How Industry manipulates Science

Although not mentioned in the below article, add in the telecommunications industry who are the undisputed masters at manipulating science and using PR spin. Rampton and Stauber's book may be about the USA but with globalization its really an international problem - its just that the Americans are better at it!

Don Maisch


Omega see also:

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The crime and the punishment of Lorenzo from IARC

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The cry of "ignore this until the study is replicated" goes up. But no one in the cellphone industry attempts to fund replication. Critic and publisher John Moulder, however, took another view: "It's certainly the first animal evidence that suggests that radio frequencies might cause cancer under some conditions,'' he said. [Of course, it isn't the first by a long way -- it is just the most significant because it can't be attacked by industry public relations claims of "bias" since it was done by industry scientists, using industry funding.] There was, of course, no attempt made by the WTR or the CTIA to replicate these findings -- only claims that the findings were of little significance until they had been replicated.

Repacholi first knew that his exposed mice had much higher levels of lymphoma than the controls (and had these strange B-cell forms) back in mid 1994 (the study took 18 months to complete, then two years to get published), but in this time neither the CTIA, WTR or WHO made any suggestion that money be allocated for urgent replication or other parallel research.

This is how the cellphone industry handles such problems:

· they claim that the reseach findings shouldn't be considered important until they are replicated, then

· Don't provide funding to conduct the replication.

Between 1995 and 1999, all those in the know vigorously denied that the Adelaide Hospital findings had any significance. [Replication finally began in Australia in mid-April 1999, and is due for completion and reporting in late 2001 or 2002]

Yet during many of these years the WTR spent the last of its $27 million on second-rate science, without any appreciable results. During the same period, the cellphone industry around the world made roughly $100 billion each year in profits.

April 30, 1998: The cellular phone industry's contract for funding the WTR through Carlo and HES officially expired. At this stage they had spent $25 million and have little more of significance than a widely published and promoted research report announcing that cellphones interfere with pacemakers -- something that had been widely reported in the past. There was effectively no release of the results of any biomedical research results at all.

But then Dr George Carlo became a turncoat.

The WTR is wound down. The end of US Cellphone Health Research In 1998, Dr Carlo's term as the director of Wireless Technology Research (WTR) had run out. The contract had actually come to an end in 1997, but since some of the scientific research projects had not been complete, the life of the WTR had been extended a year, with additional funding of $2 million.

Carlo wanted extra funds and probably wanted to continue, but he had fallen out badly with the CTIA over a number of matters, and it was clear that neither his job, or the continuation of any WTR research projects, were likely prospects beyond that year. A number of the major cellphone companies had been vocal in criticism of the bad press they were receiving, and the CTIA announced that they intended to just maintain 'surveillance' of the cellphone health situation, rather than actively participate in funding research.

April 1998: The CTIA agrees to continue funding in a limited way (adding another $2 million to the pot)so as to finalise a few biomedical studies that had been hastily added to the WTR list towards the end of the five year period.

The CTIA and Carlo have clearly fallen out, however. By April he had been left in no doubt that the industry would not require his services in the future.

June 1998: A letter appears in the Lancet saying that Dr Stephan Braune of the University Neurology Clinic in Freiburg, Germany, has found that it is the radio output from GSM cellular telphones causes blood pressure to rise. This and a number of other studies by independent scientists in Europe, raise public concerns about cellphones once again.

End 1998: The WTR is being wound down, and replaced by a public relations organisation called WIN.

The Vienna Declaration: Oct 25-27 1998 A group of very promient scientists from Europe and America, working in the field of non-ionising radiation research, met in Vienna. After the conference they signed a declaration stating:

"The participants agreed that biological effects from low-intensity exposures are scientifically established. However, the current state of scientific consensus is inadequate to derive reliable exposure standards. The existing evidence demands an increase in the research efforts on the possible health impact and on an adequate exposure and dose assessment."

This group included a number of the most prominent scientist in the field from the USA, Sweden, the UK and elsewhere. Also prominent was a scientist from the FDA in Washington.

The WTR -- A Summary

Were there any appreciable public health benefits?
How much did the WTR project cost?

About one-fortieth of a cent (0.025 cents) for every dollar spent by customers on cellphones in the USA during the period it was in operation.

What did it achieve

· Confirmation that pacemakers were slightly vulnerable.

· A better exposure system for mice during future research (Chou)

· A comfortable living, with first-class travel to overseas conventions for a lot of people, including a lot of tame scientists.

· Maybe a small amount of biological evidence of potential harm from long-term cellphone use.

What does the CTIA do now?

Absolutely nothing other than its token gift to the FDA. It found to its cost that doing spurious research was worse than doing nothing, and it also found that spending $27 million only raised media interest. From this point on it plans to spend its money on public relations.

Some of the corporate members of the CTIA believe that the WTR's research program had been little more than a public relations disaster and the lack of actual research with even token appearance of having any significance. Dr Louis Slessin's famous remark that they'd spent $17 million over the first four years without ever getting a test-tube wet, had hurt their cause deeply.

What little genuine biomedical research had been commissioned by the WTR, had only been in the last year or so, and it was evident to most outside observers, that this had only been funded in a last-minute attempt to regain some shred of credibility for the cellular phone industry.

The role of funding research had been passed over to the companies themselves -- principly Motorola in the USA, and Motorola and Nokia in Europe. These companies were aiming to finance research in a way that allowed them to more easily control the publication of results.

In the USA this was done by selecting compliant universities and research institutes, and signing the principle researchers up to confidential contracts. In Europe, it was done by providing matching finance to the COST 244 grants, which effectively gave the companies veto power over what research would be conducted -- even when half came from government sources.

The WTR won't release a comprehensive report of the research they say they funded over the years. It is not clear where the idea that there were "50 studies conducted at 16 research labs" came from (The CTIA won't supply a list), or where the reporter got the idea that Carlo is "a lawyer who has a Ph.D. in pathology", (he has a degree in statistics from Buffalo University). But, given the generally high quality of Boston Globe reporting, it is doubtful that these were journalistic errors.

Message from Mast Network


WHO has fallen victim to neoliberal globalisation and to the economic interests of powerful nations and the transnational corporations



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