John Horgan is a science journalist who recently spoke at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS) from May 12-15 in New York City. His speech has been republished in Scientific American:
I hate preaching to the converted. If you were Buddhists, I’d bash Buddhism. But you’re skeptics, so I have to bash skepticism.
I’m a science journalist. I don’t celebrate science, I criticize it, because science needs critics more than cheerleaders. I point out gaps between scientific hype and reality. That keeps me busy, because, as you know, most peer-reviewed scientific claims are wrong.
So I’m a skeptic, but with a small S, not capital S. I don’t belong to skeptical societies. I don’t hang out with people who self-identify as capital-S Skeptics. Or Atheists. Or Rationalists.
When people like this get together, they become tribal. They pat each other on the back and tell each other how smart they are compared to those outside the tribe. But belonging to a tribe often makes you dumber.
Here’s an example involving two idols of Capital-S Skepticism: biologist Richard Dawkins and physicist Lawrence Krauss. Krauss recently wrote a book, A Universe from Nothing. He claims that physics is answering the old question, Why is there something rather than nothing?
Krauss’s book doesn’t come close to fulfilling the promise of its title, but Dawkins loved it. He writes in the book’s afterword: “If On the Origin of Species was biology’s deadliest blow to supernaturalism, we may come to see A Universe From Nothing as the equivalent from cosmology.”
Just to be clear: Dawkins is comparing Lawrence Krauss to Charles Darwin. Why would Dawkins say something so foolish? Because he hates religion so much that it impairs his scientific judgment. He succumbs to what you might call “The Science Delusion.”
“The Science Delusion” is common among Capital-S Skeptics. You don’t apply your skepticism equally. You are extremely critical of belief in God, ghosts, heaven, ESP, astrology, homeopathy and Bigfoot. You also attackdisbelief in global warming, vaccines and genetically modified food.
These beliefs and disbeliefs deserve criticism, but they are what I call “soft targets.” That’s because, for the most part, you’re bashing people outside your tribe, who ignore you. You end up preaching to the converted.
Meanwhile, you neglect what I call hard targets. These are dubious and even harmful claims promoted by major scientists and institutions. In the rest of this talk, I’ll give you examples of hard targets from physics, medicine and biology. I’ll wrap up with a rant about war, the hardest target of all.
In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public. Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.
In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”
This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.
Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.
- Cultural production of ignorance provides rich field for study
- Meet the ‘Merchants of Doubt’ Who Sow Confusion about Tobacco Smoke and Climate Change
- ExxonMobil gave millions to climate-denying lawmakers despite pledge
- “Dark Money” Funds Climate Change Denial Effort
- Smoked out: tobacco giant’s war on science
- From tobacco to climate change, ‘merchants of doubt’ undermined the science
- The Denial Industry
- Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (Book)
- Toxic Sludge is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies, and the Public Relations Industry (Book)
- Trust Us, We’re Experts!: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future (Book)
- Agnotology: The Study of Ignorance
- Merchants of Doubt
“Irradiated,” a special report published today by McClatchy, offers an unprecedented look at the costs of war and the risks of a strong defense, using federal records to chronicle the deaths of at least 33,480 nuclear workers who helped the U.S. win World War II and the Cold War.
The number of deaths has never been disclosed by federal officials. It’s more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it looms large as the nation prepares for its second nuclear age, with a $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons over the next 30 years.
McClatchy determined the count after analyzing more than 70 million records in a database obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor under the Freedom of Information Act. It includes all workers who are dead after they or their survivors received compensation under a special fund created in 2001 to help those who got sick in the construction of America’s nuclear arsenal.
A total of 107,394 workers have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. The project includes an interactive database that offers details on all 107,394 workers.
McClatchy’s yearlong investigation, set in 10 states, puts readers in the living rooms of sick workers in South Carolina, on a picket line in Texas and at a cemetery in Tennessee. It includes interviews with more than 100 workers, government officials, experts and activists and across the country.
