in Berkeley - Support in upcoming public hearing needed - Conflicted
Science : How Industry Corrupts Research - It's worse than you thought
- Science often manipulated to serve interests of whoever is paying for
it - To what extent has commercialization of science undermined science
itself ? - How corporate money has corrupted or stifled disciplines -
We can no longer trust what is presented to us as science - Messengers
for corporate interests - ACS remained silent about carcinogenic
chemicals used in most cosmetics - Purposeful cover-ups in lead,
asbestos, tobacco, oil, and food industries - Hog farming thwarts any
scientific investigation of its impact on neighboring communities -
Hog-farm waste seriously threatens health of mostly low-income
people-of-color communities - Hog farming supplies much of campaign
funding for members of legislature - Industry Weapons - Industries have
more tricks than simple economic pressure to stifle exposés - Tools
used by researchers digging for information hidden under corporate lock
- FOIA is used by industries to force premature disclosure of data to
be attacked as flawed before a study is ever completed - Internet is
now poised to become one more obstacle to investigators - Much evidence
gathered against industries that have polluted our environment and our
bodies has come from using the FOIA to uncover documents disclosing
industrial crimes - Paperless communication of Internet will render
FOIA useless because a paper trail will no longer exist - Abuses of
corporate money - Nearly impossible to find a scientist for peer review
not connected to industry - Objectivity of Western science is a
cultural cornerstone defended with the zeal of religious evangelism -
Culture increasingly fashioned by needs of global corporate capitalism
- More and more institutions are becoming handmaidens of the corporate
empire - Unrealistic to expect that science will remain untainted -
Silent Scourge tallies the toll of pollution on kids' brains - Dangers
of pollutant poses to child development - Children exposed to
pollutants experience consequences both subtle and profound -
Scientists can disagree about the scientific evidence without being
dishonest - Burden of proof in U.S. environmental policy was placed on
the polluted, not the polluter - There is no safe level of exposure -
Sound Effects - Continuous background noise can cause harm - Food
Quality? What’s That? (4/01/04)
Antennas in Berkeley,
I hope you are doing fine. I would like to ask for your support in our
upcoming public hearing on January 20, 2004. The City Council of
Berkeley will decide on Sprint base-station antennas at 1600 Shattuck
Ave after the hearing. In the past, you have been supportive and sent
e-mails to the Mayor and City Council Members to urge them to deny
permit to Sprint.
I would like to ask you to send them one more e-mail. Here are their
(Mayor Tom Bates)
PS. In case you know people who would send e-mails to our City
please forward my e-mail to them.
Conflicted Science: How
Industry Corrupts Research
Newsletter #79-November/December 2003
Conflicted Science: How Industry Corrupts
by Judy Brady
It's worse than you thought. Most of us who have been paying attention
in recent years are aware that science is often manipulated to serve
interests of whoever is paying for it. But a first-of-its-kind
conference last summer in Washington, D.C., laid it out.
"Conflicted Science," sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public
Interest (CSPI), was an intense daylong conference during which the
presenters addressed from their own experience the central question: To
what extent has the commercialization of science undermined science
Journalists, researchers, and university professors from a wide range
fields (from environmental planning to pediatrics to criminal justice)
recounted how corporate money has corrupted or stifled their
disciplines. Hearing similar stories from so many people, one after the
other, brought home a powerful and disturbing message: we can no longer
trust what is presented to us as "science," not even when it comes from
what appear to be independent sources. Nonprofit organizations, public
universities, and health charities, all too often dependent on
money, have become the messengers for corporate interests.
The American Cancer Society, for instance, got more than $100,000 in
2002 from each of nearly a hundred corporations, mostly drug, chemical,
and cosmetic companies. The ACS program "Look Good, Feel Better,"
by the perfume and cosmetics industries, is a good example of what
happens with such "partnerships." The ACS has remained silent about the
carcinogenic chemicals used in most cosmetics.
There were stories of purposeful cover-ups in the lead, asbestos,
tobacco, oil, and food industries, but one story stood out to this
city-bred attendee. Two presenters from the South, epidemiologist
Wing from the University of North Carolina and JoAnn Burkholder,
professor of aquatic biology from North Carolina State University, gave
graphic and fascinating accounts of how a particular industry in their
state, hog farming, thwarts any scientific investigation of its impact
on neighboring communities-because if there's no noise, there's no
problem. These CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) are not the
independent businesses they claim to be but are, in fact, owned by huge
corporations that control all aspects of hog farming. Called "family
farms" for tax purposes, the CAFOs produce five tons of animal fecal
waste per person per year (a human being produces about 80 pounds of
waste a year). When there is any public outcry about the waste dumps,
it's because of the terrible stench.
You can imagine how unpleasant it would be to live downwind from a
hog-farm waste pool, but they do more than just stink. That waste,
dumped into huge lagoons covering acres of land, contaminates the air
and seeps into water supplies (most people depend on well water) as
as streams used for subsistence fishing, seriously threatening the
health of the mostly low-income people-of-color communities that
workers for the CAFOs.1 Hog farming is one of North Carolina's biggest
industries, so there is no official attention paid to the steep price
extracted from the animals, the workers, and the surrounding
for those huge hog-farm profits.
