We are reproducing an article by Francesco Degli Innocenti, a member of the Assobioplastiche Scientific Technical Committee, which examines the recent spate of articles accusing biodegradable plastics of insufficient biodegradation and of having toxic effects. By debunking these claims, Degli Innocenti aims to show that the alarmist tone of these articles is unjustified.
A number of scientific articles have been published in recent months providing alarmist warnings about the risks of biodegradable plastics, claiming that they do not degrade sufficiently or that they have toxic effects. Bioplastics have been described as a “false promise”. But is this information reliable? In our experience, in spite of a press release which claims to “uncover the dark side of bioplastics”, a careful analysis of the original scientific article shows that the data is not at all alarming.
In fact, by debunking these articles (which unfortunately, given their scientific content, is not an option for everyone), it becomes clear that the alarmist tone is not supported by the data. Therefore, why is preliminary scientific data being amplified in the mass media and turned into a media scandal? The explanation lies in the fact that nowadays, in the academic world, there is great competition in universities and between universities for positions, funding and students. To come out on top, it is necessary to publish many articles and ensure they are widely cited; in other words, what’s important is visibility. This situation has inevitably escalated, so much so that many universities have press offices with expertise in attracting media attention.
This dysfunction is gaining ground in the contemporary academic world, and was recently described as the pathology of hype, hyperbole and publication bias, which has been analysed in an attempt to find solutions. Recently, the use biodegradable products in farming has been targeted as the latest victim of this pathology. The article below debunks a number of studies with a critical analysis demonstrating that the alarmist tone is not justified by the data produced.
Source: Eco dalle Città
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