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Project News and Views

Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market

Independent Science News just published “Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market,” an investigative report by Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman.

Synopsis: Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman’s investigation reveals that a computer-based modeling system for estimating human health effects from synthetic chemicals has been known for years to greatly underestimate risks if used in certain ways. This system, called “physiologically based pharmacokinetic” (PBPK) modeling was originally developed by the US Department of Defense. PBPK’s use has been pushed by the chemical industry. It has been effectively used to stall, dilute, and roll back chemical regulation in the United States. To achieve this aim the chemical industry employed a motley range of allies, from groups of university scientists and journal editors to environmental consultancies.

Excerpts from:
Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market“:

That the chemical industry exerts political influence is well documented. What our investigation reveals is that, 30 years ago, corporate interests began to control not just the political process but the science itself. Industry not only funds research to cast doubt on known environmental health hazards; it has also shaped an entire field of science—regulatory toxicology—to downplay the risk of toxic chemicals.

Although couched in complex language, these arguments are not academic, but have profound implications for public health. Disorders and diseases, increasingly linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors— including metabolic, reproductive, developmental and neurological problems—are widespread and increasing. About 20 percent of U.S. adults show at least three of the five indicators of metabolic syndrome: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Neurological problems, including behavioral and learning disabilities in children as well as Parkinson’s disease, are increasing rapidly. Fertility rates in both men and women are declining. Globally, the average sperm count has dropped 50 percent in the last 50 years.”

To read the entire article go to: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/why-the-united-states-leaves-deadly-chemicals-on-the-market/

Note: “Why the United States Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market” was first published by In These Times.

Additional Reading on Chemical Regulation

Myers, John Peterson, et al. “Why Public Health Agencies Cannot Depend on Good Laboratory Practices as a Criterion for Selecting Data: The Case of Bisphenol A.” Environmental Health Perspectives 117.3 (2009): 309-315.
The estrogenic chemical BPA is used extensively in food and drink packaging. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show harmful effects of BPA at low doses. Yet the EPA and the European Food Safety Authority disregard them all because they are not certified as GLP (Good Laboratory Practice). Instead, they have declared BPA to be safe based on two industry studies. These studies are GPA but they are dangerously flawed. The authors demonstrate why “public health decisions should be based on studies using appropriate protocols and the most sensitive assays. They should not be based on criteria that include or exclude data depending on whether or not the studies use GLP. Simply meeting GLP requirements is insufficient to guarantee scientific reliability and validity.”

Wagner, Wendy, and David Michaels. “Equal Treatment for Regulatory Science: Extending the Controls Governing the Quality of Public Research to Private Reseach.” Am. JL & Med. 30 (2004): 119.
Worrisome evidence of compromised private research is effectively ignored as the “sound science” reforms take aim primarily at publicly funded research.” This paper is essential reading for anyone interested in scientific risk assessment; the types of flaws found in industry data; how industry controls data production and suppresses adverse results; unequal scrutiny of industry vs. public sector data; the misuse of CBI (confidential business information); and how to combat these pernicious and pervasive problems. Eye-opening data and analysis.

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Steven Druker Interview: Genetic Engineering and the Subversion of Science

Public Interest Attorney Steven Druker was interviewed by Ryan Clover-Owens at Durland Alternatives Library during Druker’s recent Ithaca visit. Their discussion covered many topics including how genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) came to be so prevalent in the current industrial agriculture and food system; the role of academic scientists in misleading the public about the risks of genetic engineering; the result of the profit motive and arrogance on the quality of science; what happens to scientists whose work challenges the safety of genetic engineering and what can a concerned person do about it. Steven Druker encourages scientists and non-scientists to get informed and speak out.

To watch the video of Ryan Clover-Owens’s interview (20 minutes) with Steven Druker go to: Steven Druker Interview: Genetic Engineering and the Subversion of Science.

steven druker video screenshot


Additional data supporting Druker’s interview answers is presented in his book Altered Genes Twisted Truth.  For additional reading on Public Interest vs Private Interest Science see:

O’Brien, M. H. (1993). Being a Scientist Means Taking Sides. BioScience, 706-708.

