In the 21st century, corporations have worked their way into government and, as they become increasingly more powerful, arguments about their involvement with public health have become increasingly black and white. With corporations at the center of public health and environmental issues, everything chemical or technological is good, everything natural is bad; scientists who are funded by corporations are right and those who are independent are invariably wrong. There is diminishing common ground between the two opposed sides in these arguments.
Corporate Ties that Bind is a collection of essays written by influential academic scholars, activists, and epidemiologists from around the world that scrutinize the corporate reasoning, false science and trickery involving those, like in-house epidemiologists, who mediate the scientific message of organizations who attack and censure independent voices. This book addresses how the growth of corporatism is destroying liberal democracy and personal choice.
Whether addressing asbestos, radiation, PCBs, or vaccine regulation, the essays here address the dangers of trusting corporations, and uncover the lengths to which corporations put profits before health.
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About the Author
MARTIN J. WALKER is a British activist, investigator, and writer. Since 1990, he has focused on lobby groups and the influence of multinational corporations on medicine, medical research, and public health. Walker contributed to Lennart Hardell’s paper “Secret Ties to Industry and Conflicting Interests in Cancer Research,” which appeared in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine and led to Walker, Hardell, and the late Bo Walhjalt producing this book.
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A DARK CULTURE — THE HISTORY AND LITERATURE OF HEALTH-DAMAGING PRODUCTION, ITS EXPOSURE, AND ITS CORPORATE DEFENSE
Martin J. Walker
Day and night the telescreens bruised your ears with statistics Proving that people today had more food, more clothes, Better houses, better recreations — that they lived longer, happier, more intelligent, better educated than the people of fifty years ago. Not a word of it could ever be proved or disproved.
Alex Carey's posthumous book, Taking the Risk out of Democracy, subtitled Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty, was published in 1995. Carey was a class-conscious Australian who for the last forty years of his life lectured mainly in industrial psychology and the psychology of propaganda. He realized, more than most, how industrialization had passed the door marked "Democracy" and was heading for rooms bare of choice.
Carey's book, a collection of published and unpublished chapters, gives a framework through which to view the problems of industry penetration of civil society and political democracy. The book throws open the political and cultural reasons for the drift of capitalism and representative democracy toward totalitarian corporatism. Carey's most famous quote is popularized by Noam Chomsky in the forward of Chomsky's book, World Orders Old and New:
The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
The following book principally focuses on the problem of distorted science or scientific information by those working directly for corporate interests. However, distorting epidemiology or other information and, as McGarity and Wagner term it, Bending Science in order to ensure profit regardless of damage to workers, citizens, and the environment is not an isolated pursuit that takes place only within a refined academic environment.
The questions surveyed by science and open to reporting misinformation are not only questions of health and physical damage; they are also political questions. For example, while the matter of human microchipping undoubtedly has a health aspect that research by corporate insiders might attempt to skate over, the political question of control of the social person is undoubtedly at the forefront of any debate and is perhaps more difficult for the corporations to argue, leading to more aggressive strategies to quiet any discourse.
Whether or not microchipping causes health damage, it is something that has to be contested or at least debated by a "free people" in a democracy. However, many health studies suggest it is not safe. Only a universal political campaign will take it off the corporate agenda; this same argument applies to other campaigns, such as that against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
All techniques of propaganda exist within a social, economic, political, and cultural matrix, and it is important that those opposed to a corporate future realize this; otherwise, conflicts will be confined to the narrowest of criteria. Unfortunately it might be said that because of the nature of contemporary politics and the high technology means of production, the greatest of attention is paid by critics and reformers to the general situation of "censorship" and "disinformation" in occupational and public health "science" while such matters as the havoc wrought by the pharmaceutical cartels on, for instance, independent, natural forms of personal medicine have all but been written out of contemporary scientific history.
While the "scientists" who are victims of attacks use the language of science to defend themselves, the corporations frequently negate or completely abandon science in their attacks. Although, for example, there is no lack of science with which to address alternative therapies such as acupuncture and homeopathy, the pharmaceutical corporations, defending mass deaths from medicines, win without effort or proof by labeling practices as fraudulent, quackery, or simply of no therapeutic use.