- America’s modernized nuclear arms roil diplomatic waters
- Russia pledges counter measures if U.S. upgrades nuclear arms in Germany
- America’s new, more ‘usable’, nuclear bomb in Europe
- B61-12: The Most Dangerous Nuclear Weapon in America’s Arsenal
- Obama pledged to reduce nuclear arsenal, then came this weapon
- B61-12: US Air Force drops dummy nuclear bomb in Nevada
- Flight Test of America’s Newest Nuclear Bomb B61-12
- Russia slams US test of B61-12 atomic bomb as ‘provocative’
- Mr. President, kill the new cruise missile
- A revolving door in the nuclear weapons industry
- Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: U.S. No. 1!
- SIPRI: Nuclear forces reduced but modernisations continue, global estimate at 16,300 warheads
- Avoiding the Unthinkable: Preventing a US-China Nuclear War
- US officials consider nuclear strikes against Russia
- The Case for Tactical Nuclear Weapons
- No Longer Unthinkable: Should US Ready For ‘Limited’ Nuclear War?
- NDAA 2013: Section 1063 on the use of “conventional and or nuclear forces”
- Why Nukes are the Most Urgent Environmental Threat
- The Nukes We Need: Preserving the American Deterrent
- Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told
- Climate threat from nuclear bombs
- Pre-emptive nuclear strike
[…] Pinkwashing, as some breast cancer activists call it, has become an October rite, to “raise awareness” of breast cancer during what has for years been called National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Those who promote the pink campaigns say they raise millions of dollars to fight the disease.
“When I see Delta flight attendants dressed in pink, I thank them,” said Daniela Campari, senior vice president for marketing at the American Cancer Society.
But many women with breast cancer hate the spectacle. “I call it the puke campaign,” said Marlene McCarthy, the director of the Rhode Island Breast Cancer Coalition, who has metastatic breast cancer.
“Breast cancer awareness,” critics charge, has become a sort of feel-good catchall, associated with screening and early detection, and the ubiquitous pink a marketing opportunity for companies of all types. For all the awareness, they note, breast cancer incidence has been nearly flat and there still is no cure for women whose cancer has spread beyond the breast to other organs, like the liver or bones.
“What do we have to show for the billions spent on pink ribbon products?” asked Karuna Jaggar, the executive director of Breast Cancer Action, an activist group whose slogan is “Think before you pink.”
She concluded: “A lot of us are done with awareness. We want action.”
How the British Government subjected thousands of people to chemical and biological warfare trials during Cold War
‘During the Cold War, the British Government used the general public as unwitting biological and chemical warfare guinea pigs on a much greater scale than previously thought, according to new historical research.
In more than 750 secret operations, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons were subjected to ‘mock’ biological and chemical warfare attacks launched from aircraft, ships and road vehicles.
Up until now historians had thought that such operations had been much less extensive. The new research, carried out by Ulf Schmidt, Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, has revealed that British military aircraft dropped thousands of kilos of a chemical of ‘largely unknown toxic potential’ on British civilian populations in and around Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cardington in Bedfordshire and Norwich in Norfolk.
Substantial quantities were also dispersed across parts of the English Channel and the North Sea. It’s not known the extent to which coastal towns in England and France were affected.
The research reveals, for the first time, that around 4600 kilos of the chemical, zinc cadmium sulphide (now thought to be potentially carcinogenic, on account of its cadmium content) were dispersed from ships, aircraft and moving lorries between 1953 and 1964.’
- Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments (Book)
- ‘One of the largest human experiments in history’ was conducted on unsuspecting residents of San Francisco
- Blood & Fog: The Military’s Germ Warfare Tests in San Francisco
- Cold War at Porton Down: Informed Consent in Britain’s Biological and Chemical Warfare Experiments
- Clouds of Secrecy: 2006 BBC Documentary
- The past Porton Down can’t hide
- Hidden history of US germ testing
- Millions were in germ war tests
- Porton Down used soldiers for Sarin gas tests in 1983
- Porton Down scientists face charges over 1950s experiments
- Of Microbes and Mock Attacks: Years Ago, The Military Sprayed Germs on U.S. Cities
- Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas (Book)
- Army Conducted 239 Secret, Open-Air Germ Warfare Tests
‘Lots of chemicals are considered safe in low doses. But what happens when you ingest a little bit of a lot of different chemicals over time?
In some cases, these combinations may conspire to increase your risk of cancer, according to a new report.
