Integrity of Occup. and Environm. Reseach Because corporations provide "science for hire, period, and it is extremely lucrative", this editorial serves to bring attention to the undermining of occupational and environmental global public health through the insertion of “knowledge” through mechanisms of corporate malfeasance. Practices of corporate malfeasance include:Contamination of editorial boards of peer-reviewed scientific journals with industry apologists resulting in the publication of poorly-designed research studies that produce biased results that mislead readers and flood the literature with invalid science;
- Interference with the activities of national regulatory bodies (e.g. USEPA, EFSA) and international review panels (e.g. WHO/IARC) and other independent organizations engaged in safeguarding occupational and public health;
- Constructing roadblocks, e.g. by capitalizing on uncertainty to undermine scientific consensus for much-needed government regulation of carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting and/or immunotoxic agents widely present in the workplace and the environment, including air toxics, pesticides and toxic metals;
- The promotion of “causation” criteria that lack foundation and effectively block workers’ access to legal remedies for harms from occupational exposures resulting in morbidity and premature mortality.
- Violating standards of professional conduct by seducing reputable scientists with financial incentives that make them beholden to serve the corporate agenda.
This well-orchestrated assault on science must be met head-on and could be achieved by promoting and protecting the integrity of research. Further, avoiding influence by conflicted corporate affiliates in occupational and public health regulations would be needed. In so doing, the welfare of patients and society through quality medical and public health education would be more assured.
See also most recent articles in Journal of Scientific Practice and Integrity https://www.jospi.org/articles
Publications by Prof. Dr. Xaver Baur:
Baur X, Budnik LT, Ruff K et al. Ethics, morality, and conflicting interests: how questionable professional integrity in some scientists supports global corporate influence in public health. Int J Occup Environ Health 2015; 21: 172-175 Abstract
Baur X. Ethik in der Arbeitsmedizin - Orientierungshilfe in ethischen Spannungsfeldern. Landsberg: ecomed Medizin; 2009
Das deutschsprachige Referenzwerk für ethische Fragen in der Arbeitsmedizin Das Buch macht die Spannungslinien deutlich, denen arbeitsmedizinisch Tätige ausgesetzt sind. Die authentischen Beiträge aus den unterschiedlichen Perspektiven bringen die Interessenverflechtungen und -gegensätze auf den Punkt, die es für Arbeitsmediziner in ihrer "Sandwich"-Position zwischen Arbeitgebern und Arbeitnehmern, Sozialbehörden und Betroffenen, Interessengruppen, in den verschiedenen Gremien und auch in der Forschungsförderung (Drittmittelvergabe) immer wieder gibt. Damit stößt es eine breite Diskussion über die Maßstäbe des rechten Handelns in der Arbeitsmedizin an. Ziel ist es, die Rolle der Arbeits- und Betriebsmedizin immer wieder kritisch zu reflektieren und einen eigenen Standpunkt sowie adäquate Strategien zur Wahrung der Unabhängigkeit in diffizilen Konstellationen zu entwickeln.
Vested interests, whose primary goal is to protect markets for products which frequently have hazardous potentials, are increasingly combined with distortion of science applied in legislation, policy-making, standard-setting and legal proceedings. The Collegium Ramazzini held a panel entitled “Corporate Influence Threatens the Public’s Health” on November 1, 2018, which drew attention to these hazardous malfeasances. Strategies to meet the related ongoing challenges by promoting and protecting the integrity of research, the welfare of patients and society, and the quality of medical/health education, were debated.
Reviewing own conflict of interests? Scientists working for product defence firms, such as Exponent, a scientist working for Bayer, as well, sadly, as scientists working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and for the Canadian government's department of Environment and Climate Change suggest “how to improve research reproducibility, credibility, and transparency” (Mebane CA et al, 2019 in Integr Environ Assess Manag.).
Boffeta again left his conflict of interests undeclared: D. Consonni and C Mensi comment on paper “Boffetta et al. Validation of the diagnosis of mesothelioma and BAP1 protein expression in a cohort of asbestos textile workers from Northern Italy. Ann Oncol 2018; 29(2): 484-489: ... “In conclusion, contrarily to what stated in the paper, a high quality of the RMRP emerges from the available data. Finally, we note that the Authors of the paper (on mesothelioma) have declared no conflict of interests. This is odd, given that two of the Authors in a recent paper (on mesothelioma) reported “Consulting or Advisory Roles” for 4 large companies and one Author declared “Other relationships” with law offices. These companies and law offices are currently involved in litigations regarding asbestos-related diseases” [D. Consonni and C. Mensi, Integr Environ Assess Manag. 2019 Jan 4. doi: 10.1002/ieam.4119. [Epub ahead of print]
Most interesting publications on this issue:
Egilman D, Wallace W, Hom C. Corporate corruption of medical literature: asbestos studies concealed by W.R. Grace & Co. Account Res 1998; 6: 127-147
Lemen RA. Role of government in occupational and environmental health. Int J Occup Environ Health 1999; 5: 283-286
Axelson O, Balbus JM, Cohen G et al. Re: Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Int J Occup Environ Health 2003; 9: 386-389; author reply 389-390
Bailar JC, 3rd, Ballal SG, Boback M et al. FIOH-sponsored newsletter misrepresents asbestos hazards in Zimbabwe. Int J Occup Environ Health 2006; 12: 254-258
Egilman D, Howe S. Against anti-health epidemiology: corporate obstruction of public health via manipulation of epidemiology. Int J Occup Environ Health 2007; 13: 118-124
Baur X, Soskolne CL, Lemen RA et al. How conflicted authors undermine the World Health Organization (WHO) campaign to stop all use of asbestos: spotlight on studies showing that chrysotile is carcinogenic and facilitates other non-cancer asbestos-related diseases. Int J Occup Environ Health 2015; 21: 176-179
Welch LS. Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, but not this asbestos exposure: an amicus brief to the Michigan Supreme Court. Int J Occup Environ Health 2007; 13: 318-327
Oreskes N, Conway EM. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloombury Press, 2011
Michaels D. Doubt Is Their Product How Industrys Assault On Science Threatens Your Health. New York: Oxford University Press; 2016