Money Runs Science and Medicine
Research and regulatory actions are rife with conflict of interest
Many, if not all, of our regulatory agencies have a long history of protecting industry interests over public and environmental health. In the first week of November 2015, Jonathan Lundgren, who spent the past 11 years working as an entomologist at the USFDA (US Food and Drug Administration), filed a whistleblower complaint against the agency, “claiming he’d suffered retaliation after speaking out about research showing that neonicotinoids had adverse effects on bees.” In the US, nearly all corn, about 90% of canola and, approximately, half of all soybeans are treated with neonicotinoids. As the use of these pesticides has gone up, bee and Monarch butterfly populations have plummeted. USFDA managers blocked publication of his research, barred him from talking to the media and disrupted operations at the laboratory he oversaw. That is what Lundgren complains, according to the Washington Post article.
USFDA is all for genetically engineered seeds, etc, while true science says that genetically engineered seeds could be deadly, in the long run. The story is the same in India. When we stopped using PL480 funds for agricultural imports, we decided, rightly so, to be self-reliant, that led to the Green Revolution. However, while the late C Subramanian, a great son of India, was passionate about it, his scientific advisers must have been working under instructions from their masters in the West. They succeeded in going headlong on to use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides which, today, has brought us to almost total land and water degradation due to chemicals and fertilisers. Our soil is losing all its fertility. Thanks to that, we have vitiated our environment so much that newer diseases are invading us.
The industry, on its part, is trying its best to keep its hold on the powers that be through devious means. The same holds good for medical research in the country which is under the control of vested groups in the industry. Real science is going to be destroyed. A recent study showed more than 200 dangerous chemicals in a newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood!
While you would think that the governments exist to protect you against the vagaries of industry, this is not the case. The chemical, agricultural, and medical drug industries spend millions of dollars to lobby for regulations that are favourable to them and there is a constantly revolving door between government watchdog agencies and private corporations all over the world. The New York Times recently published an in-depth exposé on the legal battle fought against DuPont for the past 15 years over chemical contamination and its toxic effects on human health.    
We were taught, in school and college, that science can help us make rational decisions that serve the people and promote public health. “But now we are facing a world so rife with corruption and conflict of interest facilitated by the very sciences that were supposed to keep us healthy, safe, and productive, it’s quite clear that we’re heading toward more than one proverbial brick wall,” writes Dr Joseph Mercola on his website He goes on: “In a sense, the fundamental role of science itself has been hijacked for selfish gain. Looking back, you can now see that the preferred business model of an industry was created first, followed by ‘scientific evidence’ that supports the established business model. When the science doesn’t support the company’s economic gains, it’s swept under the rug, even if people are dying and the planet is becoming irreparably poisoned as a result. Today, we live in a world where chemical companies and biotech giants can easily buy and pay for their own research studies, as well as the lobbying to support whatever legislation they need passed in their favour.”
I have been trying my best to bring out the secrets about this dangerous marriage between industry and the powers that be, without much impact. Unless we have total transparency in research, this dangerous corruption can never be detected and corrected. Money runs this world—science and medicine included. Putting an end to the revolving door between private industry and government would be one step in the right direction.
Mahesh D. Bakhai
6 years ago
The author is absolutely right. Neither the regulators nor the media is evaluating the damage to our environment and life style from so called scientific advances. Media should come out and support such exposures. Mahesh Bakhai
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