“Many [chemicals] have the possibility, when they are combined, to cause the initiation of cancer,” said Hemad Yasaei, a cancer biologist at Brunel University in England, one of the authors of the report. “They could have a synergistic or enhanced effect.”
This is not the way regulators typically think about cancer risk when they evaluate a compound’s safety.’
‘Thanks to tobacco industry regulations and marketing restrictions in the US, smoking rates have dropped dramatically. John Oliver explains how tobacco companies are keeping their business strong overseas.’ (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver)
- Big tobacco accused of flooding foreign markets to encourage smuggling to help fight against tax rises
- Big Tobacco fights back: how the cigarette kings bought the vaping industry
- If the law favours Big Tobacco over taxpayers, then the law is a disgrace
- Big Tobacco puts countries on trial as concerns over TTIP deals mount
- When Corporations Sue Countries For Profit
- ISDS: The devil in the trade deal
- BMJ to ban research funded by the tobacco industry
- Tobacco companies obstructed science, history
- Tobacco industry – SourceWatch
- Tobacco industry – Wikipedia
‘Victor Gaydack is now in his 70s and lives in a Kiev suburb. In April 1986 he was a major in the Russian army, on duty when reactor four at Chernobyl exploded. He was one of tens of thousands of fit, young “liquidators” sent in from all over the Soviet Union to try to make safe the stricken reactor. Since the accident, Gaydack has suffered two heart attacks, and developed severe stomach cancer.
Who is to say that Gaydack’s conditions were not caused by the accident or would have happened without the explosion? Or that the many mentally disabled Belarussian children and the thousands of people born in the fallout region who today suffer from thyroid cancers and congenital diseases were not also Chernobyl victims? Estimates of the eventual deaths, cancers, heart diseases, ailments and malformations that will eventually result from the accident vary enormously and are still bitterly contested by scientists.
What is certain is that about 350,000 people like Gaydack were evacuated and resettled from the high-level 2,600 square kilometre contamination zone that stretches from Ukraine into Belarus and Russia. It is certain, too, that the accident cost tens of billions of dollars in today’s money and that the area around the plant will be psychologically cursed for hundreds, if not tens of thousands of years.
What has been less understood however is that Chernobyl changed the course of the world’s history and that its long shadow will hang over nuclear power for centuries. In an essay in National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig’s new book of the aftermath of the accident, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union and on whose watch Chernobyl occurred, makes it clear – not for the first time – that the accident greatly accelerated the end of Soviet Union.’
- Chernobyl arch faces €265m funding gap ahead of disaster’s 29th anniversary
- 5 Reasons Why the Chernobyl Disaster Got So Out of Control
- Chernobyl and the Fire Next Time
- Cameras reveal the secret lives of Chernobyl’s wildlife
- It’s hot: Chernobyl now a tourist zone
- Forest Fires Threaten New Fallout From Chernobyl
- The long shadow of Chernobyl
- Photos: The Chernobyl Disaster
- UN accused of ignoring 500,000 Chernobyl deaths
- Chernobyl Heart (Documentary)
- Chernobyl disaster – Wikipedia
- Pink Ribbons, Inc. (Trailer)
- Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy (Book)
- The NFL’s breast cancer scam sells bunk science to profit off pink clothes
- Breast cancer mammograms: overrated – and over-diagnosing women
- Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health (Book)
‘[…] Over the last year, Big Tobacco has made major inroads into the $3 billion e-cigarette market with major companies like Altria and Reynolds American releasing their own e-cig brands. At the same time, they have taken on an unlikely role as champions for public health. Industry leaders have been lobbying hard for any negative health effects of e-cigarettes to be publicized and for people to switch over to this purportedly less-harmful smoking alternative. This week, the CEOs of Reynolds and Lorillard, two of the country’s largest tobacco companies, urged the FDA to move faster to regulate the burgeoning industry, citing concerns that e-cig users were relying on cheap, low-quality products purchased online and imported from China.
That’s right: the leaders of an industry that sells a product that kills some 480,000 Americans every year are now in a panic to warn consumers about the health risks of smoking. It is a remarkable about-face. So what’s in it for them?’
- CDC: Smoking kills around 480,000 Americans every year
- Who Knew What and When?
