Selected tags: industry tactics

Chemicals R Us: New ACC-sponsored website says chemicals are safe and fun for kids!

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

[See also my more recent post on this topic here.]

I was alerted yesterday to a new website – kidschemicalsafety.org – funded by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and run by its right-hand “non-profit,” TERA (Toxicology Excellence in Risk Assessment).  The website and an accompanying Facebook page are a wonder to behold, replete with photos of happy kids.  For the most part, I’ll leave it to you to explore.  But here are a few highlights.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Industry Influence| Also tagged , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Scientists push back against a bill that would pervert the whole concept of conflict of interest

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

This week, two letters – one signed by 13 prominent public health scientists and the other signed by the heads of 8 major national environmental organizations – were sent to the House Science Committee voicing strong opposition to H.R. 6564, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2012.

The sponsors of this legislation claim that it is needed to “enhance transparency and limit conflicts of interest” on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) and its panels.  In fact, it would do the precise opposite.  Here’s how the scientists’ letter summarizes the impacts that would arise from passage of the bill:   

“This proposed legislation would only serve to reverse progress in bringing the best scientific advice and analysis to EPA.  The consequence would be to deprive EPA of needed scientific advice on the most complex and pressing environmental health problems of our day.” 

Among the most perverse provisions of this bill (and there are many) are two that would turn the very notion of conflict of interest on its head.  One would limit scientists that receive competitive grants through EPA’s extramural research program from serving on the SAB or its panels – claiming that such funding constitutes a conflict of interest.  The scientists’ letter goes directly at that provision:

“The underlying idea that scientists who obtain funding from EPA for any project have conflicts about all EPA matters is baseless and reflects a misunderstanding of who we are as scientists and our role in society.”

Another provision is even more perverse:  It would reverse longstanding conflict-of-interest policy and practice followed by virtually every authoritative scientific body in the world – including the National Academy of Sciences, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization – by allowing unfettered access of industry representatives with direct conflicts of interest to serve on the SAB and its panels, as long as their conflicts are disclosed.

Who’s behind this radical legislation?  Here’s a hint:  The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents the chemical manufacturing industry, couldn’t wait to express its unequivocal support, stating it “cannot overstate the importance of this bill to Americans” in a press release titled “House Science Committee Proposes Common Sense Reform To EPA Scientific Advisory Process:  Proposed Legislation Would Improve Expert Panel Selection, Limit Conflicts of Interest and Enhance Systematic Reviews.”  And ACC’s been singing the bill’s praises all over town ever since (see, e.g., slide 6 of this ACC presentation).  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Small is beautiful: Polling shows huge bipartisan support for TSCA reform among small business owners

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

This week, the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a bipartisan national survey of 511 small business owners conducted by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies. The survey showed that small business owners, just like voters, support stronger chemical safety regulations to mitigate the risks posed to human health and the environment by toxic chemicals.

Small business owners are an important part of the discussion on TSCA reform; the chemical industry frequently uses this group as an excuse to oppose tighter regulations, claiming that these regulations are “bad for business” and would detrimentally harm small business owners. In contrast, the survey shows that there is broad consensus among small business owners on the need to ensure the safety of their products and their customers.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Joe Chemical — Ring a bell?

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

I've blogged earlier about the chemical industry's campaign of deception exposed by the Chicago Tribune last month in a jaw-dropping series titled "Playing with Fire."  That in-depth series ran into the tens of thousands of words and included many extras such as video interviews.

EDF and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition decided it should be boiled down to its essence.  That's why we produced this ad, which is running full page today in Politico:

[click to enlarge]

For more on this, check out www.saferchemicals.org/JoeChemical.

 

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , | Comments closed

Labor and public health advocates to the chemical industry: Stop bullying federal scientists!

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

After my long post this morning, I’ll keep this one brief:  The United Steelworkers, one of the nation’s top occupational physicians and EDF, represented by Earthjustice, have filed a motion to intervene in D.C. District Court, seeking to help defend the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ listing of styrene as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."  The motion is in response to a chemical industry lawsuit attempting to force the agency's National Toxicology Program to withdraw the styrene warning, which was published in the 12th edition of the Congressionally mandated Report on Carcinogens.

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , | Comments closed

No shame: ACC plunges to new low in fighting your right to know

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

This post is longer than usual and starts with a rather esoteric topic, but I urge you to read it through, as it vividly shows there is no limit to the lengths to which the American Chemistry Council (ACC) will go to squirm out of a regulatory requirement, even if it means violating rules by which ACC had agreed to abide.

But that’s far from the worst of it.  Going farther than even I could imagine when I blogged earlier about its tactics, ACC is sparing no effort to deny your right to know about the health impacts of chemicals, by mustering every argument it can invent – however far-fetched – to  keep health and safety studies from being shared with the public.

