The gentleman above is Dr. Gagik G. Melikyan. He has written a book called Guilty Until Proven Innocent which I am aware of thanks to a review in Chemical & Engineering News. I have not read this book and probably never will, but it appears to be an extreme expression of the chemophobia of our times.
According to the review, Dr. Melikyan thinks that "consuming some substances found in nature can be as detrimental to the human body as exposure to hazardous synthetic compounds" and that "people should question the veracity of claims that certain “natural” products will improve their health or extend their lives."
I agree with that. Every substance encountered in the universe is a chemical (to quote Wikipedia.) Most, but not all, of the modern fear of "man made" chemicals is tree-hugging hippy crap rooted in scientific ignorance and appeals to nature. Such fears are particularly widespread in Prof. Melikyan's stomping ground of Californ-i-a. He, however, appears to be more fearful of natural chemicals than of the manmade variety, and he is prepared to take the precautionary principle to ludicrous extremes.
Melikyan firmly backs the notion of precaution, especially in the case of natural products that are complex mixtures of chemicals.
And that includes such everyday items as coffee...
He even examines an aqueous mixture that is almost sacred to many: coffee. He dares argue that people should forgo drinking java until scientists can show explicitly and independently that every chemical in coffee and all metabolites are safe for long-term consumption. He brushes off people’s passion for coffee. “There was life before coffee, and there will be life after it,” Melikyan states.
Such a task could easily take centuries. According to this (not necessarily authoritative) source, there are around a thousand chemicals in a cup of coffee, and proving total safety is not a simple matter. As coffee has been used for millennia, couldn't we just take its safety and efficacy as read? Apparently not, and tea doesn’t get a pass either.
“I am concerned that tea, a physiologically active natural extract, is made readily available to the general public,” he writes. “Maybe its consumption should be more restricted, more controlled, and scientifically monitored?”
As I mentioned, Dr. Melikyan is a resident of California and has absorbed the prohibitionist mentality of the Golden State.
Melikyan’s attacks on coffee and tea are just a warm-up for his mind-boggling policy conclusions, which he acknowledges will invite intense criticism.
"Fools! I'll destroy them all!"
"Once we have established the structures of all food compounds, their behavior inside the human body, the metabolic pathways, the structures of compounds enzymatically formed inside the body, and their physiological properties, we, as a society, can rest assured knowing that the products that constitute the bulk of the consumer basket are truly safe for consumption."
Note how "we, as a society" has become indistinguishable from "I, as a fruitcake".
The dose makes the poison, my friends. Forget that, and madness reigns.