or similar to those of MonstretM. In my opinion the claim made was usually distorted significantly from the authors conclusions suposedly for reasons of ideology and a discussion of these studies would certainly help to establish this as fact. At the same time no one ever seems to have digitized and published most of these studies which to me suggests an interest in maintaining in keeping the actual content of these studies hard to come by. Mainstream science seems to have abandoned those studies or integrated them into the wealth of food irradiation research. While I would welcome clarification on the underlying realities behind these studies, I am thinking that the Wikipedia user is best served if presented with the conclusions of relevant reviews, rather than being side tracked by controversies he / she may or may not be able to relate to. Regardless of what the final article will look like, we can certainly discuss the studies here if that is what the group wants to do. RayosMcQueen 23:04, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I take issue with RayosMcQueen's statements, such as "distorted significantly from the authors conclusions suposedly for reasons of ideology" and "which to me suggests an interest in maintaining in keeping the actual content of these studies hard to come by" and "Mainstream science seems to have abandoned those studies or integrated them into the wealth of food irradiation research" as they are completely leading, unverifiable, and most of all false. I do not agree to using 3rd party reviews unless their methodology is completely transparent and will be subjected to the same stringent review process we are giving to the individual studies that are being disputed.
I will not agree to the fundamentally flawed review procedure suggested by RayosMcQueen. He states that "I am thinking that the Wikipedia user is best served if presented with the conclusions of relevant reviews, rather than being side tracked by controversies he / she may or may not be able to relate to." This kind of statement is revealing as it exhibits a desired strategy that only serves private interests who would like important information not to be made available to the public. Wikipedia is not the tool for that type of goal. MonstretM 01:36, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Ok. I therefore propose we proceed with reviewing each of the disputed studies. My reasoning for this is that they seem to constitute a bibliography for the position that irradiated food is unhealthy; Not only do we need to represent this minority POV fairly, but if these studies are indeed widely cited as evidence, then accurate discussion of them would be a valuable addition to Wikipedia.

I have moved the studies from the main talk page to here. I have moved only studies which have been located at this point; if anyone can find the missing papers, we can discuss those too. I have kept only the abstracts, discarding all the discussion on suggested wordings. I have done this in an attempt to "start fresh" and fairly in moderated debate. I imagine this will annoy some of you, but again I felt this was necessary in order to 1) gain some perspective and 2) keep the discussion cool and reasonable. Everyone is free to move over any other text they feel contributes to the discussion.

I have completed your move to make sure that we include all studies and included previous discussions and the structure that RayosMcQueen originally proposed. Please let me know if you have a differing view on this. [history shows this was written by Arveed Dreeke -- please remember to sign!]
You are free to do this, but I would like to explain my logic for removing it a little more clearly. Basically, the participants in this debate have become polarized. We are not all working together to achieve our goal, that of an article which accurately and fairly and represents both the mainstream and minority opinions. This is what I, as mediator, feel to be the major problem at the present time, not the wording itself. Putting the (sometimes rather uncivil) discussion back in runs the risk of entangling everyone in old arguments; likewise, noting the original version of the text simply brings a disputed wording back into the discussion, rather than letting everyone involved start again from the raw material -- and the disputed text is short enough that starting over really loses very little. Again, I will not contest your changes, but I thought that I should explain my reasoning here, from a mediator point of view. --Jonathan Stray 13:28, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I can see your point and certainly appreciate you experience and leadership in mediation. We can certainly give this a fresh start if you like. We should make sure, however, that we include all of the studies as some were ommited by oversight in your last proposal. Arved Deecke 13:48, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I intentionally omitted studies for which we cannot find the source, as there is nothing yet to discuss on these. I've left them on this page anyway at this point. If I omitted other studies I am truly sorry! I will check the list now. I am also reverting to the "fresh start" situation. --Jonathan Stray 17:10, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

MonstretM has also made some comments on the suitability of review studies. I have moved that discussion below, into the section "how to handle thousands of studies". --Jonathan Stray 12:47, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Brownell, L.E. et al. “Growth, reproduction, mortality and pathological changes in rats fed gamma-irradiated potatoes.” Contract report No. DA-49-007-MD-581, Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General, 1959.[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit]

Abstract of the study[edit]

ABSTRACT For two years a colony of albino rats was fed diets of which one third contained potatoes which had been exposed to ionizing radiation for sprout inhibitiono Growth. food consumption, reproductive performance, hematologic changes, mortality, and pathologic.changes in these rats were compared with the same in animals fed a nonirradiated potato diet. The growth, reproductive performance, and pathologic changes up to 30 weeks of second- and third-generation animals were also compared with corresponding controls. Three results emerged from this studyo (1) There were no consistent effects due to irradiation of potatoes which could be established by these criteriao (2) There was a slightly greater mortality rate among males of the first generation fed the irradiated potato diets which was of questionable statistical significance and may be related to the poor condition of the irradiated potatoes relative to the nonirradiated controls. Second-generation males and females fed the irradiated potato diets also experienced a higher mortality rate but this is attributed to genetic factors. (3) An unusually high incidence of a necrotizing arteritis resembling "peri-arteritis nodosa" occurred in the first- and secondgeneration animals in this experiment~ The combination of a genetic and a dietary factor is implicated in causing this disease, but irradiation of the potatoes is not a factor. Studies are currently in progress on hypertensive vascular disease in descendants of the animals used in the above experiment. OBJECTIVE The objective of this experiment was to test the wholesomeness of irradiated potatoes using albino rats as the experimental animals.


