HIGHTOWER: A Polluter Behind a Mask

In today's movies, masked men like Zorro and Batman are the good guys.But who is that masked man in the New England Journal of Medicine? It's Dr. Jerry Berke, and he's written a scathing review of Sandra Steingraber's book, Living Downstream.Steingraber, herself a highly-regarded biologist with a PhD from the University of Michigan, documents in this important book the connection between the spread of toxic chemicals in our environment ... and the epidemic of cancer in our society. Needless to say, chemical manufacturers are not pleased with Steingraber's book, and they're doing all they can to trash it.But it's one thing for the industry to trash it, and another thing altogether for a credentialed peer of the medical profession like Dr. Berke to trash it. He says her book is [quote], "biased," filled with "poor scholarship" and that it "misinforms" people. Indeed, he pooh-poohs any connection between chemicals and cancer.So, who exactly is this reviewer? The Journal identifies him only as Jerry H. Berke, M.D., living in Acton, Massachusetts. But rip-off his mask [riiiiip] and, aha! -- he turns out to have his own bias -- he's the director of Toxicology for W.R. Grace & Company, one of the biggest chemical manufacturers in the world.The people of Woburn, Massachusetts know the Grace company, because it's the polluter that contaminated their drinking water with a cancer-causing chemical some years ago. Subsequently, an unusual number of leukemia cases developed in their town. In his review, Dr. Berke conveniently failed to mention his own company's connection to the very point that Steingraber makes in her book: exposure to toxic chemicals is tied to human cancer.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Shame on the New England Journal of Medicine for letting a chemical polluter hide behind the mask of medical respectability. When any scientist claims that chemicals can't cause cancer ... ask who signs their paycheck.Source:"Old Tricks" by Paul Brodeur. December 19, 1997. "Living Downstream: An ecologist looks at cancer and the environment" by Jerry Berke. New England Journal of Medicine: Nov. 20, 1997.

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