Thursday, July 17, 2008

Science today - an easy way to lie to the public

“…We submit evidence on the hazards of GM to the government's scientific advisory committees again and again over the years, only to be met with bland denial and dismissal[1]. Fortunately, some good governments all over the world are taking heed, and are rejecting GM on account of uncertainty over safety…”

“…Two right-wing chemical industry supporters--Dennis Avery and Steven Milloy--have used the Public Health Service's announcement to claim that this invalidates all research on endocrine disruption. As ludicrous as that assertion is scientifically, their claims are a potential source of confusion for people who do not follow this issue closely. I have therefore posted below a detailed analysis of what they are claiming. Dennis Avery's commentary (see below) is a classic example of PR spinning that seizes upon an element of truth and then distorts it in ways to serve a larger purpose, in this case arguing to weaken standards that protect public health from pesticide exposures. Milloy is a fellow-traveler who has written similarly false assertions[2]…..”

Animal tests false reassurance[3]
“Animal tests on the kind of drug given to the six men ill in a London hospital may not be the best way of evaluating the effects in people, an expert warns. The drug they took stimulates a protein only found in humans…..”

“..No pesticide label signal word is present to guide users on toxicity, protective clothing and equipment. False and misleading statements[4] now occur on pesticide labels that confuse consumers. Labels providing the impression that the product is non-toxic are a grave concern as by default they encourage unnecessary human and environmental exposure…”

“..Also tolerated are biased viewpoints, including those linked to powerful vested interests[5]. Many scientists are employed by or receive research funds from companies or government bodies, and both expect and are expected to come up only with results useful to those bodies. Scientists receiving money from chemical companies to study pesticides seldom draw attention to the limitations or dangers of pesticides: they simply do studies within a framework which assumes that using pesticides is the appropriate thing to do. Physicists working on nuclear weapons design do not stray outside their narrow task. Engineers employed by automobile companies do not propose studies looking for safety problems or alternatives to the car [15].

[1]Puncturing the GM Myths. ISIS Press Release 08/04/04

[2] Analysing Dennis Avery's Misrepresentations. Our Stolen Future


[4] Submission, American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators

[5] 'Scientific fraud and the power structure of science', Brian Martin
Published in Prometheus, Vol. 10, No. 1, June 1992, pp. 83-98.


Bruce Webb said...

Brenda if you get a minute can you give us a little background. By following the footnote I confirm what I suspected that 'GM' is Genetic Modification (the confusion is that GM the car company's stock is all over the US financial news). And I am in total accord with the general point that industry scientists and engineers and even academics taking their grants can and do produce results in line with the desires of their employer/grantor, and from my 20 seconds of research via your footnotes strongly suspect I would put this guy Avery in that category.

But I have to say I remain a little mystified about what the relation between Genetic Modification and scientific study of endocrine disruption might be and moreover what your position is on the issue. The fact that certain pesticides might serve to disrupte endocrine levels at the glanduler and perhaps at the genetic level would not seem to bear directly on deliberate genetic modification. I can see possible paths where such lines could be drawn, but being even less of a biochemist than I am an economist would appreciate you helping me out by telling us where you personally see that line.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

Bruce said: "I remain a little mystified about what the relation between Genetic Modification and scientific study of endocrine disruption might be and moreover what your position is on the issue. ..."

Apologies if my post was a little vague for some readers. My position on both genetic modification and pesticides is the same for ALL fields of science. There has been a catastrophic decline in the quality of science being practiced across the globe and especially in all areas that are linked to profit-making and cost-savings. Economics is, of course, included.

A look at the context of this change makes me even more alarmed. The technologies employed are now so much more powerful and prone to catastrophic incidents. Government, as an institution, has declined to little more than a puppet regime for large vested interests. The mass of people face a media that provides a charicature of a world that never existed and never will; no warnings in sight of what is likely to come.