The Authors of the study concluded that the observed effect of slightly greater mortality rate amongst males of the first generation fed the irradiated potato diets was of questionable significance and that there was no consistent effects due to irradiation of potatoes which could be established by these criteria. Later they conclude that irradiation was not a factor in the observed cases of necrotizing arteritis. I am not sure, why we are even discussing this study with the intent to use it to prove that irradiation did have an effect. I am raising some serious eyebrows here. RayosMcQueen 17:51, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Osipova, I.N. et al. “Influence of the storage and culinary treatment of irradiated potatoes on the cytogenic activity of potato extracts.” Voprosy Pitaniya (USSR), 4:54-57, 1957.[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit]

The original study is in Russian and has not been located to date. Who can help?

Abstract of the study[edit]

the reference seems to be incorrect, but I believe the abstract of the study that User:MonstretM is referring to can be found at the article itself is in Russian.

Actually I believe the correct study is this one
The year appears to have been misquoted as 1957 rather than 1975. - MrArt 02:30, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

The abstract of this study reads:

"Male-rats (25--27 g) were given perorally extracts separated from potato subjected to gamma-radiation in a dose of 10 krads (test groups) and from nonirradiated tubers (controls). The extracts were introduced for a period of one week, daily in an amount of 1 ml. The male from the test groups (each numbering 8--10 animals) received extracts of the raw potato stored for 4 months after irradiation and of the potato subjected to thermal treatment (cooking) after 1 day, 1 and 4 months of its storage. The frequency of chromosomal aberrations in the bone marrow cells was determined by the anaphase method. Altogether about 34 thous. cells (500-600 from each animal) were counted. The results testified to a significantly reduced frequency of chromosomal aberrations (bridges and fragments) occurring in the bone marrow cells of the mice which received extracts from the raw stored irradiated potato and from thermally treated freshly irradiated tubers, as compared to extracts obtained from the raw freshly irradiated potatoes. The extracts of irradiated potato cooked after 1 and 4 month of storage did not display any mutagenic properties."

The abstract can be found online at:

RayosMcQueen 18:56, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

I've replaced your abstract with what I believe to be the correct one. MrArt 02:30, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Good Catch, thanks MrArt


This study compares uses a different food for the study group (potatoes) and for the control group (tubers). The observed results testify a significantly reduced frequency of chromosmal abberations from those mice that received freshly irradiated potatoes vs. stored irradiated potatoes and thermally treated freshly irradiated tubers. It makes no statements about any chromosomal impact of the irradiated diet vs. the unirradiated controls. At this point I can not guess at the Authors conclusions and we do not have the study even if it were in Russian. For me the status of this citations is unverifyied until a clear conclusion of the authors can be determined. The closest thing to a conclusion is that drawn from the authors 1978 publication "Cytogenetic activity of freshly irradiated potato" where they did compare irradiated study group to unirradiated control and concluded that there was no statistically significant impact of irradiation of the diat on chromosomal abberations.

"The anaphasic method was employed in studying the frequency of chromosomal aberrations in the bone marrow cells of mice after feeding them on irradiated and non-irradiated potatoes. The latter were irradiated raw with gamma-rays in a dose of 10 krad and then fed to the animals for 5 days 24 hours upon irradiation in an amount of 3 g per animal to male albino mongrel mice (10 in each group), viz. in the 1st test series--raw and in the II--cooked. As controls in both series served raw or cooked non-irradiated potatoes. A total of 12 800 cells from 40 animals were counted for the presence of bridges and fragments. The results of the cytogenetic analysis bore proof to the absence of any statistically significant difference in the frequence of chromosomal aberrations in the bone marrow cells of mice fed on freshly-irradiated potatoes and in those of control animals."

So at least by 1978 the authors were convinced that irradiation had no impact. RayosMcQueen 18:03, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Kesavan, P.C. and Swaminathan, M.S. “Cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of irradiated substrates and food material.” Radiation Botany, 11:253-281, 1971.[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit]

not yet located. Who can help?