The battles of clinical and research "scientists" with corporate industry and government have begun to hog the stage in the war with corporatism. Is it important to understand the scale and the "ballpark" of corporate industry's campaign to stop competition and the critical appraisal of products? Is it important to understand the distortion of information sociologically, historically, beyond science? I argue in this chapter that unless we understand the nature, the magnitude, and the strategies of corporations, we will be unsuccessful in challenging their illegality, immorality, and unethical behavior. After all, the strategies of the corporations are not only aimed at scientists, but at cutting-edge writers, campaigners, activists, and whistle-blowers, and, for example, medical practitioners who would not consider themselves first and foremost as "scientists."
The interesting juxtaposition of two reports emphasizes this concern about plausibility and recognition of the different streams of struggle involving corporations. "Heads They Win, Tails, We Lose: How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public's Expense," was published by the Scientific Integrity Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2012. It is an excellent report that depicts in detail the whole bag of tricks used by corporations to censor views and research results critical of corporate science, toxic production, and their effects upon health. While the report's message is radical, its apparent reliance upon the regulatory, political, and scientific establishment to solve or ameliorate the problems faced by science and scientists leaves one feeling that the scientific community has partially failed to understand the nature of corporatism.
The second report, "Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations," although sounding like a completely different report, in fact, addresses a very similar subject. It was published in 2013 by a single author, Gary Ruskin, with a PO Box number address in Washington, DC. Ruskin's very thorough research deals with the gathering of intelligence to inform attacks or containment on critics of corporations. One could say that this report deals with the groundwork that corporations carry out in order to campaign against individuals or groups.
The tactics outlined in the report are obviously used by and against people working well beyond the area of clinical or research science. I immediately recognized some of the tactics that had been used against me by pharmaceutical companies. "Spooky Business" tells the story of an intelligence community moving from the sanctuary of the dingy halls of the state to the more polished halls of the corporations. They are doing the same work for the private sector and their new targets are very similar, but now they are almost entirely those who critique corporations. "Spooky Business" updates one aspect of David Helvarg's brilliant book, The War Against the Greens, and reports a new wholly more sophisticated war that is being developed by corporatism against democratic protest.
The report traces the growth of domestic private intelligence, which has grown up against any kind of opposition to corporations. It points to the fact that this domestic war economy is staffed by ex-police, federal agents, and the most skilled crisis PR management companies, all of whom have been headhunted and poached by corporations and now have high-technology apparatus that are more sophisticated than those used by the US state.
Clearly independent scientists, clinical and academic, are to some extent burying their heads in the sand if they think that opposition to corporatism can succeed with a war fought only in the theater of scientific research.
Long before industrialization covered the developed world, there had been critics of the emergent industrial means of production. Bernardino Ramazzini (1633–1717) wrote the first cogent treatise on occupational health, which examined the potential sources of illness in more than forty-two occupations, both manual and sedentary. Titled De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (Diseases of Workers), it was published in 1700. Ramazzini seemed to have faced little opposition to his accurate ideas about the damage done to workers by their working environment, and accepted as a teacher by two of Italy's best universities, he was highly respected academically.
One of Ramazzini's most quoted statements, however — "'Tis a sordid profit that is accompanied by the destruction of health" — and even his choice of subject to study hints at his concern about the workers and the moral stance of those who organized production. On other issues in Ramazzini's medical life, such as a cautious approach to the prescription of medicines, Ramazzini, a trained physician, did face opposition from the monopoly makers, sellers and providers of drugs, the apothecaries. When Ramazzini campaigned for the limited use of cinchona bark (from which the alkaloid quinine was derived) in the treatment of malaria, he was fought by the apothecaries who had been using the remedy in a typically "orthodox" manner for all kinds of fevers and making good profits from it. He also faced opposition from the ruling elite in medicine who were still following the idea of classic Greek physician, Galen, that all diseases were based on a balance of the humors.
