Fault is found with report on dairy farming couple’s endorsement of homeopathy

Dr Grant Jacobs, a computational biologist, has critically examined a Fairfax NZ News article titled, Homeopathy key for dairy farming couple. It has been spread to other sites, including pro-homeopathy sites.

On his Code for Life blog, Jacobs asks if the information in the reports, as it was published, was worth sharing.

The story under examination tells of Piopio organic dairy farmers Nick and Jo Collins, who say they have found both personal and professional success in their holistic approach to farming, which includes decades-long use of homeopathy for animal health issues.

Milking 250 crossbred cows on 130 hectares effective, the Collins have been using homeopathy for all of their working lives and have had excellent results.

But Jacobs observes that the story offers no explanation of what homeopathy is or if it is a sound practice.

He also asks why there is no commentary from farming specialists – veterinarians or animal health experts – about the farm couple’s decision to embrace homeopathy.

Another issue is animal welfare and why this has not been considered in the article – or the ethics of using ineffective remedies on livestock.

Jacobs writes:

This article in Stuff reminds me of wider issues, in particular issues of quality control.

Media organisations, particularly as a consequence of cost-cutting measures, seem to be shedding responsibility for quality control, leaving it in the hands of general-beat journalists while the organisations remove specialist editing and specialist journalist posts that might offer better quality information.

He concludes: What should we do to ensure the soundness of news information then? Rely on science bloggers?

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