I would propose we flag this as unverified until produced in electronic form and reviewed. RayosMcQueen 18:03, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

This publication is referenced in JF Diehl, Safety of ittadiated food, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1995 (2nd ed.), p.179 Dieter E 13:39, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Bhaskaram, C., and G. Sadasivan. “Effects of feeding irradiated wheat to malnourished children.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 28: 130-135, 1975.[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit]

RayosMcQueen 16:01, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Abstract of the study[edit]

ABSTRACT Fifteen children suffering from severe protein- calorie malnutrition were divided into three groups of five each and received diets con taming either unirradiated, freshly irradiated, or stored irradiated wheat. All the children were hospitalized for a period of 6 weeks and leukocyte cultures were done initially and at intervals of 2 weeks. Children receiving freshly irradiated wheat developed polyploid cells and certain abnormal cells in increasing number as the duration of feeding increased and showed a gradual reversal to basal level of nil after withdrawal of irradiated wheat. In marked contrast, none of the children fed unirradiated diet developed any abnormal cells while children fed stored irradiated wheat showed polyploid and abnormal cells in significantly decreased numbers. Though the biological significance of polyploidy is not clear, its association with malignancy makes it imperative that the wholesomeness of irradiated wheat for human consumption be very carefully assessed. Am. J. C’lin. Nutr. 28: 1 30- 1 35, 1 975.

RayosMcQueen 15:51, 18 July 2007 (UTC)


The study was critizised as part of the report on the Examination of the Results Obtained by National Institute of Nutrition(NIN), Hyderabed and Bhahba Atomic Research Centre(BARC), Bombay of their studies on the Effects of Freshly Irradiated Wheat on Lymphocytes in Vitro from Malnourished Children, the Cytology of Bone Marrow of Rats and Mice, Meiotic Chromosomes in Male Mice, Germ Cell Survival in Male Mice and Rats and Dominant Lethal Mutations in Rats and Mice.[4] by P. C.Kesavan and P.V.Sukhatme.

The authors of the review raise the following concerns with the study:

  • When interviewed by the reviewers one of the authors of the study Dr. Sadaasvian desposed that the chromosomes of these children had a "fuzzy" appearance and therefore counting the chromosnomes was almost impossible. In fact he was surprised as to how his co-author Dr. Bhaskaram could have come to the conclusion that there were no polyploid cells in the children before their being fed on irradiated wheat.
  • NIN has reported that in tow childresn who were followed up after withdrawal of irradiated wheat diet, the number of polyploids and abnormal cells had considerably decreased at the end of 16 weeks and by the 24th week all the polyploid and abnormal cells had completely disapeared. This observation is very surprising in view of the fact that the thymic lymphocyts which alone respond to phytohacomoglutnin has a very long live span and therefore it is only expected that any abnormalities included in these cells would last for several years.
  • That the maximum frequency of polyploid cells observed in children fed irradiated wheat is, according to the NIN, 1.8% and this frequency is well within the normal ranve of incidence of the polyploid cells in normal healthy human beings.
  • The comittee therefore records that the conclusion arrived at by the NIN are not sustained.

If someone feels it is important to include this study in the article of the Wikipedia I would require a detailed review subsequent studies and scientific reviews performed on the matter. This brings me back to endorsing MrArt's proposal to focus on reviews rather than those individual studies.

The 'polyploidy issue'[edit]

This is an exemplary effort to introduce the average reader and layman into the dispute about an historical Indian study, where malnourished children have been used to evaluate effects of consuming irradiated wheat.

FIRST of all, there are fundamental questions and concerns:

Experiments with malnourished children: Is it ethically responsible to conduct experiments on children in a critical state of health instead of giving them the optimal diet to recover from starvation?

In science, any experiment indispensably must be repeatable by other experimenters. Would it be ethically responsible, for example in the US, to conduct any experiment on malnourished children? And what could be the resource of such children in the US?

Where those children in the Indian experiments volunteers as required for experiments on humans?

As long as all those questions cannot be answered by a clear YES, the Indian experiment and the results reported remain questionable.

For ethical reasons, several groups of researchers have carried out equivalent experiments on other test systems such as animals, cell cultures and micro-organisms, and even on human volunteers. These studies could not confirm the Indian results. However, the opponents to food irradiation do refer only this one initial study instead of considering the wealth of publications since then where researchers have contributed to a better knowledge of the issue and have resolved the case as not relevant.

SECOND, there are scientific problems:

There are many details in the Indian study which are questionable, and which could give even the layman some insight into the more scientific aspects of the dispute:

1) The malnourished children were feed 'irradiated wheat', reportedly. Was it the whole grain, was it the flour as an ingredient of some special diet. The section 'materials and methods' of the publication does not reveal such essential details. Hence, the experiment cannot be repeated as we don't know the diet. And it can also not be validated whether the reported effects are due to the irradiated wheat or to some other conditions in the composition of the diet or the design of the experiment.

2) A total number of 15 malnourished children was divided into three groups; hence, the question remains unanswered whether five individuals per treatment-group are sufficient for statistical evaluation of the experiment. [note: statisticians can easily calculate from the average value and its standard deviation (here the normal rate of polyploidy and its variability) the minimum number of individuals per group needed in order to consider any other result as significantly different from the experimental group.]

