Sunday, December 18, 2005

Opening the Black Box of Corporate/EPA science

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According to the U.S. EPA, about 5 billion pounds of pesticides were used in the U.S. in 2001. And researchers estimate only 1 to 2 percent of agricultural applications reach their target pest.

Today, each new active ingredient must pass more than 100 safety tests to be legally registered. (Despite the fact that inert ingredients, which can constitute up to 99.9 percent of the total, can be just as toxic, tests are mandated only for [the tiny portion of proclaimed] active ingredients [even though the inactive ingredients can be active in other ways like allowing wider permeability of other toxins through skin for example.])

All 'experiments' are completed by the manufacturers. None of it is peer reviewed. Some of it is clearly rigged to get rubbestamped by the EPA that fails to do their own tests.

EPA intentionally designed to be without the authority to set pollution standards--despite having oversight over pollution--supposedly...actually, such pollution standards are thrown into the heavily corrupted conflicts of interest in the Food and Drug Administration, noted in the vaccine story posted here.

It's mentioned in the bioregional state book that upwards of 80% of the United States--with little differences between Democratic or Republican voters with addictions to either of these ever so similar parties--want to see their environmental laws strictly enforced and even strengthened.

Opening the black box of corrupt corporate science is required for that, perhaps making all corporate science go through peer review publication. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

Do It Yourself
A worried mother discovers the secrets of pesticide testing
By Audrey Schulman
01 Dec 2005

Three years ago, while my extended family was vacationing at my dad's cranberry farm, he mentioned that one of his fields would be sprayed that evening. There were five children under 10 in the house, and I was eight months pregnant. The field was 100 feet away. I asked my dad about the pesticides, but he said, "Don't worry. The government runs tests on the chemicals. They make sure they're safe."

That night, through a closed window, I watched the plane rumble low over the field, the fog behind it drizzling softly to the ground. Behind me, in the house, the kids laughed and called, playing hide-and-seek. I started wondering about these tests.

I decided to do a little research. According to the U.S. EPA, about 5 billion pounds of pesticides were used in the U.S. in 2001. And researchers estimate only 1 to 2 percent of agricultural applications reach their target pest. Not surprisingly, these toxins can be found in almost every stream -- and in most Americans' bloodstreams.

This country's heavy reliance on synthetic pesticides is fairly new. We're still on a learning curve that began in the 1940s. Around then, partially spurred on by chemical-warfare research, the new industry began to churn out products designed to kill everything from fungi to rodents. Until the 1960s, these toxins were tested mainly to make sure they were effective. But since Silent Spring, people have become increasingly wary about their health effects. Today, each new active ingredient must pass more than 100 safety tests to be legally registered. (Despite the fact that inert ingredients, which can constitute up to 99.9 percent of the total, can be just as toxic, tests are mandated only for active ingredients.)

At the EPA website, I found a seemingly thorough list of tests that examined chemicals' effects on birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates, and plants. These tests checked for storage stability, residue on food, soil absorption, and short-term toxicity, as well as carcinogenic effects, prenatal harm, and damage to human fertility and genetic material. As I scanned the categories, a knot of worry inside me began to relax.

Until I learned all these experiments are completed by the manufacturers.

I called EPA press officer Enesta Jones, who said she had no problem with manufacturers overseeing safety experiments. Since the EPA is responsible for pesticide registration, she explained, it conducts compliance investigations, has developed strict guidelines, and reviews all data to ensure its integrity. (The agency's role does not include enforcement of the tolerance levels it establishes, a duty that falls to the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture.)

Now, I've always been impressed with science, which seems to be one of the few fields that hasn't recently suffered some large scandal. Good science is based on transparency. Breakthroughs are reported in peer-reviewed journals, and experiments can be reenacted to verify the results. The openness of the system creates a consensus that heads toward truth.

Unfortunately, pesticide-safety experimentation is not transparent.

Although the analyses are performed by professional scientists, the results are often reported only to the EPA. They are rarely published in peer-reviewed journals, and must often be requested through the Freedom of Information Act, a process that can take years.

To get an idea of what's behind the curtain, consider the findings of Tyrone Hayes. A professor of developmental endocrinology at the University of California-Berkeley, Hayes published an article in BioScience (yes, it's peer-reviewed) in which he compared several previous experiments performed by others on the effect of atrazine on frogs' sexual differentiation. Seven of the studies performed on this popular corn pesticide were paid for by Syngenta, the manufacturer; nine others were funded by independent sources. Every one of the Syngenta-funded studies concluded that atrazine did not affect amphibian gonads, while all but one of the independent studies found that the chemical did have an effect, sometimes at the level of one-tenth part per billion in water. That's a stunningly small amount -- about the same as dropping one tablespoon in almost 40 million gallons.

The Syngenta studies didn't falsify data; they were simply designed to find "no effect," by exposing both the control and experimental groups to enough atrazine to affect their gonads. This type of testing isn't criminal. It's just bad science.

And here's more: last year, Alan Lockwood, professor of neurology and nuclear medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo, published an analysis in the (peer-reviewed) American Journal of Public Health of the pesticide tests on humans that he could get access to through FOIA. In one, the consent form implied that the pesticide -- a known neurotoxin -- might make the subjects smarter. It didn't mention the actual possibilities of vomiting, convulsions, or death. In another, when four of six participants got sick and had to drop out, the experimenters based their positive results on the two remaining subjects. Lockwood said all the studies had "serious ethical or scientific deficiencies -- or both."

The idea of testing on human volunteers, halted in 1998, has resurfaced thanks to industry pressure and a "sympathetic ear" in the form of EPA administrator Stephen Johnson. But the notion still has powerful opponents -- Johnson's confirmation was blocked until he cancelled a plan to study pesticides' effects on low-income children -- and controversy has surrounded EPA's draft rules on such tests, released this fall. A public-comment period on the rules ends [ended] Dec. 12.

The son I was pregnant with when the cranberry bog was sprayed has developed slowly in different ways. He started talking so late the state sent a speech therapist over to tutor him. My older son, who was also there, can't draw. He's 5 now and gets frustrated trying to make even a stick figure. The one time he tried to draw me, it looked like an amoeba with three eyes.

Does this have to do with drifting pesticides? I can't tell you. None of us will know for sure the effects of these chemicals until there's good science involved -- science that isn't funded and reported by the very people making the chemicals in the first place.



Blogger Mark said...

Medical researchers caught faking it
Federal grant recipients

Margaret Munro, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, March 16, 2006
Article tools

More than a dozen scientists and doctors, several of them recipients of sizable [Canadian] federal grants, have been faking research, destroying data, plagiarizing or conducting experiments on people without necessary ethics approvals, the country's lead research agencies report.

One medical researcher, who was awarded $1,347,445 for various projects, fabricated and falsified data and was permanently barred last year from receiving more federal money, according to documents obtained by CanWest News Service.

Another researcher altered and destroyed data and cannot apply for funding for three years.

A third researcher, who engaged in "academic dishonesty in publication," has been barred from receiving more federal research money until next year.

Officials at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) say they cannot, under federal privacy laws, identity the researchers.

But CIHR says it awarded more than $12-million to projects in which researchers have been found to be violating research ethics or integrity rules since 2003.

They worked at Dalhousie University, McGill University, McMaster University, Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, Universite de Montreal, and Universite de Sherbrooke.

No effort has been made to recoup the funds.

The $1.3-million awarded to the researcher permanently barred from applying for CIHR funding has been transferred to his research partners, says Dr. Mark Bisby, the agency's vice-president.

CIHR and NSERC distribute almost $1.5-billion tax dollars a year to close to 16,000 researchers and thousands more graduate students across the country.

Four Vancouver research projects, part of studies that received more than $3-million in federal grants, did not have ethics renewal certificates required under federal rules.

The researchers stopped enrolling patients in one trial and funding for the other projects, which UBC says were behavioural studies, was suspended until the certificates were in place.

Minutes of CIHR meetings show officials talked about freezing funding to all UBC researchers but CIHR officials decided against making the threat.

John Hepburn, UBC vice-president of research, said this week that cutting off all UBC funding -- which he likened to "the atomic-bomb threat" -- would have been "a grotesque overreaction."

He said it was not necessary since the university was anxious to resolve the problem.

He said UBC has spent several million dollars to improve the management and effectiveness of its ethics review process and remains committed to having the the best process in the country.

Under Canadian rules allegations of research misconduct received by CIHR are forwarded to the university where the alleged misconduct occurred. The university is asked to investigate and report back to CIHR, which has the power to freeze projects and bar researchers from receiving more research money.

American authorities appear to take a more direct approach.

Last year, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity tracked down Dr. Eric Poehlman at the Universite de Montreal and charged him with faking research on menopausal women between 1992 and 2002.

Dr. Poehlman moved from Vermont to Montreal in 2001 and subsequently received more than $1-million in Canadian research funds.

Dr. Poehlman's job at the Universite de Montreal was terminated in January, 2005. He pleaded guilty in March, 2005, in what U.S. investigators called the worst case of scientific fakery in two decades.

U.S. investigators also revealed in 2003 that University of Alberta researcher Jianhua (James) Xu had been sneaking into a lab and doctoring experiments and altering results of a project funded by a U.S. agency. The university fired Mr. Xu, and U.S. authorities ruled that he had engaged in "significant" scientific misconduct and barred him from receiving U.S. funding for four years.

CIHR has also complained that its investigations are hampered by government secrecy and unco-operative universities.

