Yet another scientific council has been formed to provide a "voice of reason" in the controversy surrounding the effects of chemicals on the environment and human health.
The new association, American Council on Science and Health, directed by Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, was created to combat "cancer phobia," according to a press release announcing its arrival.
Whelan told a press conference recently: "Those of us associated with the American Council on Science and Health feel that facts about chemicals are often distorted, the whole story not told, and that decisions are made more on the basis of emotion and politics rather than science.
"The consumer advocates have dominated, and federal regulatory agencies have succumbed to their pressure and banned or restricted use of a number of chemicals. Only rarely are the voices of more rational scientists heard in discussions relating to chemicals and health."
This is a theme that Whelan and her former professor, Dr. Frederick Stare, who is also a director of the council, have been preaching for several years.
Together they wrote a controversial book entitled "Panic in the Pantry" that sets out to prove that "Food additives now in use are safe and contribute to good health . . . "
Most of the questions at the press conference dealt with the controversial aspects of Whelan's and Dr. Stare's ties to the industries that are directly involved in the debates over chemical carcinogens in the environment.
Dr. Stare, professor of nutrition at Harvard, has received retainers or consulting fees from, and/or has testified at government hearings on behalf of: Continental Corporation, formerly Continental Can, Kellogg, Nabisco, the industry-supported Cereal Institute, the Sugar Association, Carnation Milk and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. Dr. Stare said the fees have come to one-quarter of his university salary, or about $10,000 a year.
The promotional tour for Whelan's book, "Panic in the Pantry," was paid for by the Council on Agriculture Science and Technology (CAST), another industry-funded group.
Asked if their financial relationship with the industry would prevent them from fulfilling the purpose of the council according to Whelan's statement, that of providing "the public with factual, unbiased information on subjects relating to chemicals . . ." both of them said, "No."
In her prepared text, Whelan said, "The council intends to remain free from financial ties with corporations with a financial interest in the topics we are investigating. In other words, we have not nor intend to take money from the food and chemical industries."
But both Whelan and Dr. Stare said they will continue to accept personal remuneration from these industries.
The first five subjects with which the council intends to deal are: saccharin; the Delaney clause, which requires a ban on food additives capable of causing cancer in animals; cancer in New Jersey; naturally occurring cancer-causers in food; the relationship between diet and heart disease.