3) It is not clear whether increased polyploidy is a positive or a negative effect in humans. Hence, if some increase is reported what is the implication? [ASSUME: increased polyploidy would be a sign of enhanced health, consuming irradiated wheat would then be a contribution to wellness of men.]

4) The natural (background or spontaneous) rate of polyploidy in humans is about 0.8; however the publication reports zero for the reference group. This leads inevitably to the conclusion that the experiment was not designed appropriately and hence the findings reported have no significance. The researchers are proven unable to conduct a meaningful experiment.

THIRD, there is the consensus of the scientific world:

Regardless of such basic consideration given above, many national and international expert groups have considered the Indian experiments and the reported data in full detail. Criticism has been raised that this Indian experiment is not valid and cannot prove that there any risk exists with the consumption of irradiated food. With other words, this study has long been refuted.

Any person who is at variance with such findings must not rely on this single original publication exclusively, but needs to provide evidence where and how such national and international experts were at error in validating the Indian experiment. Such arguments must be based on sound science in order to be evaluated.

A complete and comprehensive review of this scientific issue is found in J.F. Diehl, Safety of Irradiated Foods, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1995 (2nd edition), p.198ff. It should be noted however, that in his chapter on toxicological safety ‘only’ 200 references are listed out of the huge amount of publications; and ref.116 is the publication under dispute here.

FINALLY, note also, that opponents to food irradiation using this original Indian study have never tried any answer to the questions raised above.

Dieter E 17:18, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Jaarma, Maire. “Studies of chemical and enzymatical changes in potato tubers and some higher plants caused by ionizing radiation, including studies on the wholesomeness of irradiated potato tubers and effects on some carbohydrates in vitro.” Biokemiska institutionen, Kungl. Universitetet I Stockholm, 1967.[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit]

not yet located. Who can help?


I would propose we flag this as unverified until produced in electronic form and reviewed. RayosMcQueen 18:08, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Shaw, M.W. and Hayes, E. “Effects of irradiated sucrose on the chromosomes of human lymphocytes in vitro.” Nature, 211:1254-1255, 1966.[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit] RayosMcQueen 15:02, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Abstract of the study[edit]

The study does not inlcude an abstract as such. The study did show mutations of human cells in vitro when exposed to succrose irradiated at 25kGy. Please read the complete text to form an opinion and disucss. The concluding remarks of the study are:

"Our experiments have no bearing on the question of whether point mutations are produced by irradiated sucrose. Neither do they shed light on the important question of whether foods which have been preserved by irradiation and ingested by mammals produce chromosome damage in vivo. These questions are particularly pertinent because evidence of increased mutations in Drosophila suggests that the toxic products of irradiated media can indeed pass the gastro intestinal barrier and mass human consumption of irradiated foods is being seriously considered. Feeding experiments with deer mice are now in progress in order to asess somatic damage to the chromosomes in bone marrow and germinal damage to chromosomes of testicular cells undergoing speratogenesis."

RayosMcQueen 15:15, 18 July 2007 (UTC)


What conclusions are we to draw from a study on food irradiation with respect to the wholesomeness of the process if the authors of the study thems selves conclude that their study has no bearing on such questions? RayosMcQueen 18:21, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

This study is also referenced in JF Diehl, Safety of irradiated foods, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1995 (2nd ed.), p.202 Dieter E 13:42, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Verschuurren, H., G. Van Esch, and J. Van Kooy. 1966. Ninety day rat feeding study on irradiated strawberries. Food Irradiation – Quarterly International Newsletter, 7(1-2):A17-A21.[edit]

Correct name of the first author Verschuuren NOTE: The publication in 'Food Irradiation – Quarterly International Newsletter' of the former IFIP (International Food Irradiation Project, located at Karlsruhe, Germany) is not the original data and publication! Dieter E 21:13, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Location in electronic form[edit]

RayosMcQueen 15:31, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

Abstract of the study[edit]

The study does not include an Abstract as such. The conclusion reads:

Over a period of 12 weeks Wistar rats received strawberries which were non-irradiated or irradiated with 500 and 5000 Krad respecteively. In one experiment the strawberries were given as a 5% "strawberry-powder" in the diet ; in the other experiment as "strawberry-juice" by stomach tube. The male rats which recieved strawberry powder irradiated with 5000 Krad showed a statistically significang growth retardation. There appears to be no reasonable explanation for this abnormality. The corresponding female rats receiving the same pwoder and rats of both sexes receiving the juice irradiated with 500 Krad showed no significant effects.

No obvious influence on the blood composition could be discovered in the different groups. Histopathological investigation of the organs did not show abnormalitiies which could be connected with the administration of the irradiated strawberries. It has been clearly demonstrated that the animals which received strawberries irradiated with 500 Krad did not show any kind of toxic effects.