The turf wars in medicine between the apothecaries — the faint beginnings of the pharmaceutical industry — and independent healers were entrenched by the Inquisition of the late seventeenth century, which chose to see herbalism, for example, as diabolical. One of the first victims of these wars, although not apparently affected by the Inquisition, was Samuel Hahnemann, a trained physician born in Germany in 1755, who developed the theory and practice of homeopathy. At the time of his birth, treatments and diagnoses were chaotic from what we might today call a "rational perspective." There was no organized diagnostic procedure or treatment in the mid-eighteenth century; court physicians and other professionals believed in a ragbag of treatments from bloodletting and magic to a wide range of herbal and chemical elixirs that had rarely been tested.
Despite that today Hahnemann is ridiculed and derided, especially in the United Kingdom, he established himself prominently at the end of the eighteenth century as a scientific physician and medical researcher. He developed the already considered concept of "like curing like" and used a systematic and rigorous proving of a wide variety of natural substances on a large number of individuals.
Having chosen a substance that seemed likely to act as a cure, he would send out samples to students and colleagues with instructions for taking various quantities and to send back meticulous reports of all physical or psychological effects, a kind of scientific trial that was completely unknown for medicines at that time.
Hahnemann's most fundamental idea that has stayed relevant until the present day was that if you examined in detail the effects of a particular substance on the human mind and body, that substance could be used to "cure" those same effects when they were presented by a patient as an illness. What, however, was novel about Hahnemann's ideas for treatment, and what has attracted considerable attention since the late eighteenth century, for obvious reasons, was the idea that only the smallest dilution of the remedy was necessary to effect a cure.
Hahnemann came under heavy attack from the apothecaries who saw this rationally tried medicine as a serious threat to their irrational tricks. Also, of course, even at that time, money was a driving force of the apothecaries. Although training in homeopathy could take some time, the remedies themselves were cheap to produce and prescribe, or even free through a homeopathic hospital. Toward the end of his life Hahnemann came under severe attack.
His attitude to those who attacked him was clear. In a letter to a colleague, he wrote, "What is true cannot be minted into a falsehood, even by the most distinguished professor." Seven years after this letter, he wrote the paragraph below, which stands as good advice today when facing shills on social media. Speaking of a colleague who was defending homeopathy, he wrote the following:
I regret, however, that he should spend so much time and headwork on these sophistries. Believe me, all these attacks only weary the assailants of truth, and, in the long run, are no obstacle to its progress. We do well to let all these, specious, but nugatory articles alone, to sink of themselves into the abyss of oblivion, and their natural nothingness ... All these controversial writings are nothing but signals of distress — alarm guns fired from a sinking ship.
The scale, irrationality, and insensibility of these attacks on Hahnemann are evident in an 1825 quote from Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, the most influential medical writer of that time, in an article about homeopathy:
I consider it wrong and unworthy of science to treat the new doctrine with ridicule and contempt. It is in my nature to lend a helping hand to the persecuted. Persecution and tyranny in scientific matters are especially repugnant to me.
The apothecaries, however, were determined to forge their monopoly and when they had done this, determined to enforce it. In his 1861 book, The History and Heroes of the Art of Medicine, J. Rutherfurd Russell traces the early attacks by the apothecaries on Hahnemann:
The proverb says that "any stick is good enough to beat a dog," and the first stick the German apothecaries took up was a legal one. There was an enactment which prevented physicians from compounding their own medicines; this was brought to bear against Hahnemann and although he pleaded that he never actually mixed even two medicines, and that the law was never intended for such a practice as his, yet the stick came down on his back and he had to leave Leipzig in consequence.
During the nineteenth century, both "orthodox" doctors and those who had gone over to homeopathy were pitted against recurring cholera epidemics that occurred across Europe. In the London cholera epidemic of 1854, of the 331 cases of cholera and simple diarrhea treated at the London Homeopathic Hospital, there was a 16.4 percent mortality rate. The neighboring Middlesex Hospital received 231 cases of cholera and 47 cases of choleric diarrhea. Of the cholera patients treated, 123 died, a fatality rate of 59.2 percent.
In 1855, the treatment committee of the Board of Health compiled its major report for Parliament on cholera and its treatment. The treatment committee agreed among themselves to exclude the London Homeopathic Hospital statistics as they would "compromise the values and utilities of their average of cure, as deduced from the operation of known treatments, but they would give an unjustifiable sanction to an empirical practice alike opposed to the maintenance of truth, and to the progress of science."