- E-cigarette Sales Surpass $1 Billion As Big Tobacco Moves In
- Tobacco CEOs Push FDA to Adopt E-Cig Rules More Quickly
- Why Is Big Tobacco Taking Stock in E-Cigarettes?
- Quality issues push e-cigarette production to U.S. from China
- Big Tobacco’s E-Cigarette Push Gets a Reality Check
- Grain of salt with Big Tobacco’s e-cig warning
- Dire Warnings by Big Tobacco on E-Smoking
- Big tobacco companies are putting big warning labels on their e-cigarettes
- Big Tobacco is cool with scary e-cigarette warnings because no one reads them anyway
- Study of smoking cancer patients fuels e-cigarette debate
- It’s Disturbing That Health Advocates Are Against E-Cigs That Save Lives
- Some E-Cigarettes Deliver a Puff of Carcinogens
- The battle over e-cigarettes
‘Canadian documentary photographer Michelle Siu records “vulnerable people and disenfranchised cultures.” In the past that has meant the First Nations people of Lake St. Martin in Manitoba, who have been displaced from their land by flooding, or the destruction wrought upon the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan. In her series, “Marlboro Boys,” the disaster is man-made.’
‘A range of scientific studies at Fukushima have begun to reveal the impact on the natural world from the radiation leaks at the power station in Japan caused by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Biological samples were obtained only after extensive delays following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown, limiting the information which could be gained about the impact of that disaster. Scientists, determined not to repeat the shortcomings of the Chernobyl studies, began gathering biological information only a few months after the meltdown of the Daiichi power plant in 2011.
Results of these studies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds. A series of articles summarising these studies has now been published in the Journal of Heredity. These describe widespread impacts, ranging from population declines to genetic damage to responses by the repair mechanisms that help organisms cope with radiation exposure. “A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” says Dr Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, lead author of one of the studies.’
- The Fukushima Health Crisis: Why New Studies Are Needed Now!
- Study: Japanese monkeys’ abnormal blood linked to Fukushima disaster
- Abnormal changes in small birds and the role of science
- Harvey Wasserman: Fukushima’s Children are Dying
- Global Physicians Issue Scathing Critique of UN Report on Fukushima
- UN Report: Fukushima radiation ‘unlikely’ to increase cancer rates
- Trace Levels of Fukushima Disaster Radionuclides in East Pacific Albacore
- Navy sailor suffering after Fukushima exposure: Others with same symptoms “told to be quiet”
- Ailing U.S. Sailors Sue TEPCO After Exposure to Radiation 30x Higher Than Normal
- U.S. sailors sue Tepco for $1 billion over alleged radiation exposure
- Radiation damage at the root of Chernobyl’s ecosystems
‘The 9/11 Museum has been drawing criticism from first responders upset with the way its exhibits portray those who suffered in the aftermath of the terror attacks. One of the most moving complaints came from an NYPD officer who became ill with cancer after working at Ground Zero.
In a letter addressed to 9/11 Museum President Joe Daniels, Reginald Hilaire expressed his dismay that the exhibit did not properly acknowledge the serious illnesses and deaths among responders.
“There are no listing of names or even a sentence that people died from 9/11 related illnesses,” he wrote. “The federal government has recognized a link with illnesses and work at the WTC and Staten Island landfill, but the 9/11 Museum mentioned very little.”’
‘A jury in Florida has awarded the widow of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer 18 years ago record punitive damages of more than $23bn against America’s second-biggest cigarette maker, RJ Reynolds. The judgment, returned on Friday night, was the largest in Florida history in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a single plaintiff, said Ryan Julison, a spokesman for the woman’s lawyer, Chris Chestnut.
Cynthia Robinson, of Pensacola, sued the cigarette maker in 2008 over the death of her husband, Michael Johnson, claiming the company conspired to conceal the health dangers and addictive nature of its products. Johnson, a hotel shuttle-bus driver who died of lung cancer in 1996 aged 36, smoked between one and three packets a day for more 20 years, starting at age 13, Chestnut said. “He couldn’t quit. He was smoking the day he died,” the lawyer told Reuters on Saturday.’