These results show that the preservation of strawberries by irradiation is biologically acceptable and seems therefore to be promising. It might, however, still be necessary to carry out chronic toxicity experiments. The next step to be investigated before commercialisation is wether this process is economically viable. Data on the economics will become avaialble from pilot plant work in the Netherlands during 1968.

RayosMcQueen 15:42, 18 July 2007 (UTC)


Strawberries can currently be irradiated to 100 krad (1kGy) according to existing FDA ruling. It is furthermore interesting to note that FDA rejected this study in secondary review due because of inadequate diet and restricted food intake during the performed experiment. [1] The most important eyebrow raiser for me is that the authors conclude that the treatment is biologically acceptable and consider it promising at doses 5 times the permited dose yet we are still somehow trying to turn this around as proof that irradition is dangerous. RayosMcQueen 18:18, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Technical explanation: The radiation absorbed dose in this paper is given in the now obsolete units of 'rad'; conversion to actual SI-units (Gray [Gy]) is 1 Gy = 100 rad. Hence, the doses given in the paper: 500 krad = 5 kGy, 5000 krad = 50 kGy.
Bibliographical note: The paper appeared in a journal published by the French Atomic Energy Commission (Saclay); the authors Verschuuren and Esch appear to have not published any other paper on food irradiation; the strawberry study appears not to be confirmed by any later study on the same subject.

Also this particular publication can contribute to exemplary explain to the average reader and layman the difficulties in validating early publications because of deficiencies in the experimental set-up and in the lacking complete and concise description of the results.

Irradiation of the strawberries in 1 kg-bags was done with 3 MeV electrons from one side. As the penetration of low-energy electrons is limited, the surface might have received a considerable over-dose, and the rear side may have received severe under-dose. No information on dosimetry results is presented.

It is at least questionable, whether the chosen dose steps of 5 kGy and 50 kGy are meaningful: irradiation of strawberries can serve the technical purpose of shelf-life extension, about 1 kGy would be sufficient to retard after-harvest ripening and to reduce the load by moulds and yeasts; 5 kGy is most likely to impair already the quality (texture); 50 kGy is in the sterilization range. It is not explained in the paper for what purpose and what expected effect the rather high dose values have been chosen.

As stated in the authors' conclusions it was clearly demonstrated that strawberries irradiated at 5 kGy did not show any toxic effect. Only whether the strawberries were given as 'juice' or as 'powder' caused differences between the experimental groups, however, not the dose applied.

The only reported effect was that male rats receiving the strawberries as powder irradiated at 50 kGy showed 'growth retardation' (ie slower increase in body weight) compared to the 5 kGy and the control group. However, the graphs presented do not show the variability of the data (standard deviations) and, hence, the significance of this observation cannot be validated.

CONSEQUENTLY, the conclusion of the authors that irradiation of strawberries is acceptable, appears not to founded. Dieter E 12:31, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Tinsley, I.J., et al. 1970. The growth, reproduction, longevity, and histopathology of rats fed gamma-irradiated carrots.[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit]

Abstract of the study[edit]

"On analyzing these variables in animals raised on the irradiated pork, peach, jam or flour rations, there does not appear to be any detrimental effect which could be associated with the irradiation process.

Since a small, but consistent decrease in growth rate has been observed in the animals raised on irradiated carrots, some question is raised on the wholesomeness of irradiated carrots. This effect was more pronounced with males than with females and cannot be explained by differences in food intake. The possibility of some bacterial contamination in the irradiated carrots has not been definitely eliminated. Further experiments would thus be necessary to define the nature of this effect."


further experiments have been conducted and no pattern emerged. The study was therefore dismissed in later reviews. Please see for an overview of studies performed on the subject. If we were to include this study we would need to include all 50+ studies that refuted its findings in what might be a dismally boring experience for the Wikipedia reader. I therefore suggest we dismiss this study in the article. RayosMcQueen 18:27, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Spiher (sp?), A.T. 1968. Food irradiation: An FDA report. FDA Papers, Oct[edit]

Location in electronic form[edit]

not yet located. Who can help?


I would propose we flag this as unverified until produced in electronic form and reviewed. RayosMcQueen 18:28, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

What should we do about missing studies?[edit]

We need to be able to find any references we want to cite, as per WP:VERIFY. I will assume that RayosMcQueen has made a good faith attempt to locate the missing papers. Does anyone else want to try? --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree with abandoning studies that can not be produced for everybodies review RayosMcQueen 23:05, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Rayos (may I call you Rayos?) do you have online access to academic journals? I could look there, if you haven't already. --Jonathan Stray 23:25, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Most certainly you can call me Rayos. Believe me I have looked all over. I just don't think those studies were ever scanned. Someone would probably need to go to a reputable library and get a hard copy of the actual journals. We would then need to get a translator for the russian study. I feel I have done my share of data mining at this point and see the burden of proof with those who whish to cite the remaining studies. I have asked a library in Germany to scan a review of most of these studies and will make that available if I get something back. RayosMcQueen 23:42, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