The hog-farm industry responded to Wing's research by demanding to know
the names of people interviewed with health questionnaires, on which he
based his findings. He and his team had promised the respondents
confidentiality (they are the workers on those hog farms), and he could
not betray that trust; both he and the industry knew that such a
betrayal would mean no one in a community would ever again be available
for epidemiological research. Finally, after many legal maneuverings,
threats, and counterthreats, Wing was forced to turn over the
questionnaires, but he managed to delete the identifying information
When asked how the university reacted to his investigation of and
publications about the hog industry, Wing said his job is often on the
line. The university gets its money from the state, allocated to it by
the state legislature. The members of the legislature get elected to
office by the power of corporate campaign contributions. Hog farming is
a huge and lucrative industry and therefore supplies much of that
Industries have more tricks than simple economic pressure to stifle
exposés. Tools customarily used by researchers digging for information
hidden under corporate lock and key now serve corporate management in
its efforts to foil science.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), for instance, is used by
industries to force the premature disclosure of data so that the data
can be attacked as flawed before a study is ever completed. And the
bastion of information gathering, which most of us have considered a
powerful and indestructible weapon-the Internet-is now poised to become
one more obstacle to investigators. Much of the evidence gathered
against industries that have polluted our environment and our bodies
come from using the FOIA to uncover documents disclosing industrial
crimes and proving that industry honchos knew they were engaged in
criminal acts. But today's paperless communication of the Internet will
render the FOIA useless because a paper trail will no longer exist.
What are scientists to do? While most of the conference highlighted the
abuses of corporate money, there were also attempts to propose
solutions. None of the solutions offered, however, were really up to
challenge. Among the suggestions:
Universities should have ombudsmen onboard to help researchers being
pressured by industry Policymakers must implement the precautionary
principle. The media should refer to scientists who act on behalf of
industry as "academic entrepreneurs," not simply as "scientists".
The definition of "scientific misconduct" should be broadened to
industry-funded scientists influencing public policy.
Most people advocated stricter disclosure policies for journals and
scientific advisory boards, yet major medical journals have recently
relaxed their disclosure policies because it's nearly impossible to
a scientist for peer review who is not connected to an industry.
Further, there's no way to force complete disclosure, so disclosure
policies really boil down to a voluntary procedure.
The outrage expressed by the presenters and the audience stemmed
generally from the perceived threat to the objectivity of science
through the infusion of corporate money. Belief in the "objectivity" of
Western science is a cultural cornerstone, and it is defended with the
zeal of religious evangelism.
Yet Wing pointed out that what we call science was invented, as he
by wealthy white males, and it reflects the racism, sexism, and other
cultural biases of the society that nurtures it. That culture is
increasingly fashioned by the needs of global corporate capitalism, so
that more and more institutions, from agriculture to education and
government, are becoming handmaidens of the corporate empire. While
there are certainly pockets of resistance in science as in other
of modern life, it is unrealistic to expect that science will remain
Neil Munro, a journalist with the National Journal, remarked that we
might as well bump the science column over to the business pages, since
that's where much of it really belongs. For those of us working to end
the cancer epidemic, recognizing the reality of "conflicted science"
means cultivating a constantly critical eye.
TAKE ACTION: Get informed! Visit the CSPI's web site for conflicts of
interest in science. http://www.cspinet.org/integrity/
1 See Steve Wing's article, "Social Responsibility and Research Ethics
Community-Driven Studies of Industrialized Hog Production"
Health Perspectives, May 2002.
Omega: same conflicts of interest in science with research on hazards
through EMF pollution!
CHILDREN AT ENVIRONMENTAL
RISK (Part 1)
this story confirms much of the problems with children, chemicals and
Best, Richard Giles
Colleen Moore's Silent Scourge tallies the toll of pollution on kids'
by Erik Ness
15 Dec 2003
Attention, parents: Now that you've seen your kids' first
of the year, it's time for a little homework of your own. No
you're doing the best you can to ensure your little ones'
membership in Mensa -- promoting stimulating dinner conversation,
reading a chapter together each night, maybe even playing Mozart
bath time. But wait -- there's more. You'll find your next
in the pages of Colleen Moore's Silent Scourge: Children, Pollution,
Why Scientists Disagree .
Silent Scourge, By Colleen Moore
Oxford University Press, 328 pages, 2003
You probably already know that lead is not an appropriate component of
any cerebral calisthenics program. But nor is it the only pollutant
can stunt intellectual development. In Silent Scourge, Moore, a
developmental psychologist, reviews the case against lead and five
additional types of pollutants -- mercury, PCBs, pesticides, noise, and
radioactive and chemical wastes.
With the possible exception of noise, most people recognize these
pollutants as harmful and wouldn't actively incorporate them into K-12
curriculums or meal plans. But that doesn't mean we've got the
information -- or power -- to protect kids from them. Each of
pollutants has been the object of protracted debate, the kind of
media-moderated, he-said/she-said dispute that frequently leaves us
worn down than wised up. Moore cuts through the confusion, using lay
language to explain the dangers each pollutant poses to child
development, including intellectual function, behavior, emotional
and overall physical and psychological well-being.
