Jonathan Latham, co-founder and executive director of the Bioscience Resource Project and editor of the Independent Science News website, is a well-known critic of corporate fascism and its influence on American politics, including at the EPA. He was recently interviewed by Truthout.org's Lorna Garano, during which he explained how science is routinely manipulated by corporate interests to push an agenda.
At the EPA, this includes covering up pertinent data about chemical safety that benefits chemical corporations at the expense of public health. And the situation is so dire that Latham is actually writing a book about what he's uncovered that focuses on where the problem lies, while offering suggestions on how to correct them.
Latham is also working on a project known as Poison Papers, which represents a treasure trove of about two-and-a-half tons of now-uncovered regulatory and chemical industry documents, exposing the EPA as little more than a shell regulatory body that's become completely beholden to chemical industry interests.
"[These documents] were obtained mainly by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and through court orders, and consists of internal reports and studies, meeting minutes, correspondence, unsealed court documents, and so forth," Latham explained during the interview. "They primarily cover the 1960s to the 1990s."
For more information about Poison Papers and to view the uncovered documents for yourself, visit PoisonPapers.org.
Most of the documents were compiled by chemical activist Carol Van Strum, who's activism work in the 1960s was largely responsible for getting the infamous Agent Orange chemical banned. Strum has since kept busy focusing on chemicals like permethrin that was approved by the EPA based on fraudulent and defective testing.
"... the EPA has systematic procedures to evaluate [chemicals] that are biased in favor of finding no harm," says Latham. "They are so biased, in fact, that it is virtually impossible for substances to fail to be approved. In the case of permethrin, for example, there were multiple warning signs that it was a carcinogen and a chronic toxin as well."
While the EPA often claims to rely on "independent" science when approving new chemicals, the fact of the matter is that the laboratories it uses routinely submit reports with missing data. Some of this could be attributed to incompetence, but Latham contends that these omissions are intentional in order to hide chemical toxicity.
Internal procedures at the EPA are similarly questionable. EPA evaluators are notorious for bringing up invalid historical data, Latham says, as well as discounting evidence of carcinogenicity associated with certain chemicals.
Latham also points to EPA senior scientist Adrian Gross, a sort-of whistleblower, who once called the EPA's approach in procedural interpretations as being "calculated to impress the uninitiated and the gullible." In other words, the EPA is willing to go to pretty much any length to avoid having to label a given chemical or product as being a "hazard."
Gross, who used to work at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was responsible for uncovering the infamous IBT chemical testing scandal. Nearly half of all currently approved chemicals were tested by IBT, and it has since been revealed that almost all of these tests were fraudulent – meaning a large percentage of agricultural and industrial chemicals currently on the market never should have been approved in the first place.
Be sure to read the entire transcript of this powerful interview at Truthout.org.
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