How to handle “thousands of studies”[edit]

RayosMcQueen’s suggestion of citing recent review studies in the scientific literature strikes me as very reasonable. Summarization of many studies is a tricky business, original research in its own right which we have neither the mandate nor the capacity to carry out. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

MonstretM wrote, originally in the "citations of disputed studies" section above,

I disagree with the proposal to eliminate references to the original studies, as the reviews themselves are less scientifically sound and lack objectivity. The best way to maintain NPOV is to report just the findings of the studies and let them speak for themselves. Opinions are not of much value to Wikipedia, and reviews/interpretations are nothing more than opinions, and their inclusion would constitute mostly weasel text. ... I do not agree to using 3rd party reviews unless their methodology is completely transparent and will be subjected to the same stringent review process we are giving to the individual studies that are being disputed.

With respect, we really must use reviews or "meta" studies. There is simply far too much research to cover each paper individually, and besides, summarizing the current state of scientific knowledge is itself a major piece of original research; this is why review studies exist at all, and why they are considered worthy of publication in scientific journals. I also don't see why they would be any less objective than any other published research. And yes, of course we will accept only high-quality review studies and everyone will have the chance to comment on their use here. And yes, this does not mean we can't cite specific individual studies where warranted. --Jonathan Stray 11:37, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

There is no alternative to using reviews: The principle reason is that science develops; the actual state can only be seen when the full chain of work is considered. Instead, opponents to food irradiation (systematically?) pick a very few publications which in their view support their arguments; and ignore the wealth of information available. There are electronic tools facilitating such review work: electronic libraries, to learn more about the work of the original authors; Science Citation Index to find out about consecutive studies referring to the original publication. Such workload has already been taken by national and international expert groups and by review authors (eg. see J.F. Diehl, Safety of Irradiated Food, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1995 (2nd ed.)) Dieter E 09:10, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Is it appropriate to state “mainstream” or “consensus” opinions?[edit]

The equal validity section of the WP:NPOV FAQ states that the NPOV policy "does not stop us from describing the majority views as such". The undue weight section of NPOV says that "Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject, or among the concerned parties." My reading of this is that if there is clearly a "mainstream" or majority opinion, we must say so. Otherwise we run the risk of exaggerating the prominence of minority opinions, which of course we must also discuss. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

As I see it this is the heart of the issue. There is a relatively small group of people who are trying to discredit the mainstream scientific consensus that food irradiation is safe. I think the Wikisites that you, Jonathan, list here are providing helpful guidance as to how to proceed. I propose we focus on determening to what a degree there is a consensus first and then assign appropriate bandwidth to each of the viewpoints. Despite your impecable moderation skills, I feel that there is little possibility for truely converging viewpoints on either side of the debate and we should acknowledge that before trying to move unmovable objects. You might have to make the call how well defined the consensus is. Arved Deecke 12:53, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
We do not need to reach consensus on our individual viewpoints, we only need to reach consensus on the article. The article will not be what you, personally, or MonstretM, personally would like to see. However, we will have succeeded if we emerge with an article that both of you feel accurately describes your individual viewpoints. To quote WP:NPOV yet agian,
"As the name suggests, the neutral point of view is a point of view, not the absence or elimination of viewpoints. It is a point of view that is neutral, that is neither sympathetic nor in opposition to its subject. Debates within topics are described, represented and characterized, but not engaged in. Background is provided on who believes what and why, and which view is more popular."
Note also that we cannot simply split the article into "for" and "against" sections; this is known as a POV Fork and is explicitly discouraged in the article structure section of WP:NPOV. To achieve this we will need to work together, because I don't think you, Arveed, could write an article that fairly represents MonstretM's views, and vice versa. Difficult I know, but possible if we can agree on the goal. --Jonathan Stray 17:49, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
The underlying issue of Arved Deecke's point as I understand it is one of undue weight. I insist that MonstretM should make his case, why this is a minority opinion and not a very small minority opinion before we determine how to proceed. Right now we are just consuming an undue amount of bandwidth without fully understanding the constituency on either side of the dispute. RayosMcQueen 19:03, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

If so, is the “mainstream” or “consensus” opinion that irradiated foods are “safe”?[edit]

Well, is it? Do we have references to good review papers from which to determine whether this is or not the case? --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I certainly would think so. I will try to get a bibliography. RayosMcQueen 23:37, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I am pasting a comment by RayosMcQueen from the previous discussion that I felt was helpful in this context Arved Deecke 13:04, 25 July 2007 (UTC):
MrArt, the USDA operates the National Agricultural Library which has a Food Irradiation Wholesomeness Database including research citations from 1947 through 1997. If you run a search with an empty search field you will find that there are 4188 studies on file that are relevant to the topic. If you search "carrots" for example you will find 87 additional studies on the wholesomeness of irradiated carrots alone. Potatoes returns 207 results.