Wilhelm Peekhaus (2010). The Neoliberal University and Agricultural Biotechnology: Reports From the Field. The Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 30: 415-429.

So, A. D., Sampat, B. N., Rai, A. K., Cook-Deegan, R., Reichman, J. H., Weissman, R., & Kapczynski, A. (2008). Is Bayh-Dole Good for Developing Countries? Lessons from the US Experience. PLoS Biology 6(10), e262.

Arancibia, F. (2013). Challenging the Bioeconomy: The Dynamics of Collective Action in Argentina. Technology in Society, 35(2), 79-92.

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Altered Genes Twisted Truth Edited Steven Druker Ithaca Talk on Community TV

OVER THE SHOULDER (OTS, a weekly one-hour series of public interest programs) is showing Altered Genes, Twisted Truth — an edited version of Steven Druker’s public talk in Ithaca, N.Y. The OTS show will be aired on Community Access TV Channels 13 (w/Cable Box or Digital Adapter) & 97-1 (digital TV’s w/QAM Tuner) on:

Tuesday        November 24 at 9 PM
Wednesday  November 25 at 1:30 PM
Thursday      November 27 at 11 AM
Saturday       November 28 at 11 PM

For more informations see:

Produced by Jurden Alexander, camera and Wies van Leuken, editor:  OTS 271 Altered Genes, Twisted Truth shows Steven Druker discussing his book “Altered Genes Twisted Truth: how the venture to genetically engineer our food has subverted science, corrupted government, and systematically deceived the public”.  Mr. Druker is a Public Interest Attorney, genetically modified foods (GMO) critic and executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity.  The event took place at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca, NY on September 30, 2015 and was organized by the Bioscience Resource Project in Ithaca, NY.
Length 59:13

Additional cablecasts during the same week at the discretion of the station manager.
Posted at YouTube at https://youtu.be/uBtdeioRyQ0

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Why Andrew Cuomo’s Pollinator Task Force Won’t Save New York’s Bees

Independent Science News has just published Why Andrew Cuomo’s Pollinator Task Force Won’t Save New York’s Bees, a firsthand investigative report by Tracy Frisch.

Synopsis: Beekeepers across North America have been experiencing unsustainable losses of honeybee colonies from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In 2014-15, annual colony losses in New York State reached 54 per cent, according to the Bee Informed Partnership survey. These problems of managed bees are probably connected to a general decline in pollinator species being experienced all over the globe. Unless halted, the decline of pollinators heralds an ecological and agricultural crisis of unimaginable proportions.

Despite its seriousness, the US Federal Government has passed much of the responsibility for solutions to individual states. In particular, it has asked states to create their own “Pollinator Protection Plans.” This buck-passing is not producing promising results, however, as Tracy Frisch’s report on NY Governor Cuomo’s Pollinator Task Force shows. Mostly advised by industry representatives, NY’s Task Force ignores the impressive worldwide body of scientific evidence that implicates neonicotinoid insecticides as a major contributor to the decline of honeybee and wild bee populations (e.g. Lu et al., 2014).

Unless outside pressure (e.g. from the public, NGOs, beekeepers and scientists) can force Governor Cuomo and his Pollinator Task Force to ban neonicotinoids, and other implicated pesticides and herbicides, the decline in pollinators will continue.

To read the entire article by Tracy Frisch go to: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/why-andrew-cuomos-pollinator-task-force-wont-save-new-yorks-bees/.

