HIGHTOWER: Science for Sale

Whenever citizens dare challenge some corporation that's polluting their community, or dare question the safety of some chemical, drug, or food-manufacturing process - the corporation always reacts by asserting that the citizens are dealing in more politics or emotion, but that the "science" of the issue is on the corporation's side.

Is it ever!  That's because corporations increasingly buy the science, then they plant their purchased "scientific" findings in various media outlets, which then unquestioningly report the findings as though they were the pure product of independent research.  In a new book entitled Trust Us, We're Experts, authors Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber rip the scientific veil from the corporate face of this deception, revealing in case after case that much of the science in news reports is tainted with corporate funding.

Technically, these academic scientists are not on the company payroll.  Instead corporate money is funneled to them in the form of research grants, consulting contracts, lucrative speaking fees. . . or, outright cash for services rendered.  For example, Rampton and Stauber report that in the early 1990s, tobacco companies paid $156,000 to 13 academic scientists to write letters to influential medical journals arguing the tobacco industry's case .  One biostatistician was paid $10,000 for an eight-paragraph letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  None of the journals mentioned the money.

In fact, no law requires these scientists to disclose their conflicts of interest.  Luckily, however, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has stepped into the breach with a new web site that discloses the corporate money behind more than 1,100 scientists and various scientific organizations.  This invaluable data base will be expanded and updated, helping us - and the media - know who's who in the corporate-scientific complex.

This is Jim Hightower saying . . . check it out for yourself:  www.integrityinscience.org.

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