Wednesday, 16 July 2003

Corporations Use Clout To Cloak Health, Environment Risks

Just call me the Right Honourable You-Don't-Say at the Ministry of the Bleedin' Obvious!

Health Advocacy Group Warns Of Conflicted Science


Powerful corporate interests continue to use science and scientists to manipulate public opinion and influence public policy on health and the environment, experts said at a conference Friday. The public may be aware of several prominent examples such as lead, tobacco and asbestos, but the "publicized cases are the tip of the iceberg," said Drummond Rennie, the deputy editor of the "Journal of the American Medical Association."

"We have a major problem," Rennie told attendees of the Center for Science in the Public Interest's (CSPI) conference called "Conflicted Science: Corporate Influence on Scientific Research and Science-Based Policy."

CSPI's Integrity in Science project coordinated the one day conference to probe how corporate dollars and tactics influence the conduct of scientific researchers, physicians, academic institutions and policymakers.

The nonprofit nutrition advocacy organization contends that financial conflicts of interests facilitate manipulation of science in ways that ultimately threaten public health and environmental protection.

The links between science and commercial interests has grown stronger in the past 30 years, says CSPI Executive Director Dr. Michael Jacobson, "especially as government policies have affected a wide range of commercially important health and environment issues."

Universities are increasingly dependent on outside funding for research and there is a rising trend of the same academic institutions that are responsible for oversight of scientific integrity and human subjects protection entering financial relationships with the industries whose product evaluations they oversee, Jacobsen said.

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