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Video of Lawyer Steven Druker’s Ithaca Discussion of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

On Wednesday, September 30th from 7-9pm, the Bioscience Resource Project hosted Public Interest Attorney Steven Druker from the Alliance for Bio-Integrity. Steven Druker described some of the findings of his extensive research for Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public. This research included examination of original sources (including FDA documents and scientific papers), interviews with scientists involved in GE research and risk assessment and re-checking his findings with additional scientists. Druker’s research led him to conclude that no GE crop on the market has ever been properly safety tested and therefore GE foods cannot legitimately be claimed “safe” for consumption. During his talk he shows the falseness of claims that GE is a natural process; that no GE product has ever been shown to harm humans; that there is a scientific consensus that GE foods are safe and that GE foods are well-regulated. He also contends that GE is so imprecise and unpredictable that even calling it genetic “engineering” is a misnomer.

Druker proved enthusiastic to engage respectfully with scientists and others with contrary opinions, including those who promote GE crops and foods. After the event he took a wide range of questions from the audience, including many from Alliance for Science Fellows. His answers reflected both the careful research he put into his book and his respect for science and the people he is engaging with, whatever their views. The full (2 hour) video of Steven Druker’s talk and Q and A  can be seen at: Altered Genes Twisted Truth Talk and Q&A in Ithaca.

An excellent edited (1 hour) recording of the event was produced by Over the Shoulder: Altered Genes Twisted Truth. This version includes an introduction by Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project and 40 minutes of Druker’s talk and 15 minutes of Q and A.

Druker’s talk provides a good contrast and follow-up to the Cornell Alliance for Science’s “Ask Me Anything About GMOs.” event held in Ithaca a few weeks previously.

More about Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

Synopsis of Altered Genes Twisted Truth in Nation of Change.

Altered Genes Twisted Truth reviewed by Jane Goodall in the Ecologist.

The Royal Society’s assault on the science of GM foods must cease by Steven Druker.

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GE Soybeans Give Altered Milk and Stunted Offspring, Researchers Find

On October 26th, 2015, Independent Science News published: “GE Soybeans Give Altered Milk and Stunted Offspring, Researchers Find,” a news article by Jonathan Latham, PhD.

Synopsis: Pregnant goats fed with genetically engineered (GE) soybeans have offspring who grow more slowly and who are also shorter, according to a new study published in the journal of Small Ruminant Research (Tudisco et al., 2015). The researchers attributed the growth defects to reduced milk and colostrum quality in the GE-fed mothers. “The differences in the composition of the colostrum between the mothers fed the GE soy and the non-GE soy were particularly striking. The colostrum from the GE-fed mothers contained only 2/3 of the fat, 1/3 of the protein and close to half of the IgG of the mothers fed the non-GM soy,” said Dr Judy Carman Director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, Australia, (who was not involved in the study) in an email to Independent Science News.

For the full article read: http://www.independentsciencenews.org/news/ge-soybeans-give-altered-milk-and-stunted-offspring-researchers-find/

For the original research paper by Tudisco et al., 2015 go to: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921448815000528

Further reading
Reviews of the safety studies carried out on genetically engineered plants:

Krimsky, Sheldon. “An Illusory Consensus behind GMO Health Assessment.” Science, Technology & Human Values (2015): 0162243915598381.
Heinemann, Jack A., Sarah Zanon Agapito-Tenfen, and Judy A. Carman. “A comparative evaluation of the regulation of GM crops or products containing dsRNA and suggested improvements to risk assessments.” Environment international 55 (2013): 43-55.
Domingo, José L., and Jordi Giné Bordonaba. “A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants.” Environment International 37.4 (2011): 734-742.
Domingo, Jose L. “Toxicity studies of genetically modified plants: a review of the published literature.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 47.8 (2007): 721-733.
Freese, William, and David Schubert. “Safety testing and regulation of genetically engineered foods.” Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews 21.1 (2004): 299-324.
Carman, Judy. “Is GM food safe to eat?.” Recoding Nature Critical Perspectives on Genetic Engineering (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2004) (2004): 82-93.
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Video of Alliance For Science’s Ithaca “Ask Me Anything About GMOs” Event: Disrespect for the Public and Disrespect for the Truth

