The American Chemistry Council, the trade association of the chemical industry, has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences "to improve testing chemicals for potential human developmental and reproductive effects," according to a July 26 NIEHS press release.
A new UK environmental group called the Scientific Alliance has formed "in response to the growing concern that the debate on the environment has been distorted by extreme pressure groups," reports The Guardian.
The credibility of university research is on the line as corporations step up their funding. One issue is academic freedom. Corporations that fund university research often demand the right to control what scientists can say publicly about their work. "They're like bullies in a sandbox who take away their toys when you don't agree with them," says David Kahn, a researcher at the University of California-San Francisco who was sued for $10 million by the company that sponsored his study, after he published a report that the AIDS drug he was testing was ineffective.
When it comes to science about your health, the Financial Post of Canada turns to the industry-funded American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) as its guru. In its "3rd Annual Junk Science Week," the Financial Post defends "smog, genetically modified foods, business, government & science, pesticides & diesel." Yum. For the real dope on ACSH, read PR Watch, vol. 5, no. 4.
The Christian Science Monitor quotes industry mouthpiece Steven Milloy in defense of the Bush administration's decision to scrap regulations limiting arsenic in drinking water. "Over the last 40 years, and accelerating over the last 20, science has become very political in Washington," Milloy complains. Somehow the Monitor fails to mention that Milloy himself is a Washington policy wonk, not a scientist, who spends his days politicizing science and harassing researchers in defense of corporate polluters.
This article examines attempts in England to establish a "press council" that would control what reporters are allowed to write about issues involving science and product safety, particularly in regard to genetically modified foods. Mae-Wan Ho and Jonathan Mathews report on the seamless way in which the corporations, the state and the scientific establishment are co-ordinating their efforts to suppress scientific dissent and force feed the world with GM crops.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has posted on the Internet a database of more than 1,100 professors and scientists who consult for or have other affiliations with chemical, gas, oil, food, drug, and other companies. The web site also provides partial information about nonprofit and professional organizations that receive industry funding. The well-documented database is part of CSPI's Integrity in Science project and is designed for activists, journalists, policy makers, and others who are concerned about potential conflicts of interest.
Less than one percent of the 60,000 articles published during 1997 in 181 peer-reviewed science and medical journals with conflict of interest policies contained any disclosure of the authors' personal financial interests, according to a study by professors Sheldon Krimsky and L.S. Rosenberg which was published in the April 2001 issue of Science and Engineering Ethics.
The food industry used an absurdly contrived "experiment" to prove that parents should let their kids eat junk foods in a study published in the June 1999 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The food-industry researchers taunted preschoolers by displaying an item of junk food while forbidding them to eat it. After five days of this treatment, they found, the kids' desire for the food item had increased.