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More about a Key Source in that WaPo Story on BPA

In working up the post below about The Washington Post's story, "Studies on Chemicals in Plastics Questioned," we were struck by that quote from David Michaels:

"Tobacco figured this out, and essentially it's the same model," said David Michaels, who was a federal regulator in the Clinton administration. "If you fight the science, you're able to postpone regulation and victim compensation, as well. As in this case, eventually the science becomes overwhelming. But if you can get five or 10 years of avoiding pollution control or production of chemicals, you've greatly increased your product."

That's a vague identifier that raises questions: a federal regulator in the Clinton administration. Wonder where? From his bio:

Nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the US Senate, Dr. Michaels served as the Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health from 1998 through January 2001. In this position, he had primary responsibility for protecting the health and safety of workers, the neighboring communities and the environment surrounding the nation's nuclear weapons facilities.
Oh, a Department of Energy administrator in the nuclear weapons program -- might have warranted a mention, don't you think? And what does Michaels do now? We learn further down in the story that he "runs the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at George Washington University and wrote the book 'Doubt is Their Product,' which details how various industries have used science to stave off regulation."

The Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy's homepage is www.defendingscience.org. There's a recent paper on the studies of BPA by Sarah Vogel, entitled, "Battles Over Bisphenol A," which makes the basic argument accepted as the thesis in today's Post story.

For decades, industry trade associations and their lawyers staved off the regulation of unsafe products like tobacco, lead and asbestos by arguing that scientific uncertainty precluded government action. [41] Similarly, the plastics and chemical industries seek to deny, delay, and dismiss the low dose research on bisphenol A.

And there's also a study on diacetyl and "popcorn workers lung," another favorite target of the trial bar.

Wonder who's financing the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy, aka SKAPP? To its credit, the group explains:

Funding: Major support for SKAPP is provided by the Open Society Institute and the Common Benefit Trust, a fund established pursuant to a court order in the Silicone Gel Breast Implant Products Liability litigation. The opinions expressed on the DefendingScience website are ours alone. We do not provide our funders advance notice or the opportunity to review or approve the content of this site or any documents produced by the project.
George Soros' Open Society Institute (www.soros.org) and some of the cash thrown off in class-action lawsuits against silicone breast implants -- i.e., the largess of the trial bar.

A major point raised in the Post's story is that the chemical industry finances studies, a notable if not objectionable conflict of interest. And when a left-wing billionaire and trial lawyers finance counterstudies, that doesn't warrant a mention?

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.