Under the Influence -- Is Industry an Inside Player
at the Leading Carcinogen Research Center?
OnEarth (Natural Resources Defense Council); Fall 2002
Jon Luoma writes of efforts by the tobacco industry and others to influence the work of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Long considered "unassailable" in its scientific objectivity and credibility, the IARC, based in Lyons, France, is a unit of the World Health Organization that gets funding from the National Cancer Institute. Luoma tells of a troubling trend over the last decade, with industry-paid representatives more and more often sitting on panels that vote on scientific decisions on carcinogenicity, while scientists working for environmental groups are locked out of the room. The trend, Luoma writes, goes well beyond the IARC. "In 1996, the New England Journal of Medicine decided it would no longer publish review articles -- which, like IARC panels, require selection and interpretation of a spectrum of research -- by authors with any financial links to companies making the product being discussed. Last year, the journal weakened its policy, saying it was having trouble finding authors."