‘The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been forced to abandon attempts to block a report by government advisers warning that radioactive contamination of military sites across the UK could pose a risk to public health. The report was submitted for publication last October by the 18-member Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (Comare). To the frustration of its authors and the Scottish government, UK ministers have sat on it for the past six months after objections from the MoD. But after the 75-page report was leaked to the Guardian, a decision was taken in Whitehall on Tuesday to publish it early next week. It will reveal that Comare is concerned about radium contamination from the second world war at Dalgety Bay in Fife and at least 25 other sites across the UK.’
‘Kids under 18 can’t buy cigarettes in the U.S., but they can legally work in tobacco fields when they’re as young as 12. One of those kids is Eddie Ramirez, 15, who works the fields in the summer. “It just sticks to my hand,” he says of the plant. “It’s really sticky, you know, and really yellow.” It’s nearly impossible to wash off, he says.
A new report from Human Rights Watch says the practice of children farming tobacco is hazardous and should be stopped. The group interviewed more than 140 kids in 2012 and 2013, including Eddie, who work on tobacco farms in the South. From the sparse mobile home he shares with his mother in Snow Hill, N.C., Eddie describes feeling lightheaded and queasy after a 12-hour day in the tobacco fields.’
A wave of Wall Street stockbrokers and traders are coming down with cancers blamed on the toxic dust and smoke of 9/11. They’re joining ill Ground Zero first-responders in seeking payments from the $2.7 billion federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Of 622 cancer claims approved so far, the fund has awarded $15.5 million to 39 victims, a spokeswoman told The Post.
Officials would not give a breakdown of cancer victims, but 10,800 downtown workers make up the second-largest group of registered claimants after 39,500 Ground Zero responders. There are another 16,600 in smaller categories such as residents, students, child-care and health-care workers. Finance workers engulfed in dust and debris from the Twin Towers’ collapse say the attacks — and returning to Wall Street a week later, when officials insisted it was safe — triggered their diseases.
A December 2013 video that has been picking up attention in medical marijuana advocacy circles points out the benefits of the drug’s active ingredient in cancer treatments.
“We observed that the cannabinoids were very effective in reducing tumor growth,” molecular biologist Christina Sanchez said in the video, first uploaded by Cannabis Planet. “Cells can die in different ways, and after cannabinoid treatment, they were dying in the ‘clean’ way. They were committing suicide, which is something you really want.”
Cannabinoids are a group of natural and man-made chemicals, which include the active ingredients in cannabis, that act upon some receptors within the body. Marijuana.com reported that Sanchez’s work at Compultense University in Madrid, Spain parallels British oncologist Wai Liu’s discovery that THC can “target and switch off” pathways that would otherwise allow tumors to develop.
J. Craig Venter, the man who raced the U.S. government to sequence the first human genome, has a new goal: Help everyone live to 100, in good health. “Our goal is to make 100-years-old the new 60,” said Peter Diamandis, who co-founded with Venter a company that aims to scan the DNA of as many as 100,000 people a year to create a massive database that will lead to new tests and therapies that can help extend healthy human life spans.
Human Longevity Inc. will use machines from Illumina Inc., which has a stake in the company, to decode the DNA of people from children to centenarians. San Diego-based Human Longevity will compile the information into a database that will include information on both the genome and the microbiome, the microbes that live in our gut. The aim is to help researchers understand and address diseases associated with age-related decline. The company, with $70 million in initial funding, will focus first on cancer, according to a statement today.
The World Health Organisation published its World Cancer Report… It is a hefty document of 800 pages which warns of a “tidal wave” of cancer facing the world over the next 20 years… The report identifies several major sources of preventable cancer; they include smoking, infections, alcohol, obesity, radiation and air pollution. Of those sources, infections, radiation and air pollution have been set aside and discussion has zeroed in on the narrow subset of what are being described as “lifestyle choices”. Because to talk about air pollution or infections or radiation would require a discussion of wealth inequalities, of living conditions, of asymmetry of information, of destructive environmental choices. And all that is too difficult.
…In an environment where more and more of us are living in tiny hutches within urban environments, breathing in polluted air, working longer and longer hours of sedentary jobs, with poor access to quality information, exercise space or fresh produce, bombarded 24/7 by advertising telling us to eat and drink the wrong thing, it is a ludicrous position to say that multi-billion corporations and the state can wash their hands of all consequences by telling us “you should have been healthier, you know”.