No kidding: Pollution is bad for young'uns.
Her conclusion: Children exposed to these pollutants -- which is to
all children, to one degree or another -- experience consequences both
subtle and profound. "These types of pollution are usually silent and
insidious," she writes. "The effects ... are revealed by carefully
constructed psychological assessments of memory, attention, learning,
motor skills, intelligence, personality, emotion, and other
Moore is painstakingly fair, which, as any reality-TV producer can tell
you, eliminates much of the potential for crowd-pleasing drama. She's
tried hard to be evenhanded in her explication of the science. Perhaps
most important, she explains one of the great mysteries of
public-policy debate: how "scientists can disagree about the scientific
evidence without being dishonest."
In answering that question, Moore doesn't point her finger at outright
corruption, corporate influence, or political manipulation, though
certainly can be complicating factors. Rather, she reports,
can disagree without being dishonest simply by "applying different
Does the science add up?
Decision standards determine how science gets used in the policy
equation. This takes us back to lead again, and to 1926, when
then-Surgeon General Hugh Cummings had to decide whether to allow the
use of lead additives in gasoline. Using an early version of one
decision standard, the precautionary principle, public-health advocates
argued that the lead additive should be banned until it was shown to be
safe. Industry countered with the so-called Kehoe Paradigm:
lead should be allowed unless and until it is shown to be a health
hazard ... because there are benefits of its use" and uncertainty about
effects. Industry won, with the result that lead wasn't removed from
gasoline until the 1970s. But perhaps the more important outcome was
that the burden of proof in U.S. environmental policy was placed
squarely on the polluted, not the polluter.
Nearly 80 years later, the rap sheet on lead is fairly complete, and
quite damning. Even as Silent Scourge was hitting bookstores, a new
study came out refuting the long-held belief that children can handle
small amounts of lead. As Richard Canfield of Cornell University told
the Los Angeles Times, "There is no safe level of exposure."
So what's the verdict on these other "silent scourges"? Forget
verdicts, Moore says; we're still awaiting evidence: "Where are we now
in the study of pesticides and children's behavioral development?
Basically we are in the 1940s. ... I have been unable to find any
studies that follow up child pesticide poisoning victims to see how
perform in school later. There has not even been good research to see
there is a link between current exposures to pesticides and
neurobehavioral functioning in children."
Moore believes that the lack of research has to do with a widespread
belief that low-level exposure to pesticides is safe.
Environmental-justice issues may also be at work: Those children most
likely to be exposed to pesticides are poor and minority kids living in
inner cities or agricultural areas.
Perhaps the most ear-opening science in Moore's book deals with one of
the most common pollutants in the educational system: noise. Thousands
of U.S. schools -- many of them in lower income areas -- are built near
roads or rails, or in the flight paths of low-flying planes. According
to national survey data, at any given time, one in seven children in a
classroom has a temporary hearing loss of 16 decibels or greater, most
likely from a head cold or ear infection. If any additional factor
degrades the sound environment, those children simply can't hear what's
Can you hear me now?
Most people know that particularly loud noises can damage hearing, but
continuous background noise can also cause harm. The best research so
far on this topic was done in 1973 and concerned a high-rise public
housing project built over I-95 in Manhattan. The researchers
the reading levels of children who lived on the bottom floors, close to
traffic noise, with those who lived higher up, where the noise was not
as loud. All the children went to the same schools, and the income
restrictions for eligibility to live in the project helped control for
economic and educational backgrounds (which have by far the most
significant effect on children's scholastic achievement). For those
children who had lived in the apartments for at least four years,
approximately 20 percent of the difference in reading scores could be
predicted simply from their floor number.
Noise affects not just cognitive performance, like reading ability, but
also mental health and such anxiety responses as annoyance, blood
pressure, and stress hormone secretion. "Hearing other people talk is
critical to children's early language development," Moore explains.
"Memory and performance can be impaired because of the extra effort
required to decipher speech [when there is significant background
noise]. Mood can also become more negative, and the person feels tired
Omega: read further under
Same problems and effects through EMF pollution, similar to noise
Informant: Don Maisch
Food Quality? What’s That?
Ashcroft Recuses Self From CIA Leak Probe
The Bush Family Fortunes
Paul Krugman: Our So-Called Boom
The Greatest Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself
A citizen's duty is to ferret out the truth
Pentagon freezes Iraq funds amid corruption probes
What Ever Happened To Peace On Earth?
Lessons from America’s fiscal recklessness
Bush is author of dark chapter for America
The Lie Factory
From Information Clearing House
I have a dream
by Lady Liberty
Does God want Bush reelected?
There are no neocons in foxholes
No good deed -- on US foreign policy
Informant: Thomas L. Knapp
A Soldier's Return, to a Dark and Moody World
WITH A WHISPER, NOT A BANG
Informant: Dissident Voice