1. FRAUDULENT TESTING PROVIDES AN ILLUSION OF SAFETY

Industrial Bio-Test (IBT) was the largest testing lab in the country. It conducted about one-third of the toxicity and cancer testing of chemicals in America -- as many as 22,500 safety tests over the last decade.

On June 22, 1981, the former president of IBT and three ex-subordinates were indicted for alleged fraudulent tests on four chemicals. The four suspect chemicals were TCC, an antibacterial agent used in deodorant soaps; naprosyn, an arthritis medication; and soconor and nemacur, both pesticides.

The full extent of the fraud can be seen in the studies of TCC done for Monsanto. During the experiments, IBT substituted live rats for those which died and did not keep proper identification of the test animals; it also provided the FDA with false information and made a practice of shredding documents.

These testing procedures did not appear to disturb Monsanto. It originally fought efforts by FDA inspectors to gain access to TCC records and only later, during an investigation by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, did Monsanto try to present itself as being cooperative. Despite its huge financial stake in TCC, Monsanto was allowed (by the FDA) to retest the chemical; the FDA accepted Monsanto's decision that TCC was safe. Oh yes, one of the indicted IBT men now works for Monsanto.

The Monsanto/TCC case may be merely the tip of the iceberg; IBT conducted tests for nearly 30 years and its corporate clients included companies that produced drugs, dyes, plastics, pesticides, food additives, and cosmetics. (The companies included Proctor and Gamble, Armour, Upjohn, Dow, 3M, and Shell.) Governmental clients included the Army, Defense Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration. And the World Health Organization relied heavily on IBT to set human-exposure standards for potentially dangerous chemicals to be used in foreign countries.

Nor is such fraud confined to chemical testing. For nearly a year, a team of reporters and researchers working at Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting examined the subject of safety with particular attention to testing laboratories, standard setting boards and regulatory agencies that perform, review, certify and oversee the science of testing for safety. They found that much of the research and regulatory effort aimed at ensuring us a safer world is either fraudulent or useless. Rather than living in a scientifically proven, healthy, hazard-free environment, we are actually surrounded by a comforting illusion of safety ... an illusion created by public and private institutions more concerned with the safety of their own existence than with the safety of the public.

It is the news media's responsibility to shatter such illusions.

SOURCES:

FOCUS/MIDWEST, September, 1982, "Testing Fraud," by Judith and Mark Miller; Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting, 1982, "The Illusion of Safety," by Mark Dowie, Douglas Foster, Carolyn Marshall, David Weir, Jonathan King.