In a House of Commons debate on cholera in 1855, based on the report, Robert Grosvenor 1st Baron Ebury asks whether the Board of Health forms received from homeopaths were refused on receipt. Benjamin Hall replied that those forms returned by homeopaths had been systematically identified and excluded from the report.
Perhaps one of the most transparent, even juvenile, attacks on homeopathy was practiced against Jacques Benveniste. Benveniste, a well-regarded researcher at INSERM, was the author of four papers previously published in Nature and some two hundred scientific articles, two of which were cited as "citation classics" by the Philadelphia Institute for Scientific Information.
In 1988, Benveniste submitted a paper titled "Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE" to Nature, which suggested that water conveyed the information of even greatly diluted substances and affected IgE. Benveniste waited a year for their agreement to publish.
The paper was published, but was accompanied by a disclaiming editorial by John Maddox, a leading pro-corporate skeptic. Soon after publication, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) began harassing Benveniste. Despite the fact that other scientists in other laboratories replicated his results, CSICOP pressured Benveniste into giving them permission to send a team to "investigate" his experiments.
When James Randi — the showman magician with no science experience funded specifically to campaign against alternative medicine — turned up with John Maddox and the American, Walter Stuart, they behaved like three of the Marx brothers and proceeded to write up the results of their "research" for Nature.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Corporate Ties That Bind"
Copyright © 2017 Martin J. Walker.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
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Table of Contents
Preface David O. Carpenter ix
Chapter 1 A Dark Culture-the History and Literature of Health-Damaging Production, its Exposure, and its Corporate Defense Martin J. Walker 1
Chapter 2 The Basis of Bad Science David Egilman Susanna Rankin Bohme Lelia M. Menéndez John Zorabedian 41
Chapter 3 A Battleground-From Phenoxyacetic Acids, Chlorophenols and Dioxins to Mobile Phones-Cancer Risks, Greenwashing and Vested Interests Lennart Hardell 69
Chapter 4 Losing the War on Cancer Richard Clapp 89
Chapter 5 Greenwashing: The Swedish Experience Bo Walhjalt 96
Chapter 6 Industry Influences on Cancer Epidemiology Neil Pearce 109
Chapter 7 Serving Industry, Promoting Skepticism, Discrediting Epidemiology Kathleen Ruff 119
Chapter 8 Secret Ties in Asbestos-Downplaying and Effacing the Risks of a Toxic Mineral Geoffrey Tweedale 136
Chapter 9 Kidding a Kidder Martin J. Walker 152
Chapter 10 Escaping Electrosensitivity Christian Blom 180
Chapter 11 Ignoring Chronic Illness Caused by New Chemicals and Technology Gunni Nordström 200
Chapter 12 A Tale of Two Scientists: Doctor Alice Stewart and Sir Richard Doll Gayle Greene 225
Chapter 13 The Corporate Hijacking of the UK Vaccine Program Martin J. Walker 251
Chapter 14 Exponent and Dioxin in Sweden in the Early 2000s Bo Walhjalt Martin J. Walker 266
Chapter 15 Burying the Evidence-The Role of Britain's Health and Safety Executive in Prolonging the Occupational Cancer Epidemic Rory O'Neill Simon Pickvance Andrew Watterson 277
Chapter 16 Spin in the Antipodes-A History of Industry Involvement in Telecommunications Health Research in Australia Don Maisch 292
Chapter 17 Westlakes Research Institute Janine Allis-Smith 322
Chapter 18 Wilhelm Hueper and Robert Kehoe, Epidemiological War Crimes Devra Davis 347
Chapter 19 The Precautionary Principle Pierre Mallia 363
Chapter 20 The Precautionary Principle in the Protection of Wildlife-the Tasmanian Devils and the Beluga Whales Jody Warren 379
Chapter 21 Dust, Labor, and Capital-Silicosis among South Africa's Gold Miners Jock McCulloch 403
Chapter 22 Community Epidemiology Andrew Watterson 413
Chapter 23 Downplaying Radiation Risk Nicola Wright 420
Chapter 24 You Have Cancer: It's Your Fault Janette Sherman 447