This article is based on the talk by Dr. Chris Busby about scientific dishonesty in nuclear issues at the Royal Society in London last November. Please also see the video of the talk -- There is also a Powerpoint presentation.
Dishonesty and the Science Policy Interface
Dr Christopher Busby
There is a problem I want to draw to the attention of those who watch the world and the antics of those who run it. It is a problem that has exercised my mind for some time, one that I came to as a result of my interest in the health effects of low dose radiation. I have written about my researches and discoveries in this area (Busby 1995, 2006) and most recently about the health effects of uranium weapons (Busby UNIDIR 2009). But as I conducted my naïve enquiries in these areas of science, it dawned on me quite early on, that there was a dangerous gap between what the politicians and those who ran the show believed (or said they believed) and the facts, if I may (also naïvely) call them that. In 2003 I was asked to become the leader of the Science Policy Interface group of an EU funded outfit, the Policy Information Network on Child Health and the Environment (PINCHE). Here I met a wide range of eminent research scientists and doctors from across Europe, and in the meetings we had, we discussed the ways in which science is translated into policy, a subject that I had studied and seen in the area of radiation risk. I think I was chosen for this position because of my experience in the area and my cynicism. I certainly used it to ensure that the final report made clear to the EU Commissioners (van den Hazel et al. 2006) that there was a bias at the Science Policy Interface that needed putting right (in case they didn’t already know, that is). I wrote about all this at some length in my book Wolves of Water. What I want to do here is to try and take the issue further. I base this essay on the presentation I made at the Royal Society London in October 2007 where I was asked by Roger Coghill to dish the dirt on this area of science and policy based on some of my experiences.
Let me begin by saying that those who think that there is a conspiracy to exclude the truth in various areas associated with environmental risk are quite correct. There is. Quite how it works I am not so sure about even in the quite well-defined cases I will present here. Why do those who are key figures act like they do? I think that probably there are many factors; financial, cultural, legal, psychological and economic among them. Also fear: in the Committee Examining Radiation Risk of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) committee members were threatened with personal litigation and they subsequently changed their position and voted in the opposite direction (CERRIE 2004b). There are certainly dirty tricks. What I have noticed is that very often the individuals I find at the centre of some questionable or dishonest behaviour are people from what I call a subordinate culture, people who have been poor in their childhood, people from the colonies who want to belong or to be important, from poor areas of the country, people who didn’t go to the best universities, people who have some reason to tie their psychological security to their position, a position, usually a key position, handed to them by government. They are so grateful and so fearful! I guess a lot of politicians are like that: why else would you wish to be a politician? The selective filtering of personality types into power is an interesting area in itself and one that essentially makes a nonsense of democracy.
But the end result is that because of their behaviour, scientific evidence is ignored or marginalised or alternatively incorrect scientific evidence is used as a basis for policy. Often, in fact usually, such policy is necessary for the well being of some powerful industry or group, or the military. An excellent and well known example is that of BSE/CJD, Mad Cow disease. We all know that the government committee that considered the scientific arguments that the disease could infect humans discounted experimental evidence and made wrong decisions that led to the deaths of many people. I note that no-one has been put in court for this and no industrial company manufacturing the poisoned animal feedstuffs has been fined. Interestingly, the Chair of that committee, Sir Richard Southwood, was also Chair of the National Radiological Protection Board for many years, including the period of Chernobyl. He was wrong there too. But he is not in gaol. And the scientists on that committee who were responsible, should they not be at least accused of scientific dishonesty, of some crime? Let me put this in another context. If there is a murder and the murderer is in the dock and a witness is called who swears that the murderer is innocent and does not refer to evidence which he has that the murderer is guilty: is not such a person guilty of a crime? I am going to present some cases to you that I have personal experience of. I am going to leave it to you to decide whether these people were dishonest or just stupid or maybe culturally biased, by which I mean, they honestly thought that they knew what the real picture was and could discount evidence which for some defensible reason they disagreed with. But whatever the decision you come to in each case, I want you to be aware that as a result of these actions, policies and laws remain in place that have resulted in and will result in the deaths of millions of people. This is not an exaggeration. The death yield from the radioactive contamination permitted by the behaviour of such people is in excess of 60 million (ECRR2003) and this issue is the greatest public health scandal of history. Much is said and written about Hitler and the gas chambers. The systematic poisoning of the human race by novel radioactive pollution and now by uranium particles makes the World War II death yields seem quite mild.
Ideally democracy depends upon the policymakers having the best knowledge of the consequences of their decisions. Research has shown that politicians are generally scientifically illiterate and therefore have to depend upon scientific expert committees to obtain this knowledge. Membership of these committees is not democratic and this introduces bias. Scott Cato, Bramhall and Busby: I don’t know much about Science, 2000). Scientific committees depend upon peer-review literature and ignore grey literature. They also often ignore peer-review literature if it does not conform to some pre-existing belief. Their interpretation of the literature is always biased by their affiliations. (Ruden 2000, 2001, 2003. PINCHE 2005, Judson, 2006). Peer-review literature itself is often biased by the affiliation of the researchers, and the affiliations of the reviewer or the editor. In addition, peer-review literature may be biased by the choice of the research topic (therefore who funds the research). Peer review literature may in fact be so brushed and spun as to approach dishonesty; it may have false data and indeed be dishonest. There is currently no law against such dishonesty or biased advice and culprits are not seen as criminals nor are they punished in any way in the UK. There is currently no such thing as a Scientific Crime and in my view there should be.
How could scientific dishonesty be criminal? How do we judge scientists? What ethical framework can apply? In British Courts, evidence given in a case affects the outcome. For this reason, witnesses have to swear an oath to tell the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth. If they are later found to have lied they can be prosecuted and gaoled. I submit that in the present system of Science and Policy, Society should apply the same argument. Scientists, because of the serious and real consequences of their evidence on human health, have the same responsibility as a witness in a criminal case.
Let me list some examples:
1. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; BSE/CJD; Here an expert committee ignored scientists (e.g. Prof. Richard Lacey) who brought evidence that the agent crossed species barriers; many died. Chair was Sir Richard Southwood.
2. Chernobyl; National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) and the infant leukemias; After Chernobyl NRPB advised that Cs-137 contamination of upland areas (Wales, Cumbria Yorkshire) was at safe levels and would clear in weeks (Chair Sir Richard Southwood); areas are still under sheep restriction today. Children died of leukemia. Adult cancer rates increased; the cancer registry falsified figures (see Wolves of Water).
3. Trichloroethylene carcinogenicity and the EU; Christina Ruden, a philosopher from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, showed in three papers how biased arguments advanced by scientists working for industry delayed the classification of TCE as a carcinogen by 5 years or more. Many will have died because adequate limits were not put in place (see PINCHE reports).
4. Radioactive pollution and cancer; following the Sellafield child leukemia cluster discovered in 1983 by Yorkshire TV there was a high-level cover up of the effects of low dose internal radiation exposure involving Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), The Small Areas Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU), CERRIE and, as it applied to Uranium weapons, the Royal Society. Hundreds of thousands have died or are sick. The evidence has not been translated into policy due to scientific bias.
5. Mobile phones and cancer; this issue is current and as a consequence of scientific bias and dishonesty a very large number of people will become sick and die.
6. The Royal Society and Depleted Uranium
Prof. Brian Spratt FRS and Prof William Bonfield FRS, who I will present below.
At the Royal Society meeting, I gave examples of a number of scientists whose actions and publications were questionable, and I invited the audience to consider them in the context of scientific dishonesty. My accusations were not new. I had put the stories in my book Wolves of Water which I wrote principally to draw attention to the failures of science, or rather the way in which science was being used to ensure the survival of industry and the military in a democratic society whose members were being systematically poisoned.
In this brief essay I will concentrate on four of the stories that I presented to give a flavour of the kind of problem that we face. I will look at Professor Dudley Goodhead and the CERRIE committee, at Professor Ray Cartwright the epidemiologist, Professor Sarah Darby and the late Professor Richard Doll, both epidemiologists, and at the Royal Society, Professors Brian Spratt and William Bonfield.
Prof Dudley Goodhead
Goodhead, a South African originally from Durban, became head of the Medical Research Council radiation biology group at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment Harwell. In 2001 he was appointed Chair of the Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters CERRIE.
CERRIE was founded in 2001 by Michael Meacher, the Environment Minister to examine concerns raised by me and my colleagues about cancer near the Irish Sea, near nuclear sites and in infants in Europe after Chernobyl. Goodhead initially agreed to, and arranged for, joint epidemiological studies on ward level cancer near the Bradwell nuclear site to be carried out by Chris Busby, Colin Muirhead (NRPB) and Richard Wakeford (BNFL). The team would examine ward level data obtained from the Office for National Statistics by the committee to confirm the high levels of breast cancer reported by Busby in studies by Green Audit (but denied by the government’s Small Area Health Statistics Unit, SAHSU) near the radioactive contaminated estuary of the River Blackwater. In 2004, after Meacher had been sacked by Tony Blair, Goodhead shut down the project despite the protocols having been agreed at several meetings of the CERRIE epidemiology sub-committee. This is because by then it was clear that the government SAHSU studies of the issue were seriously flawed by mistakes in omission of ward populations. In addition Goodhead also cancelled the joint study on childhood leukemia by age of mother which would have investigated the effect on the disease of weapons fallout in the 1960s. Furthermore, Goodhead blocked the inclusion in the final CERRIE report of a section outlining dissent from the majority views despite having agreed under Meacher to include such views. He did this by threatening the individual committee members with legal action of they allowed any dissenting views to be included in the final report. He presented what were said to be two legal opinions from departmental (i.e government) lawyers. He tabled them at the last meeting thus denying committee members any opportunity to consider them in advance or to take independent advice. Both opinions indicated, vaguely but threateningly, that including misleading or factually wrong material in the final report might result in individual committee members being sued. This was enough to frighten members into voting to exclude the oppositional section from the final report, as the original founding remit demanded. Our own legal advisers later advised us that the opinions were absurd, but by then it was too late. Thus the entire purpose of the CERRIE committee was nullified, all that work and money wasted. Goodhead received an OBE shortly before changing his position on the outcome of the final report. He was accused of scientific bias in a letter (which I have published in Busby 2005) by one member of his own secretariat, Marion Hill, who resigned over the issue. The second member of the three person secretariat, Dr Paul Dorfman, joined with me and my colleague Richard Bramhall to produce and publish an independent CERRIE Minority Report (CERRIE 2004b).
Prof Ray Cartwright
Ultimately Director of Epidemiology of the Cancer Research Campaign, Cartwright, as a researcher, was co-author of a study in 1990 showing a link between man-made radiation in estuaries (e.g. from the Sellafield reprocessing plant) and child leukemia. He was soon promoted to Director and then later was put in charge of the United Kingdom Childhood Cancer Research study, a 16 million pound project to discover the cause of the increases in childhood cancer in the UK. This money came from the government but also from charities, and from ordinary people who put their hands in their pockets after seeing the pictures of the dying children. One of the initial questions to be asked by this study was about radiation exposure, and since Cartwright had clear evidence that this might be a possible cause he should have included it in the study. He did not. In a letter to Busby in 1994 he stated that the research would not look at man-made radionuclides (i.e. from nuclear power, from Sellafield, or from weapons fallout). After the study was completed in 1999 he was questioned in an open meeting by Richard Bramhall of the Low level Radiation Campaign (LLRC) about his 1990 estuary study and why he did not use the results to inform the protocol of the UKCCR study. He replied that it was because he had done a second further study which showed no effect and disagreed with his first study. When challenged to produce it over the next year, he could not. It turned out that it was a lie. A formal complaint was sent by LLRC to the British Medical Association General Medical Council. They investigated and discovered that no such study existed, although in the mean time Cartwright rapidly produced a thesis by one of his students, Frances Lloyd that he argued showed there was no effect. This study was so flawed as to laughable, and was dismissed by the CERRIE committee. Cartwright was asked by the BMA to apologise for misleading the public and he eventually did apologise to LLRC in a letter. The fact remains that the 16 million pound UKCCR childhood leukemia study omitted examining the most likely cause of the increases in childhood cancer because the director pointed the study in the wrong direction, whilst already having evidence from his own research what the cause (or a cause) was. At one point during this period Cartwright was on the Organising Committee of the British Nuclear Energy Society. He certainly became very important as the epidemiology head of the Cancer Research Campaign, he will have earned a lot of money, been feted, been on a fat salary. Is that an explanation?
