Dubious device goes unquestioned in Herald rat poison article

EAV deviceA page 6 article yesterday in the NZ Herald on Sunday featured claims by a Waiheke Island advocacy group that samples of marine life had tested positive for traces of poisons used for pest control.

An excerpt:

“Sarah Silverstar of Ocean Aware says the samples of marine birds, oysters and dog vomit, taken from Waiheke and Rangitoto Islands, were tested in an Auckland clinic by EAV machine and all were found to contain brodifacoum and, to a lesser degree, 1080.”

The article fails to give any indication of what an EAV machine might be, and reports its alleged “findings” essentially as fact. The Science Media Centre decided to do a little background research.

EAV stands for “Electroacupuncture according to Voll”. The device, which measures the electric resistance of a patient’s skin, was invented in the 1950s by  Reinhard Voll, a German physician who experimented with acupuncture. It is used by naturopaths and other alternative medicine practitioners to help them diagnose various diseases, imbalances and allergies, among other things.

People who use these devices claim that it measures “bioenergy” and “energy imbalances” within the body. It is often used in conjunction with homeopathic remedies.

It is difficult to see how this type of device could be useful in analysing samples taken from dead sea birds or the other materials listed above. It is equally difficult to understand how a journalist working for a major news publication could imply that this provides credible evidence of the presence of 1080 or brodifacoum, evidence that could be stacked up alongside the results of scientific testing.

The article offers the following as a counterpoint to the claims:

“…independent scientists have carried out extensive testings and determined none of the deaths [of marine animals found on Auckland beaches] were caused by brodifacoum. [Department of Conservation] spokeswoman Nicola Vallance said the department offered to have independent scientists test Silverstar’s samples, but she declined and had them tested at a private clinic by EAV machine.”

Unfortunately this does little to dispel the impression that scientists and “scientific” evidence are involved on both sides of this divisive issue.

To speak to a toxicologist, ecologist or other scientist on the issues raised here, contact the SMC on 04 499 5476 or smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz

For more information on EAV see the following links:

Quack “electrodiagnostic” devices – Quackwatch

EAV – a Canadian practitioner

Electroacupuncture according to Voll – Google Knol
(NB: “scientific publications”  referenced in this article are largely from non-peer-reviewed sources and journals of naturopathy or acupuncture)

Alternative medicine in New Zealand – EAV clinic

EAV in New Zealand – claims from an allergy testing service


Dr Wayne Temple, Director of the National Poisons Centre, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago comments:

“The National Poison Centre does not support the use of EAV testing since it is a methodology which has not been scientifically validated.

“Electroacupuncture testing or EAV testing as it is sometimes called is not new and has been around since the 1970’s. The test was created by a German M.D, Reinhold Voll. Though popular in some parts of Europe it is yet to gain acceptance or be validated by much of the mainstream medical community. EAV testing is considered unconventional and will most often be used by those who practice homeopathy or naturopathy. The EAV test is attractive to people who are into alternative medicine.

“EAV Testing requires use of a special instrument to measure galvanic skin response and is based on the theory of Chinese acupuncture in that the body contains meridians that energy flows throw. The theory is that food and chemical insensitivity’s will change the level of energy flow. A probe is held in one hand while another probe is place on a acupuncture point, making a circuit. Various vials of allergens like foods and chemicals can be placed in the measuring device as well as controls. The tester records any changes and interprets the results. Some practitioners make very wild claims about EAV testing and what it is capable of diagnosing.

The US FDA has banned importation of EAV devices into the United States and warned or prosecuted a few marketers.”

To follow up with Dr Temple or other experts, contact the SMC on 04 499 5476 or smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz