Scientists who attack new chemical regulations almost always have financial ties to pharma or chemical companies

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: scientists, chemical regulations, financial ties

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(NaturalNews) If you think legitimate science, and not special interests, is what dictates the regulatory process for new chemicals, you might want to think again. A recent investigation by Environmental Health News (EHN) into a controversial, yet highly cited, journal editorial that decries increased regulations for endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like bisphenol-A (BPA) has revealed that every single editor and scientist who signed onto the paper, with the exception of one, has ties to the pharmaceutical or chemical industries.

The paper in question, entitled "Scientifically unfounded precaution drives European Commission's recommendations on EDC regulation, while defying common sense, well-established science and risk assessment principles," was first published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology back in July. And like its name implies, the purpose of this editorial was to chastise recent proposals made by the European Commission to establish an improved regulatory framework for EDCs.

Not long after the paper's original publishing, a scientific civil war broke out in which scientists supportive of the continued unregulated use of EDCs were met by strong opposition from scientists opposed to the racket. According to EHN, a back-and-forth argument over the safety of EDCs, the science behind their use, and many other facets of the issue quickly gained national limelight, with the journal Nature keeping close tabs on the issue.

But up until this point, nobody had looked into the possible motivations behind the publishing of the original editorial, mainly why its authors are so vehemently opposed to EDC regulation in light of science that shows their dangers -- that is, until EHN decided to take a closer look. What this group found, which may not come as much of a surprise to NaturalNews readers, is that 17 of the 18 authors of the original editorial have financial ties to the chemical or pharmaceutical industries.

"An investigation by Environmental Health News reveals that of 18 toxicology journal editors who signed a controversial editorial, 17 have collaborated with the chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, tobacco, pesticide or biotechnology industries," write Stephane Horel and Brian Bienkowski for EHN. "Some have received research funds from industry associations, while some have served as industry consultants or advisors."

94 percent of editorial authors have financial or other stakes in keeping EDCs unregulated

Among these is Daniel R. Dietrich, a toxicologist from the University of Konstanz in Germany, who is regarded as the editorial's lead author. According to EHN, Dietrich is a former advisor for the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC), an industry association funded by a cohort of chemical, pesticide and oil companies. ECETOC actively and directly lobbies the European Commission in favor of EDCs.

Another chemical industry advocate who helped author the editorial against improved EDC regulations is Bas Blaauboer, editor of the journal Toxicology in Vitro. According to EHN, Blaauboer, who now works as a toxicology professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, accepted more than a half million dollars from the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), a pro-EDC lobbying group, between April 2008 and March 2010.

"The problematic affiliations range from slight (patents with the drug company Merck, which produces BPA) to the major (significant research funding from pharmaceutical companies, affiliations with the European Chemical Industry Council)," writes Alexis Sobel Fitts for the Columbia Journalism Review about the various conflicts of interest with the authors of the original editorial opposing improved EDC regulations.

In their defense, Dietrich et al. insist that their industry ties played no role in the publishing of their article and that this argument is irrelevant to the issue at hand. But the hundreds of scientists and journals that have since come out to expose it disagree, noting that its publishing was timed perfectly with the imminent European Commission proposal, which would have "sweeping, global ramifications because all companies that sell a variety of products in Europe would have to comply."

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