Prof Sarah Darby
Although not a member of the initial CERRIE committee Sarah Darby was brought in by Goodhead as an ‘independent’ epidemiologist. Darby was famously the main author of at least two seriously flawed radiation studies, both with the late Prof Sir Richard Doll, who himself was recently reported to have been compromised in his epidemiology by financial links with industry.
The first study was the Nordic Leukemia Study, published in the British Medical Journal in 1993 (see reference in reference section below) around the time of the Sellafield child leukemia trial Reay and Hope vs BNFL. This is covered in some length in my book Wolves of Water (pp.305-321). Briefly, the authors spliced together data from different cancer registries in different periods to argue that there was no significant increase in child leukemia over the period of atmospheric weapons testing. This was arguably a cold-blooded cover up of the clear increases shown in the Danish Cancer Registry data which the authors had employed as one of the datasets and which they eventually admitted they knew about following an investigation in CERRIE and another investigation by the ethical committee of the British Medical Journal, who I complained to. These Danish data and earlier research on the issue were not cited in the paper by Darby et al., and when challenged in the CERRIE committee Sarah Darby stated that the data had been destroyed. Later, following the complaint to the BMJ and to the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty by Busby, Darby said the data had been found; it showed the existence of a peak which had been submerged by Darby et al. by statistical chicanery and inappropriate presentations. Busby also went to Copenhagen and obtained original data from the founder of the Danish Cancer Registry Johannes Clemmesen confirming this.
In addition to the childhood leukemia scam, the Darby Doll team (with others) carried out two studies of the UK A-Bomb Test veterans which were seriously flawed for many reasons, the main ones being a change in the protocol half way through the study which reduced the significance of an increase in leukemia in the veterans found in the initial analysis.
Professor Brian Spratt, Professor William Bonfield
I now turn to the matter of Uranium weapons and specifically the behaviour of the Royal Society. After all, The Royal Society should be the one place where you would expect to find purity and independence, a place where you would not expect to find bias and scientific dishonesty.
By the mid 1990s Gulf War syndrome had incapacitated 20% of those UK and US soldiers who had served in Iraq. There were increases in cancer, leukemia and birth defects in Iraqi populations. Following further use of DU in the Balkans, similar increases in cancer began to be reported from affected areas, and studies of Italian veteran peacekeepers showed increases in leukemia and lymphoma. There was a widespread belief that these effects were caused by exposures to Depleted Uranium munitions which, when employed, produce large quantities of widely dispersed and respirable sub-micron uranium oxide particles. Despite many reports from establishment scientists and risk agencies arguing that the radioactivity from uranium was too weak to be the cause of any cancer or other ill health at the likely levels of contamination, there was little acceptance of this viewpoint by the veterans or the public.
In 2000, the Royal Society set up a committee to examine the issue. The British Environment Minister Michael Meacher suggested that I should be in this committee but the RS refused. However, they agreed to ask me to give evidence.
Here let’s pause for thought: Why the Royal Society? Why did the Royal Society set up such a committee? The WHO, IAEA, EURATOM, the UN, the military, the NRPB, all said DU was safe. Did someone at the RS wake up one morning and think: What a good idea? Or were they asked to by the government? To use the good name of the RS to reassure the veterans? To reassure the public that the UK was not responsible for all the dying children in Iraq?
Prof Brian Spratt FRS, a microbiologist, was made Chair of the Royal Society Committee on the Health Effects of Depleted Uranium Weapons. The Committee’s advisor on radiological effects was Prof Dudley Goodhead whom we have met already.