The documents released by CIHR reveal universities, in some cases, have let misconduct investigations drag on so long that researchers accused of faking results or unethical conduct had moved on to new jobs or left the country.

Health Canada also refuses to share information that can be key to misconduct cases, according to the documents.

Health Canada is bound by privacy laws and is limited in the information it can share, says Jirina Vlk, a Health Canada media officer.

But she said the department is working with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to "facilitate the flow of information."


4/05/2006 6:56 AM  
Blogger Mark said...


FDA's Own Scientists Describe
Intimidation Of Big Pharma
Your Media Ignores Public Safety To
Protect Monsanto And Big Pharma

From Dr. Betty Martini,D.Hum.

FDA's own scientists report pattern of intimidation, censorship and scientific fraud that undermines public safety.

In a truly astonishing survey just released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Food and Drug Administration's own scientists describe the agency as an environment of intimidation, censorship and scientific fraud. A survey of 997 FDA scientists revealed that forty percent feared "retaliation" for voicing safety concerns over prescription drugs in public.

Over one-third of the scientists didn't even feel safe expressing safety concerns inside the agency, behind closed doors!

Intimidation and censorship have been well documented at the FDA, and this survey adds further weight to the evidence that the FDA has been utterly co-opted by the pharmaceutical industry and now serves Big Pharma's commercial interests rather than anything resembling a commitment to honest science or public safety

Time and time again, it has been the courageous actions of independent FDA scientists, taking a stand despite intense intimidation and censorship from the agency's top officials, who have warned the U.S. public about dangerous prescription drugs like Vioxx.

Literally tens of millions of Americans have been harmed by FDA negligence over the last decade, and well over one million have been killed by FDA-approved prescription drugs -- many of which were approved based on fraudulent scientific data the FDA conveniently chose to overlook.

Through its abandonment of public safety and scientific integrity, the FDA has now become the single greatest threat to the health and safety of the American people, dwarfing any threat posed by terrorists.

The FDA's nuclear bomb

Imagine a nuclear bomb detonating over Seattle, Washington. A hundred thousand citizens might be instantly killed, and two million (or more) could be seriously injured from the fallout. As horrific as that image may seem, this is what happens in America every single year from prescription drugs under the watch of the FDA.

Allowing the FDA to continue operating as it does today kills as many Americans as detonating a nuclear weapon over a major U.S. city each year.

And yet most lawmakers and government officials pretend the big threat to the safety of Americans is found somewhere else, in a foreign land, rather than right here at home.

If anyone in the Bush Administration really cared about protecting the lives of Americans, they would summon the military to surround the FDA and start arresting the criminal-minded officials who run the agency. It is time to hold FDA decision makers accountable for the chemical warfare they have waged against the American public, and at the same time set free the honest FDA scientists so they can tell the truth without fear of being silenced.

Scientific fraud is routine at the FDA

Because right now, many of those scientists are being routinely intimidated to alter their conclusions in order to fit the political agenda of top FDA officials.

A shocking 18.4 percent of scientists surveyed report that they "...have been asked, for non-scientific reasons, to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information or their conclusions in a FDA scientific document."

In this environment of such scientific fraud, reported first-hand by FDA scientists, to imagine that our system of drug approvals has anything to do with "evidence-based medicine" is nothing short of preposterous.

All the billions of dollars in advertising, propaganda, donations to politicians and bribery of doctors can't cover up the sobering truth: The drug industry today is a massive criminal enterprise operating in broad daylight, and the FDA is its chief enforcer.

It has nothing to do with honesty, integrity or even health, but everything to do with generating obscene profits, exploiting patients and controlling information through intimidation.

Sixty-one percent of the respondents, the survey results show, knew of cases where "Department of Health and Human Services or FDA political appointees have inappropriately injected themselves into FDA determinations or actions."

Is it really any surprise? The politicians are running the FDA, and crimes against the American people (which would be considered terrorism or treason if committed by anyone else) are routinely overlooked.

Lame proposals for reform don't cut it

Across the nation, to anyone who has been paying attention, we're beyond the point of realizing that something needs to be done about the FDA.

But every proposal I've seen so far falls short of solving the problem. They're little more than a collection of wimpy wrist slaps that try to force the FDA to act with integrity while ignoring the culture of corruption and criminal-minded behavior that characterizes the agency's top officials.

These prescriptions for reforming the FDA mirror conventional medicine's flawed philosophy, by the way, by focusing on treating symptoms while ignoring the root causes of disease.

At the FDA, the continued pattern of scientific fraud, intimidation and censorship is only a symptom of a deeper, fundamental problem: The fact that top FDA officials are, in fact, corrupt, criminal-minded bureaucrats who are responsible for the deaths of countless Americans.

You can't cure this cancer by treating its symptoms; you have to get rid of the cause of the cancer.