Cornell’s Alliance for Science, funded by the Gates Foundation to “depolarize” the GMO debate, hosted its first public event in Ithaca: “Ask Me Anything About GMOs.”  This event, however, was nothing if not polarizing. Controversy before the event centered around how it was portrayed (as an open and independent discussion of GMO issues by a panel of unbiased scientists). This illusion was quickly shattered by a New York Times front page article and Jonathan Latham’s follow-up, The Puppetmasters of Academia. Together these exposed the industry links of Kevin Folta (a key panel participant), Sarah Evanega Davidson (director of the Cornell Alliance for Science) and Cornell University itself. The final panel at the event was composed solely of publicly funded academics with clear industry ties.

The panel took questions from the public and from Alliance for Science Fellows and staff. Their answers were less than satisfactory for those wanting an independent, science-informed viewpoint or a thoughtful discussion of GMO issues. The panel scientists evaded questions, gave inaccurate or misleading answers, answered questions that were not asked, reiterated industry talking points or simply had the pubic “gonged” when they did not like where the discussion was going. Much of the audience was composed of the Alliance for Science, its fellows and its Cornell supporters. However thought-provoking and challenging questions were asked by farmers, scientists not linked to industry and other members of the public. For the full video of the Ithaca Alliance Event see: Bioscience Resource Project video of “Ask Me Anything” GMO Event 9-10-15.

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Why Cancer Research Has Stalled

Independent Science News just published: Why Cancer Research Has Stalled. This new article by Dr. T. Colin Campbell (Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus, Cornell University) suggests that significant scientific advancement in the understanding, prevention and treatment of cancer requires a totally different research focus.

Synopsis: The failure of science and medicine to prevent or significantly treat the current epidemic of cancer is not necessarily due to the inherent invincibility of the disease. T Colin Campbell, cancer biologist and nutrition researcher, proposes that the primary reason Read More »

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Ithaca Event: Lawyer Steven Druker introduces his new book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth

On Wednesday, September 30th from 7-9pm, the Bioscience Resource Project is hosting an event featuring lawyer Steven Druker from the Alliance for Bio-Integrity. Steven Druker will introduce and answer questions about his new book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public.Altered Genes-Twisted Tuth Steven Druker

After Steven Druker’s talk, there will be refreshments and a chance to talk to him, as well as to local non-profits working on healthy, sustainable and just food system alternatives. Biologists Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson will be representing The Bioscience Resource Project and Independent Science News. Visit these and other information tables before and after the main event. Buffalo Street Books will be selling copies of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth.

Time and Place:
The Unitarian Church in Ithaca, NY, on the corner of Aurora and Buffalo Streets.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015 from 7 – 9 pm (doors open at 6:30pm). This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Read More »

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The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out)

Independent Science News has just published a revelatory new article by Jonathan Latham, PhD: “The Puppetmasters of Academia (or What the NY Times Left out).

Synopsis: Earlier this year, a US group called US Right to Know (USRTK) set in motion Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests directed at public university scientists it suspected of working with (and being paid by) the biotech industry and/or its PR intermediaries. A new front page article (NY Times Sept 5th) by Eric Lipton reports on similar FOIA emails obtained from University of Florida professor Kevin Folta and others. However, Lipton’s focus on individual academics like Folta obscures the fact that the emails (some available online as links to the NYT article) expose a vast network of academics employed by industry to promote GMOs and defend them from scientific criticism. Also missing Read More »

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    The Bioscience Resource Project provides scientific and intellectual resources for a healthy future. It publishes Independent Science News, a media service devoted to food and agriculture, and their impacts on health and the environment. It also offers resources for scientists and educators and internships and training for students. Through its innovative scientific journalism and original biosafety review articles, the project provides unique and revealing perspectives on issues that are fundamental to the survival of people and the planet. The project does not accept advertising or corporate funding and is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. It is completely dependent on individual donations.

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