About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results. Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however. For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information… For the new study, he and his colleague used data from 1,351 adults who answered an online survey between August and September 2013. The data were then weighted to represent the U.S. population. The participants read six popular medical conspiracy theories and then indicated whether they had heard of them and whether they agreed or disagreed with them.
[…] What is puzzling is how we – each one of us – should respond to all this persuasively authoritative information. In some ways cohort studies such as Oxford’s Million Women act as a kind of mirror for every older woman. In a million women, there will be one who is going to be just like us, a little ahead on the amble through life, a pattern from whom we can learn. Where she stumbles over an extra glass of wine while stroking her cat and thus succumbs to a cancer, we can say no and live on.
That’s what’s so alluring about all these studies. The beguiling weight of scientific evidence seems to offer both an individualised glimpse of our future selves and an analytic tool for explaining why our present lives are such rubbish. Every “study” becomes a guide to modern life, a teacher who knows us better than we know ourselves, an analyst who can look into our souls. Where our ancestors relied on the Bible or at least a political philosophy, we can write our biography in studies. They become the measure against which we judge ourselves. Worse, they become the measure we hold other people to. Studies define us, and they define otherness. The more we know about the epidemiology of cancer or obesity, the more stringent we can be in our condemnation of those who refuse to live by the rules.
‘World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MITProfessor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. “[It’s] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss,” Chomsky says. “And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time.”‘ (Democracy Now!)
Are Any Plastics Safe? Industry Tries to Hide Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Containers: Interview with Mariah Blake
‘A new exposé by Mother Jones magazine may shock anyone who drinks out of plastic bottles, gives their children plastic sippy cups, eats out of plastic containers, or stores food with plastic wrap. For years, public campaigns have been waged against plastic containing bisphenol-A (BPA), a controversial plastic additive, due to concerns about adverse human health effects caused by the exposure to synthetic estrogen. But a new investigation by Mother Jones reporter Mariah Blake has revealed that chemicals used to replace BPA may be just as dangerous to your health, if not more. Plastic products being advertised as BPA-free — and sold by companies such as Evenflo, Nalgene and Tupperware — are still releasing synthetic estrogen. The Mother Jones piece also reveals how the plastics industry has used a “Big Tobacco-style campaign” to bury the disturbing scientific evidence about the products you use every day. Blake joins us to discuss her findings.’ (Democracy Now!)
Health advocates were shocked by the direct and appalling statements attributed to Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers. Published in Businessweek on January 21, 2014 and written by Bloomberg reporter Ketaki Gokhale, a news story about disputes over drug patents ended with an account of the India compulsory license on the cancer drug Nexavar, and practically exploded. Dekker is quoted as saying Bayer did not intend the cancer drug to be sold to cancer patients in India, adding “We developed it for western patients who can afford it.”:
Under India’s patent laws, compulsory licenses can be awarded for some products still under patent if the original isn’t available locally at a reasonable price.
Natco Pharma Ltd. (NTCPH) applied directly to India’s patents office and was awarded the nation’s first compulsory license in March 2012 to make a copy of Bayer’s Nexavar cancer drug at a 97 percent discount to the original product. In March last year, Bayer lost its bid to stop Natco from making the generic drug and is appealing the decision at the Mumbai High Court.
Bayer Chief Executive Officer Marijn Dekkers called the compulsory license “essentially theft.”
“Is this going to have a big effect on our business model?” Dekkers said Dec. 3 at a conference in London. “No, because we did not develop this product for the Indian market, let’s be honest. We developed this product for Western patients who can afford this product, quite honestly. It is an expensive product, being an oncology product.”
Recently, a not-for-profit organization known as Mars One released the list of 1,058 applicants who could be selected for colonization on Mars. Over 200,000 applications were said to have been received by the organization, which aims to “establish human life on Martian soil.”
“We’re extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications,” Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp was quoted as saying in a press release. “However, the challenge with 200,000 applicants is separating those who we feel are physically and mentally adept to become human ambassadors on Mars from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously.”
Those in the former category may want to read a new report regarding the effects of outer space on the human body, however, which states that being in outer space could cause long-term health problems. The report, which was first published in the New York Times, cites multiple negative effects of outer space on the human body, including the swelling that occurs in the human head – due in part to the fact that humans did not evolve outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.