This suggests that out of 4188 studies performed there are nine that we are aware of showing differing kinds of negative effects. The fact that the disputed study of carrots was repeated 87 times and potatoes were studied 207 times suggests a reasonable amount of due dilligence by the scientific community prior to reaching its conclusions. Furthermore we must take into account that food irradiation has been approved by 60 countries with 60 scientific review pannels, as well as the international agenceies like Codex, FAO, WHO, IAEA. There are literally tens of thousands of scientists involved in the process. I believe the opponents are largely non scientific consumer advocacy groups with a few maybe 20 scientists in relevant fields supporting their opinion. Arved Deecke 13:04, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Is it appropriate to state that irradiated foods are “safe”?[edit]

It is appropriate to note what the scientific consensus is. Is it also appropriate to state that irradiated foods are safe as fact?

MonstretM has raised the broader epistemological issue of whether it is actually possible to draw conclusions on safety from the existing evidence. He claims that “the only broad statement we can provide in NPOV and in honesty about food irradiation is that the long-term health risks of irradiated foods are still unknown.” Unless someone can point us to a solid study which specifically tracks the long-term health-risks of irradiated food, it is true that these risks are unknown.

This is an issue with very many new technologies, and it is reasonable to take the position that humanity should proceed carefully with these unknown risks. This is known as the Precautionary Principle. It may be appropriate to discuss this point briefly, and link to this article. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I think Dr. Kathreen M. Shea in her report to the American Acamdemy of Pedriaticians has done a wonderful balancing act when writing:
Hundreds of animal feeding studies of irradiated food, including multigenerational studies, have been performed since 1950.18 Endpoints investigated have included subchronic and chronic changes in metabolism, histopathology, and function of most systems; reproductive effects; growth; teratogenicity; and mutagenicity. Because a large number of studies has been performed, some have demonstrated adverse effects of irradiation, but no consistent pattern has emerged.18,19 Independent reviews of the scientific evidence by a series of expert committees, including the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation, as well as the FDA have concluded that irradiation of foods under specified conditions is safe.14,17,20
I suggest we consider adapting this text for our article including its references. Please see for the entire report. RayosMcQueen 23:36, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I fully agree with this text and its citations. Good find RayosMcQueen Arved Deecke 13:07, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
This text covers mainly the US situation and is less useful for reference here; I have now read the full text and checked the references used. A number of factual errors and the missing developments since 2000 (eg. 2ACBs) are another deficiency. I would have further, more detailed comments on the text, which I would not yet make available to the general public, without having discussed my comments with the author Shea. Dieter E 17:32, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Should we discuss the WHO opinion?[edit]

We could cite the WHO if they have performed their own research according to accepted standards of science. Otherwise, we could just list them in the “organizations endorsing” section --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

The WHO like most regulators have performed scientific reviews of exisitng publications to draw conclusions for future policy. I agree with the suggestion you made elsewhere, Jonathan, that such reviews present original research in their own right and if we go the route of presenting scientific reviews rather than individual studies then such publications by the WHO, the FDA and others will certainly be appropriate examples. RayosMcQueen 23:09, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

PLEASE GRASP that WHO and other organization have never done their own review, instead expert bodies were asked (eg JECFI 1980). When the result became available, WHO and others only endorsed such findings. The same is true for FDA inviting for comments on 'proposed rules' and after this condernsing the result into a decision. The main diffence, however, is that publications as JECFI 1980 stand on their own right as a scientific publication; whereas FDA is the reasoning founding a regulatory decision. Dieter E 18:23, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

”Wholesome” And “Safe”[edit]

I gather from Arveed Deecke’s comments that both of these words have specific technical meanings within the scientific literature. However, they also have meanings and connotations in English. It is appropriate to use “wholesome” and “safe” this general article for non-scientists only where the usual English definition of the word accurately represents the scientific meaning, or where the scientific usage is otherwise clarified. In this sense these terms are similar to “significant” in the sense of statistically significant, a word which must also be handled carefully.