ACC insists that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should hassle the European Union (EU) instead of its members for the health and safety data ACC promised to provide – despite the fact that the chemical industry itself has thrown up major roadblocks to such sharing.  And reaching a new low in tortured logic, ACC argues that, should EPA succeed in getting its hands on the health and safety data submitted to the EU, EPA can and should deny the public access to those data – despite the fact that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) clearly prohibits EPA from withholding such information.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation| Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

ACC missing in action this week, no doubt feeling burned

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

Every day in my email I get the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC’s) “SmartBrief,” a digest of the day’s news related to the chemical industry.  Here’s its self-description:

Designed specifically for American chemistry professionals, ACC SmartBrief is a FREE, daily e-mail news briefing. It provides the latest news and information on the American chemistry industry.

As I noted in my last blog post, all this week the Chicago Tribune has been running one of the biggest stories relating to the chemical industry published in a long, long time.  Titled “Playing with Fire,” it documents in meticulous detail the campaign of deception that producers of chemical flame retardants have foisted on the American public for decades.

One might expect, therefore, that ACC’s SmartBrief this week would be directing its readers – who sign up to keep up with what they need to know that affects the chemical industry – to the Tribune’s series.  One would be wrong.  Nary a mention of this blockbuster story managed to find its way into SmartBrief this week.

It appears that only certain news relevant to SmartBrief’s audience of American chemistry professionals is deemed essential enough to make the cut over at ACC.  SmartBrief readers might need to look elsewhere if they want to know what’s really affecting their industry.

In fact, the only response to be found anywhere on ACC’s website to this week’s major news is this highly oblique press release posted there yesterday.  It makes no mention of the Tribune series, but does affirm the industry’s commitment to safety as a general matter.  And it includes this tidbit:

ACC always strives to conduct its advocacy work in an open and transparent manner.

Oh really?

Posted in Health Science| Also tagged , , | Comments closed

The truth will out: Chemical industry’s deceptive tactics are eventually exposed

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

It’s hard not to get cynical in Washington, DC these days.  Just this past week, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) hosted an ice cream social on Capitol Hill – I kid you not.  ACC’s beckoning slogan:  “Join and learn about the benefits of chlorine chemistry and enjoy a tasty treat.”  I’m told hundreds of House staffers partook of this propaganda fest, at least the tasty treat part.  My initial reaction?  How can health and environmental advocates hope to compete?  Especially if one can successfully curry favor merely by offering a scoop of a staffer’s favorite flavor.

But just as I began to despair, Part I of a major exposé on a far more serious campaign of deception by the chemical industry ran on the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  (Actually, the article occupies virtually the entire front page of today’s edition.)   Read More »

Posted in Health Science, Industry Influence| Also tagged , , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

Smoke and Mirrors: ACC lawyers are working hard to rein in your right to know

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

I’ve blogged here frequently about EPA’s efforts over the past couple of years to make more chemical information available to the public, especially health and safety information.  A key part of this, believe it or not, is simply making sure that when EPA shares a health study with the public – as required by law – you get to know the identity of the chemical that is the subject of that study.

EPA’s initial steps (see below) were met with a little grumbling on the part of the chemical industry, but not a whole lot.  After all, the industry says it wants the public to have more information about chemicals.  At #7 on the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) top 10 principles for TSCA reform is:  “Companies and EPA should work together to enhance public access to chemical health and safety information.”

Times, apparently, have changed.  In recent weeks, ACC has launched a broadside attack on the EPA’s efforts to compel its member companies ever to name a chemical when submitting health and safety information to EPA.  My evidence?  A 36-page White Paper delivered by ACC to the office of the regulatory czar at the Office of Management and Budget, at a meeting held there on January 20.  The ACC document is a wonder of tortured logic, obfuscation and selective renditions of the history of TSCA.

Today, a response was mounted.  EDF and Earthjustice staff, as well as representatives of health-affected individuals, environmental justice communities and workers, held their own meeting with OMB officials.  And we delivered our own letter to OMB that thoroughly rebuts ACC’s White Paper.  It also points out that, way back in 1976, the drafters of TSCA actually wanted you to have access to health and safety information on chemicals – and they darn well didn’t expect you to have to guess at the identity of those chemicalsRead More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation| Also tagged , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

ACC resorts to smear tactics to defend its cash cows, formaldehyde and styrene

Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

An increasingly common tactic in modern bare-knuckle politics is to divert attention away from your own weakness or vulnerability by loudly – and falsely – accusing your opponent of having that very defect you possess but won’t admit to.

That Rovian tactic was on display last week, with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) as the accuser, and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) as its “opponent.”  Mind you, NTP is the nation’s leading authoritative body on cancer-causing chemicals.

The precipitating event?  NTP’s long-overdue release of its 12th Report on Carcinogens (RoC).  Among other additions NTP made since its last report was published way back in 2005, it had the audacity – according to ACC – to:

  • upgrade its classification of formaldehyde to “Known to be a human carcinogen,” from its earlier classification (dating back to 1981) as “Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” and
  • for the first time include styrene on its list of chemicals linked to cancer, classifying it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

The accusation hurled at NTP was this gem from ACC President and CEO, Cal Dooley:

“We are extremely concerned that politics may have hijacked the scientific process and believe this report by HHS is an egregious contradiction to what the President said early in his administration, ‘…That science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my administration…’.”

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black (per the “second, subtler interpretation” of that phrase).

Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Industry Influence, Regulation| Also tagged , , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed
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