We don't merely need reform, we need prosecutions. We need to hold these FDA officials accountable for their crimes against the children, adults and senior citizens of this country who have been needlessly harmed (and killed) by prescription drugs that the FDA absolutely knew were dangerous.

We are not talking about crimes of money here. This isn't some Martha Stewart insider stock trading scandal, or even an Enron-class hoodwinking of shareholders

The damage done by the FDA is way beyond the realm of finances. Our family members are dead due to FDA negligence. Our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, and even many of our parents have been outright killed by a homicidal system of medicine that maximizes Big Pharma profits at the expense of human life... a system whose key architect is the unapologetically corrupt Food and Drug Administration.

Who will declare the Emperor has no clothes?

Almost no politician, it seems, has the courage to stand up and speak the truth about the FDA. Drug company money for reelection campaigns is simply too valuable.

Sen. Charles Grassley, however, is an exception to the rule. He continues to speak out against the FDA and push for serious reform.

Likewise, Rep. Ron Paul, a lifelong champion of freedom in all its forms, continues to support the Health Freedom Protection Act, a bill that would help end FDA tyranny and restore health freedom to the people.

As Americans, we must declare an end to FDA tyranny and demand our own Nuremberg-style trials for disgraced FDA officials.

I'm sure Dr. David Graham and other key FDA scientists would be more than willing to testify at such a trial, if the nation could ever find the courage to subject the FDA to the scrutiny of real justice.

Personally, I don't understand why Americans continue to tolerate tyranny in medicine. They witness the events of September 11 and rally for war on somebody -- anybody -- but when our own drug companies kill a hundred times as many Americans right here at home, all they do is sign up in droves for the latest Medicare discount drug sham.

It's almost as if the more drugs are prescribed, the more the American people are losing consciousness, and they are left as mind-numbed zombies who can only follow orders, but can never question the reality spoon-fed to them by a Big Pharma-controlled news media.

Because we know the "official" information sources these days are mostly spouting utter nonsense.

In this FDA survey, for example, only 47 percent of the [FDA] scientists [themselves] think the "FDA routinely provides complete and accurate information to the public." Think about that for a minute. It means that 53 percent believe the FDA provides inaccurate information to the public!

And yet mainstream news sources continue to parrot FDA warnings, press releases and press conferences as if the agency possessed something resembling authority. In reality, it has no authority whatsoever, only tyranny.

It rules through intimidation and censorship, not good science and public education.

As a result, it has no genuine authority, and no one who is aware of the facts of the situation assigns any kind of credibility to the agency.

The FDA is simply one more rogue extension of a federal government that has become a considerable threat to the very people it was supposed to protect and serve.

Prescription drug deaths: The silent Holocaust

So, why isn't the public up in arms?

Why aren't we rallying for war against the FDA?

Because the deaths are silent.

There's no footage for the evening news: No explosions, no missile attacks, and no crumbling high-rise buildings... just millions of Americans dying in their hospital beds after succumbing to prescription drugs the FDA assured them were perfectly safe. It's a silent chemical holocaust. And there's nothing to film for the evening news... nothing the viewers will want to see or admit to, anyway.

But you can visualize it in this way. Imagine if the FDA owned a B2 stealth bomber armed with nuclear weapons manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Imagine that each year, it flew the stealth bomber over a major U.S. city and dropped a nuclear bomb directly onto the civilian population. Consider the number of deaths and injuries that would follow. That's what's happening right now in terms of the number of people killed each year by FDA negligence.

With FDA-approved toxic chemicals now the dominant form of so-called medicine in the United States, we are nuking our own population with chemicals that will ultimately harm them or kill them. To call this "scientific medicine" stretches the very definition of absurdity.

I have to wonder: Would the people demand reform if the FDA actually conducted nuclear bombing raids on U.S. cities? Would lawmakers finally stand up and say the FDA should stop bombing our cities? Or would the FDA brush off the critics and simply slap a black-box warning label on the side of the B2 stealth bomber that said, "Warning: This bomb may kill you," and then continue the bombing runs?

As long as powerful corporations keep making money, it appears that nothing can stop this chemical warfare being waged against the American people. No number of deaths is too high, it seems, for a conspiracy of medicine that trades lives for dollars with each passing minute. Shame on the FDA, Big Pharma and every single person who continues to draw a paycheck (or a cash bribe) from these organizations of evil.

To continue working for these organizations is to actively contribute to a system that exploits living persons, that has no regard for the value of a human life, and that drains the health and cash of our fellow human beings in order to maximize profits for corporate shareholders.

So, I have a question.

Why do we still tolerate the actions of this Food and Drug Administration when it is so blatantly engaged in crimes against humanity? Why isn't the FBI conducting armed raids on the agency right now and marching these criminals away in handcuffs?

And when do the FDA trials start?

Because when they begin, I want a front row seat.

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7/24/2006 10:30 PM  

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