Over two years the RS committee took evidence from many scientists, and eventually produced two reports on the issue. The radiological report published in 2001 concluded that the weapon produced dust which did not travel far from the impact site and did not represent a hazard unless inhaled in very large (choking) quantities. This conclusion was based entirely on advice from NRPB and Goodhead, who was responsible for the radiological section of the report.
I gave evidence to the RS committee arguing that the DU dust was a novel exposure, that such exposures caused high local internal doses and could not be addressed by the ICRP model which was only valid for external acute doses. I brought evidence from my trips to Kosovo and Iraq that the dust travelled large distances and remained in the environment for many years. This was ignored and omitted from the report.
I gave the veterans’ response to the final 2001 RS report launch at Carlton House. I argued that the epidemiological data and the new scientific evidence of anomalous radiation effects from internal exposures meant that the RS report was a whitewash, and that the good name of the RS was being used for political purposes. My report: ‘Depleted Science’ was presented at various conferences and published on the internet on several sites (www.cerrie.org/committee_papers/INFO_12-H.doc). However the story did not stop there.
Following the Royal Society Report, the MoD set up the independent Depleted Uranium Oversight Board (DUOB) to measure Uranium isotopes in the Gulf War 1 vets and to examine new scientific evidence. Spratt was a member of this committee. So was I. In addition to developing measurement protocols, each meeting of the DUOB examined new evidence relating to the health effects of Uranium. In the four years of the DUOB there were many new studies published in the peer-review literature showing that uranium exposure had anomalous and serious genotoxic effects and that uranium could not be assessed using the conventional radiological risk models which were based on acute external high doses at Hiroshima. Senior and influential scientists argued that there was a problem. I brought many of these arguments before Brian Spratt in the DUOB. All were dismissed or ignored in the final reports.
One such argument now becomes the focus of this story. It concerns uranium and photoelectrons. In 2003 I presented a new photoelectron enhancement theory of uranium radiotoxicity to CERRIE at their International Conference at St Catherine’s College Oxford and also later to the DUOB. I presented it to Brain Spratt, chair of the RS committee which had reported that DU was not a problem.
I will just explain the idea here. It is quite simple. All elements absorb natural background gamma radiation in proportion to the fourth power of their atomic number Z. This means that uranium (Z=92) has the highest absorption of gamma rays of any naturally occurring element The effective atomic number of living tissue is Z = 3.4 Uranium, as UO2++ ion (uranyl ion) also binds strongly to DNA, and this property has been used to image DNA in the electron microscope since Uranium’s affinity for DNA was discovered by Huxley in 1960. It follows that uranium particles collect natural background radiation and focus it in the human body. It follows that, as uranium binds to DNA, it focuses natural background into the DNA. The fourth power ratio between uranium and living tissue is about 250,000. This is not fantasy. In 2005, a researcher in the USA, Hainfeld, patented gold (Z=79) nanoparticles for enhancing X-ray treatments in tumour destruction; this meant that my idea is basically correct. In 2007 my colleague Andreas Elsaesser applied the CERN FLUKA Monte Carlo radiation track program to the problem of gold and uranium particles; results showed that my predictions of photoelectron enhancement of ionization density near uranium atoms and particles were correct.
I asked Prof Spratt, after my presentation to the DUOB (where Professor Goodhead was also present) whether he still thought that the Royal Society report had been correct in stating that Uranium was not a problem at the levels being generated by weapons usage. I asked him how a way forward could be found, since people were dying, uranium was still being used and the Royal Society was still the main authority underpinning its use. Spratt, cornered and in public, said I should send the theory to the Royal Society Journal: if they published it then the Royal Society would have to take notice. In 2007, after the Hainfeld paper was brought to my attention, I took out a provisional patent on uranium and photoelectron enhancement. I did a literature search and discovered that photoelectron enhancement had been dealt with mathematically and empirically in a number of papers from 1947 onwards, dealing mainly with gold. I wrote two papers, one on uranium particles and one on uranium bound to DNA. I sent them to the Proceedings of the Royal Society B in June 2007. They were both immediately ‘unsubmitted’ by the editors.
