Bush attempts to censor US scientific participation at the WHO

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A bit of political reality.........

The WHO is now negotiating with the Bush Administration over requirements that senior US administration officials approve participants in scientific meetings. The Bush administration, not content with corrupting science in the USA now wants to extend its anti-scientific agenda into the WHO with HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson reviewing US scientists who are appointed to scientific panels. See next message (Part2) on the scientific qualifications of "Tobacco Tommy".

Don Maisch

Access this story and related links online:

The Junk Science of George W. Bush


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AS mentioned in the last message Bush administration is pushing requirements that Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson approve US participants in international scientific panels so that in the future US scientists "serve as representatives of the U.S. government at all times and advocate U.S. government policies."

So what is Tommy Thompson's track record in appointing scientists to expert advisory panels? For just one example of many we can look at what "Tommy Tobacco" has done to the US Lead Advisory Committee: (Exerpt from my thesis)

Stacking the Lead Advisory Committee at the CDC

Since the early 1990's the CDC's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention has been providing information aimed to protect American children against exposure to toxic levels of lead in their environment.

According to advice given to the CDC by this advisory committee, approximately 890,000 U.S. children age 1-5 have elevated blood lead levels, and more than one-fifth of African-American children living in housing built before 1946 have elevated blood lead levels. The major sources of lead exposure are deteriorated paint in older housing, and dust and soil that are contaminated with lead from old paint and from past emissions of leaded gasoline. The CDC web site states that:

*"Lead poisoning affects virtually every system in the body, and often occurs with no distinctive symptoms.

*Lead can damage a child's central nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive system and, at higher levels, can cause coma, convulsions, and death.

*Even low levels of lead are harmful and are associated with decreased intelligence, impaired neurobehavioral development, decreased stature and growth, and impaired hearing acuity."

The CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention is charged with assessing the scientific data and recommending changes to CDC policy to prevent lead poisoning, including assessing whether the blood lead level limits are adequate. These blood lead levels are then used to determine which children are at risk for adverse health effects, and how much remediation must be done to ensure that a lead-contaminated site is safe. The Committee has guided major changes in lead poisoning policy for more than a decade. For example, in 1991, the acceptable blood lead level limits were revised from 25 µg/dL (micrograms per deciliter, the unit used to measure blood lead levels) down to 10 µg/dL in a report released by CDC and developed in part by the Advisory Committee.

In March 2002, the Advisory Committee issued Recommendations entitled "Managing Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Young Children" which provides health care case managers guidance on how to assess and treat children with elevated blood lead levels.

In a major reshuffle in the makeup of the Lead Advisory Committee, nominations of very high qualified scientists with extensive experience on the health effects of lead exposures to children were rejected by The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tommy Thompson and instead replaced with individuals who have ties with the lead industry.

Susan Cummins, chair of the lead advisory committee from 1995 to 2000 stated that "no previous HHS secretary has ever rejected nominations by the committee or the CDC staff.

Tommy Thompson and Big Tobacco

Tommy Thompson, Secretary of HHS under the G.W. Bush Administration, was approved by the Senate in Jan 2001. Former Republician governor of Wisconsin for several terms Thompson has had a long association with Phillip Morris, the tobacco corporation. Philip Morris executives have been the leading contributers to Thompson's campaign funds. While governor of Wisconsin Thompson was on the legal advisory board of the Philip-Morris funded Washington Legal Foundation and was described in Philip Morris documents as "a close ally of Philip Morris for many years". Both as governor of Wisconsin, and as minority leader, Thompson has worked at opposing the Clean Indoor Act, proposed amendments to exempt most businesses from smoking bans, opposed increases in excise taxes on cigarettes, opposed bans on businesses selling cigarettes to minors and passed legislation making it illegial for communities to pass stricter tobacco laws, such as banning the use of cigarette vending machines.

In 1999 his staff worked with Philip Morris and other lobbysts to eliminate enforcement of the law that makes it illegial to sell cigarettes to minors. Two non-profit groups bankrolled by Philip Morris paid for overseas visits by Thompson to Africa (1995), England (1992) and Australia in 1996.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention

Reappointment rejected by Thompson:

Dr. Michael Weitzman, Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester, and Pediatrician in Chief, Rochester General Hospital, Dr. Weitzman has been an Advisory Committee member since 1997, and is author of numerous peer-reviewed publications on lead poisoning. Dr. Weitzman was chair of the EPA's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Workshop to Review Evidence of Health Effects of Blood Lead Levels over 10 micrograms per deciliter.

Nominations rejected:

Dr. Bruce Lanphear, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, currently the Sloan Professor of Children's Environmental Health. Dr. Lanphear is author of numerous peer-reviewed publications on lead poisoning. Dr. Lanphear was principle investigator on the primary study used by the EPA to establish federal standards for lead in residential buildings.

Dr. Susan Klitzman, Associate Professor of Urban Public Health at the Hunter College School of Health Sciences, and author of numerous peer-reviewed publications on lead poisoning.

Nominated approved:

Dr. William Banner, Jr., MD, PhD- Expert Witness for the Lead Industry.

* Dr. Banner, who is currently an attending physician in the pediatric intensive care unit, Children's Hospital at St. Francis Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, is also currently retained by the Lead Industries Association as an expert witness, in an ongoing legal case wherein the State of Rhode Island is holding the lead paint industry responsible for childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island. Banner has testified in court that blood levels of lead below 70 µg/dL do not pose a threat to children's health even though the current CDC position" is that blood lead levels of 10 µg/dL or greater are high enough to be a health concern. Dr Banner has also stated that he rejects the evidence in the epidemiological literature that found that there are cognitive, IQ, and other kinds of learning deficits that have been associated with ingestion of lead levels above the CDC recommendation of 10 µg/dL.

*Dr. Joyce Tsuji, principal scientist for Exponent, and King and Spalding, a DC law firm representing several large lead firms, and who has testified as an expert witness for the lead industry.

Exponent's clients 17 include corporations such as ASARCO (which is currently disputing EPA's assumptions that ASARCO is the source of elevated arsenic and lead in residential soils in El Paso and fighting Superfund designation, Dow Chemical, and Dupont (named as a defendant in the Rhode Island lead lawsuit), large insurance companies such as Allstate and USAA, trade associations such as the American Chemistry Council, the National Mining Association and the American Petroleum Institute, and law firms such as Winston and Strawn and King and Spalding (which represents several large lead companies. 31 % of Exponent's 51 corporate clients have a financial interest in the deliberations of the CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. 20 One of these companies, FMC Corporation, has a lead-contaminated Superfund site. 15 Exponent clients reported releases of lead or lead compounds to air, land or surface waters in EPA's 2000 Toxic Release Inventory.

Dr. Tsuji provided testimony in a class action lawsuit regarding the "alleged" need for medical monitoring for all residents in the vicinity of a smelter living on soil with arsenic and lead levels above background levels. "Key issues included the lack of sensitivity of tests at these low exposure levels and the negligible risk of adverse effects."

*Dr. Kimberly Thompson, Assistant Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science, Harvard School of Public Health, affiliated with the John Graham's Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. HCRA has 22 corporate funders with a financial interest in the deliberations of the CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and less stringent regulation of lead. Three of these funders have Superfund sites with lead contamination - Ciba-Geigy Corporation, FMC Corporation, and Monsanto.

Dr. Sergio Piomelli, Professor, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, researcher who reportedly disagrees with the current blood lead standard set by the CDC Advisory Committee in 1991. In arguing against lowering the acceptable limit of lead in the blood, Piomelli stated: "there is no epidemic of lead poisoning...but some people are trying to create an epidemic by decree."




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