"Trade Secrets": The
Latest in a Long Line of Conspiracies charges Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.
NOTE: PRNewswire, the nation’s largest newswire service, who has released
Cancer Prevention Coalition’s numerous press releases for the last five years,
refused to issue this release on "legal grounds".
DATE March 23, 2001
SOURCE Cancer Prevention Coalition
Bill Moyers is to be warmly commended for his March 26 program "Trade
Secrets". This PBS Special will document the chemical industry’s
conspiracy in denying information on the grave cancer risks to hundreds of
thousands of workers manufacturing the potent carcinogen vinyl chloride (VC) and
its polyvinyl chloride(PVC) product.
As newsworthy is the fact that there is a decades-long track record of
numeroussuch conspiracies involving a wide range of industries and chemicals,
besides VC. These conspiracies have resulted in an escalation in the incidence
and mortality of cancer, and chronic disease, among workers and the general
public unknowingly exposed to toxics and carcinogens in the workplace, air,
water and consumer products--food, household products, and cosmetics and
This misconduct involves negligence, manipulation, suppression, distortion
and destruction of health and environmental data by mainstream industries, their
consultants and trade associations, notably the Chemical Manufacturers
Association (CMA). These practices are so frequent as to preclude dismissal as
exceptional aberrations and, in many instances, arguably rise to the level of
criminality as illustrated below:
- Suppression of evidence from the early 1960’s on the toxicity of VC by
and on its carcinogenicity from 1970 by the VC/PVC industry and the CMA.Based
on these findings, a blue ribbon committee of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science charged in 1976 that: "Because of the suppression of
these data (by the CMA), tens of thousands of workers were exposed without
warning--to toxic concentrations of VC".
- Suppression of evidence since the 1930’s on the hazards of asbestos,
asbestosis and lung cancer,by Johns-Manville and Raybestos-Manhattan,
besides the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
This information was detailed in industry documents dubbed the
"Asbestos Pentagon Papers", released at 1978 Congressional Hearings.
- Suppression by Rohm and Haas of information, known since 1962 but not
released until 1971, on the potent carcinogenicity of the resin
This resulted in deaths from lung cancer of some 50 men, many non-smokers and
under the age of 50.
- Suppression of carcinogenicity data on organochlorine pesticides:
Aldrin/Dieldrin, by Shell Chemical Company since 1962; Chlordane/Heptachlor,
by Velsicol Chemical Company since 1959; and Kepone, by Allied Chemical Company
since the early 1960’s.
- Falsification in the early 1970’s of test data on the drug Aldactone and
artificial sweetener Aspartame by Hazleton Laboratories under contract to
G.D. Searle Company.
- Falsification and manipulation by Monsanto since the 1960’s of data on
dioxin, and its contamination of products including the herbicide Agent
Orange, designed to block occupational exposure claims and tightening of
This evidence was detailed in 1990 by Environmental Protection Agency’s
Office of Criminal Investigation which charged Monsanto with a "long
pattern of fraud" and with reporting "false information" to the
- Fraudulent claims by Monsanto since 1985 that genetically engineered (rBGH)
milk is indistinguishable from natural milk.
These claims persist despite contrary evidence.
- Monsanto’s reckless marketing in 1976 of plastic Coke bottles made from
acrylonitrile, a chemical closely related to VC, prior to its testing for
carcinogenicity and migration into the Coke. The bottles were subsequently
banned after acrylonitrile was found to be a potent carcinogen contaminating
- Destruction of test data on drugs, food additives, and pesticides as
admitted in 1977 by Industrial Biotest Laboratories, under contract to major
- Failure of the mainstream cosmetics and toiletry industries to warn of the
wide range of avoidable carcinogenic ingredients, contaminants and
precursors in their products used by the great majority of the U.S.
population over virtually their lifetimes.
(For supporting documentation of the above charges, see the author’s:
Testimony on White Collar Crime, H.R. 4973, before the Subcommittee on Crime
of the House Judiciary Committee, 12/13/79; The Politics of Cancer, 1979;
and The Politics of Cancer, Revisited, 1998.)
Hopefully, the public and the media will be outraged by this longstanding
evidence of recklessness and conspiracies, graphically reinforced by Moyers’
The public and the media should finally hold industry accountable, and demand
urgent investigation and radical reform of current industry practices besides
governmental unresponsiveness. The Moyers’ program has already galvanized
formation of a coalition of grassroots citizen groups, "Coming Clean",
to demand more responsible and open industry practices, including phasing out
the use and manufacture of toxic chemicals.
Criticism should also be directed to the multibillion dollar cancer
establishment--the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society--for
their failure to warn Congress, regulatory agencies and the general public of
the scientific evidence on the permeation of the totality of the environment
with often persistent industrial carcinogens thus precluding corrective
legislation and regulation, besides denying workers and the public of their
CONTACT: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition
and Professor environmental and occupational medicine, University of Illinois
School of Public Health, Chicago, 312-996-2297;firstname.lastname@example.org;
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