The terminology of 'wholesome' was first defined by the Joint FAO/IAEA/WHO Expert Committee on Food Irradiation (JECFI), 1980, published as anon., Wholesomeness of irradiated food, WHO, Geneva, 1981, Technical Report Series 659. A review of this terminilogy is also found in F.F. Diehl, Safety of Irradiated Foods, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1995 (2nd ed.).
The terminology of 'safe' and 'secure' as used by WHO and others is singular to the English language; "to secure the supply of safe food" explains all.
Some terminology inevitably must be used for clarity of presentation! Dieter E 09:02, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

I don’t think we need to ban all scientific vocabulary; indeed, familiarizing the public with scientific terminology is a Good Thing. However, we need to proceed carefully with all such terms (wholesome, safe, tolerance, significant), adding clarifying remarks wherever necessary. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I looked up the definition of "wholesome" on and came back with the following result:
1. conducive to moral or general well-being; salutary; beneficial: wholesome recreation; wholesome environment.
2. conducive to bodily health; healthful; salubrious: wholesome food; wholesome air; wholesome exercise.
3. suggestive of physical or moral health, esp. in appearance.
4. healthy or sound.
While I think that the term is appropriate to describe food products that are nutrious, healthy and free of adverse effects, I will not get stuck on semantics either. RayosMcQueen 23:16, 24 July 2007 (UTC)


MonstretM noted that “one editor changed a section title from the more descriptive and neutral, ‘Loss of trace nutrients and changes to flavor/odor/texture’ to the more benign sounding, ‘Tolerance of food items to irradiation,’ which is an industry marketing term.”

“Tolerance”, like “wholesome” and “safe”, may or may not be a scientific term in this field with specific meaning – I don’t know. See the discussion about scientific terms above. Other than that, “Tolerance of food items to irradiation” may be read to imply that food items generally do not suffer when exposed when irradiated, but “Loss of trace nutrients and changes to flavor/odor/texture” is just as leading, in the other direction.

It seems to be clear that excessive irradiation will destroy food in various ways, and this could be noted, as per Arveed’s suggestion of “a simple table showing maximum doses and adverse effects seen beyond those doses.” However, if we do this we also need to note the ‘’usual’’ doses and discuss what happens then. After the body of the section is written and agreed on, we can work out a title which accurately reflects the contents. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Irradiation tolerance is the scientific term as I know it. We could deal with the dilemma you raise by calling the section "Maximum doses tolerated by different food items and adverse effects beyond those doses. We should also list permitted doses for each food group for perspective. RayosMcQueen 01:03, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Hmm. Now I'm not so sure if the table is the best approach -- does the average reader need all this technical information about maximum does that will never be applied to their food? Actually, I find the information currently there in the locked article to be much more relevant than the proposed chart; as usual, this is merely my opinion and I could be convinced otherwise --Jonathan Stray 00:53, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Remove Endorsements etc. From Technology Section?[edit]

Agreed. They definitely don’t belong there. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I also agree RayosMcQueen 23:09, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Create section on market and consumer acceptance?[edit]

First of all, I’m not sure if this is relevant to the article, though I am open to being convinced. If it is, how do we summarize it well? Unlike the scientific literature, there is no obvious place to go for well-researched overview. Should we put this under the (potential) "controversy" section? --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Consumer acceptance is an important question that many users of Wikipedia will be looking to find an answer two when reviewing the article. Maybe we can summarize with irradiation markets, what is out there, and how the markets responded. There are also many surveys that we could quote if the group feel that there is merit in doing so. RayosMcQueen 23:11, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Create “Organizations Endorsing Food Irradiation” section?[edit]

Organizations endorsing is probably relevant. I could be convinced either way. --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Create “controversy" section?[edit]

I think “controversy” may be a reasonable thing to include in the main article, as it certainly exists. However, we must be careful here that the Controversy section is itself NPOV. (see WP:NPOV section on Article Structure.) We also need to be clear on what the “controversy” section is for. Does scientific evidence on health issues belong there, or is this section just for societal and historical aspects of food irradiation? --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

The controversy, although maintained by a relatively small group of people is a reality associated with the technology. While it might be fine to not make mention to it if the group determines that there is really no sound reason for such controversy there are good reasons to include reference to it in a neutral well referenced way:
1) The Wikipedia user might have already come accross the controversy asking what the underlying issues are.
2) We will certainly expose the article to future edit wars if we do not include an explanation. Opponents of irradiation might find what we determine to be a neutral view, actually biased towards irradiation and what ever we come up with as a result of the current exercise should stand the test of time.
3) I am sure that other members in this mediation group will have a strong issue with elimination of any reference to people thinking differently than mainstream science.

Again Dr. Kathrine Sheas section on Controversy is very well written:

I strongly recommend that a founded section on 'controversies' is included. Of course, consumer concerns and arguments of advocacy groups must be covered. For example there is a need to elucidate, how opponents as Epstein and Hauter distort scientific findings, make selective scitations, spread half-truth and misinformation. A 'neutral' view must report on such disputes; however in a format and language that the average reader/the laymen can follow the argumentation. For example. there is always a 'residual risk' not yetz resolved by science. This must be properly explained and can not be denied. Dieter E 18:35, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Create section which discusses globalization, energy use in transport, etc?[edit]

Like “controversy”, these are not a problem with irradiation per se, but worth mentioning as irradiation is an enabling technology which could worsen these problems. Could we put this in with related discussion that currently exists in the “economics” section? Should we retitle that section? --Jonathan Stray 20:32, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Resolved Issues[edit]