Chemical manufacturers' "gift"

The Washington Post also reports today that the chemical manufacturers' trade association is giving $2 million to the EPA to conduct a comprehensive study of childhood exposure to chemicals. Carol Henry, vice president for science and research at the American Chemistry Council, said her industry wanted to promote a better understanding of the risks associated with chemical exposure. Teaming up with a preexisting federal study gives her group financial leverage, she said. . . . Henry said her association had set up a board of academics and industry officials to be "a resource to investigators" on an occasional basis, but added her group would not get advance notice of the results and the government would retain control over its findings. "We'll give them our guidance, but they don't have to take it," she said. The use of the word "leverage" immediately provokes, naturally, the first of two logical reactions: suspicion. Environmental Working Group President Kenneth A. Cook questioned why an agency with a $572 million research budget needed to accept industry contributions to conduct scientific research. "It simply is not credible that a $7.8 billion agency that employs almost 18,000 people has to go to the chemical industry to get $2 million for a crucial study to see if chemicals hurt kids," he said. "This is a government function; we should be investing government funds to be absolutely sure it's independent." The other logical response, though, is a cynical shrug. The chemical industry doesn't need to cough up money for the study to trust that this administration will likely distort the research to make sure that industry's interests are reflected. Look back at this administration's record of placing corporate special interests over the public interest in the recent report Special Interest Takeover.
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