20. POLITICAL RESEARCH, NOT SCIENTIFIC, DETERMINES
Formaldehyde once was officially classified as a carcinogen by the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Then, Ronald Reagan
was elected president. Now formaldehyde is not a carcinogen.
However, Dr. Peter F. Infante, director of OSHA's Office of Carcinogen
Classification, still felt it was a carcinogen, a position supported
by numerous scientific studies. His concern earned him a letter of dismissal.
But when U.S. Congressman Albert Gore, Jr., heard about it he called
a congressional subcommittee hearing. He charged "This is a blatant
attempt to rid the government of a competent scientist who happened
not to agree with an industry whose profits are at stake." Thanks
to Gore's intervention, Infante kept his job. Other scientists have
not been so fortunate.
The first scientific casualty of the Reagan administration was Dr.
Anthony Robbins who was fired as director of the National Institute
of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on March 4, 1981. The firing
came a few days after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce branded Dr. Robbins
as being radically anti-business.
Dr. Melvin Reuber was head of the Frederick Cancer Research Facility
at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) when he told California agricultural
officials that malathion was a carcinogen. Four months later his successful
20-year career was destroyed by what he called a carefully planned and
efficiently manipulated conspiracy by officials of the National Cancer
Institute and the chemical industry.
For disagreeing with fellow EPA toxicologists who said permethrin (trade
name Ambush) was safe, Dr. Adrian Gross, former chief of toxicology
in EPA's Hazard Evaluation Division, was demoted twice. "The next
step," Gross says, "is out the door."
Hugh B. Kaufman, a toxic waste expert in EPA's Hazardous Site Control
Division and the government's chief investigator in the Love Canal case,
was secretly investigated by the government after criticizing the government's
hazardous waste program.
Reagan administration officials deny there has been any attempt to
stifle scientific inquiry or debate. Nonetheless,. many researchers,
demoralized by the pressure to keep quiet and worried about maintaining
the integrity of their careers have left EPA, NCI, OSHA, NIOSH, FDA,
It appears that under the Reagan administration carcinogens are being
determined by political research and not scientific research and the
American public should know about it.
THE NEW FARM, March, 1983, "The Next Step is Out the Door,"
by Keith Schneider.