Local author crosses line

Dear Editor:

I just read the article: “Top 10 ingredients to avoid” (AFN Feb. 26). I really have to say something about it, because I feel the article crosses the line of responsibility for both the author and the newspaper itself.

One of the issues is self interest. Paula Owens is a business owner. It is in her interest to draw attention to her business, which she does indirectly by listing common ingredients and how harmful she believes them to be. The reader is left believing that all of these common ingredients are harmful, and is left looking for alternatives. Conveniently, the author then plugs her business Web site at the end of the article.

If a similar article was written by a senior staff member of a hospital, or other public health organization, it is assumed that the author is well researched and is using widely accepted studies as references. Such organizations comply with strict regulations and follow protocols of broad consensus set by mainstream organizations such as the American Medical Association. A private business owner has no such backing, and thus the bar must be held high for statements presented in an article that is not in the opinion section.

To press the issue even further, Owens practices holistic medicine, which, although popular, is considered “alternative medicine” and is met with considerable skepticism from the mainstream medical community. Such practices have a far weaker body of scientific study behind their practices than conventional medicine.

Having a B.S. in microbiology and currently working on a M.S. in forest ecology, I expect strong claims to be backed up with good research. The article in question is dealing with public health and makes bold claims against commonly used, FDA-approved ingredients.

In the case of this article, which appears in a non-opinion section of the paper and is written by a private business owner, I feel that such claims must be backed up with citations to the specific scientific studies and organizations from which these claims receive backing. Barring that (I know that space is precious in any newspaper), such information should be available as a Web link or by some other convenient means. The alternative is to not publish the article, which, in my opinion, would have been the responsible thing to do.

It is my opinion that the newspaper is represented by the claims its contributors make in articles that do not appear in the opinion section and/or are not followed by a disclaimer. When powerful statements are made against the status quo, such claims need to be made with the backing of good research, and such research should be made available to the reader in some way.

Without such qualifiers, the content of the article in question amounts to no more than an advertisement that uses fear mongering and sensationalism as a tool to draw attention to the author’s business.

Erik Nelson


Rename Village Planning Committee, Village Fundraising Committee

Dear Editor:

Funny what three months can bring. It appears with the removal of planners, architects, designers and community activists from the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee we are done planning the future of Ahwatukee, and can now become the Ahwatukee Foothills Fundraising Committee.

While events such as the Festival of Lights, Fourth of July Fireworks and Easter Parade are important to our community and have been a signature component of Ahwatukee, they fall outside the purview of the city and the AFVPC. Perhaps Councilman Sal DiCiccio should appoint another one of his community panels outside of the Village Planning Committee (similar to the South Mountain 202 Committee he pulled together) to do fundraising for these community events. DiCiccio’s concern and scrutinization of the financial structure of the city is well founded, and we can appreciate having a councilman who is challenging and working to find solutions to the city’s financial debacle. Thank you councilman for taking a stand.

There are still many planning issues that the Planning Committee should engage actively in: redevelopment and revitalization of strip malls, corners, housing areas, South Mountain 202 trail building to South Mountain Park, increasing walkability in our small community. The character of our community is not immune to possible changes in our urban fabric. We should be proactive about what is on the horizon for Ahwatukee and not just respond to the city’s directives.

The health and future of our community rests on many issues. Let the Village Planning Committee focus on community planning and growth-related issues. We have 85,000 residents in Ahwatukee who can be utilized for future leadership and fundraising activities. Certainly, DiCiccio can tap into more of his friends to fill his new committee.

Laurel Arndt

Member of the

AFVPC 1999-2009

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