I telephoned the editors and complained. They said it was not biology: I should submit it to the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Accordingly I sent the papers to Interface, editor Prof William Bonfield FRS, a scientist whose area of research (and links with industry and therefore research money) is prosthetic materials i.e. metal substances used inside the human body. The high Z theory will have an effect on the use of such materials since gold and platinum are often employed (and would explain cancers which turn up in people with prostheses). Bonfield sent the paper to three referees, all people who I know and who told me they had received the papers. They all said they recommended publication after some minor revisions.
But Bonfield rejected the papers: the explanation was that there was pressure on space in the journal. It is unheard of for an editor to overrule the referees, especially in an area where the consequences are so important for human health. I complained to the in-house Royal Society editor Tim Holt. I made the obvious points about the Royal Society DU committee and politics. Holt agreed to talk to Bonfield. Bonfield again rejected the papers. I contacted the Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society Peter Collins. His explanation was that the Journal Royal Society Interface was not part of the Royal Society, despite the name. He said he would talk to Bonfield. But eventually he wrote to say he could do nothing. The papers were rejected. The USA based oversight board including 41 scientists and experts complained in an open letter to the President of the Royal Society. But they were ignored.
So here are my questions.
Are the people I have presented guilty of crimes? Are they guilty of stupidity or cowardice? Are they innocent? Did the children who died because they were in the womb at the time of Chernobyl die because they represented the chance level for the event of 1 in 100,000,000? What about the BSE victims? The Sellafield leukemia children?
Having listened to Goodhead, and later seeing that new research showed Goodhead to be wrong, should Spratt have reconvened the RS committee on DU and saved thousands of lives?
Should Darby and Doll be prosecuted for splicing together two separate cancer series to remove evidence that fallout caused child leukemia, failing to cite earlier Danish evidence in papers and pretending that the data was destroyed?
Should the scientists I have introduced here and many that I have not had the space to introduce but who I have named in my books, suffer some kind of investigation and criminal prosecution?
Remember, we are dealing with the illness and death of innocent people resulting from twisted evidence and political and scientific chicanery. Or on occasion, maybe not, maybe just genuine differences of opinion. And we have to be careful: if such an organization as a committee for scientific dishonesty was set up, could it not be used, as the Royal Society was used, to itself deny good research or underpin bad practice? I believe that the answer is transparency and oppositional committees. CERRIE was set up as such a committee, and it would have fulfilled its remit if the final report had been allowed to include all sides of the argument, and if the research had been allowed to continue. Then politicians could have made up their minds and the public could have seen the arguments.
What all these stories have in common is that there is no such ‘committee to investigate scientific dishonesty.’ In the UK everything is informal, but this means nothing happens. Complaints were made to the BMA, and the BMJ about three of the above, Darby, Doll and Cartwright. In each case, the finding was that there had been a case to answer but nothing could be done. The BMA can sanction a doctor for sexually molesting a patient, can remove him from practice, but it can do nothing about a doctor who writes a bogus research paper that supports an industry which is routinely killing thousands with its environmental releases. I reported Darby and Doll to the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty, but their investigating judge eventually ruled that too much time had elapsed between the paper (1993) and the complaint (2003) so their statute of limitations applied.
By their bias and their inappropriate epidemiology and support of an incorrect model underpinning radiation releases from nuclear sites, these people have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. They are as culpable as if they had poisoned them. They are not alone: I can name many people who are equally culpable and should answer in a court of law. If the Thalidomide research scientists were sentenced in Germany for their contribution to the teratogenic effect of the drug, then these people and other scientists who exclude evidence, bias their own results or knowingly use science to support harmful processes should also be sent to prison. Laws were laid down in times when science was not an issue and contamination and its effects were not tied so strongly to financial interests. Society has been overtaken by scientific crimes which are not presently recognized, though in effect they have the same effect as other crimes and often have much more serious and wide ranging consequences. It is time that an independent UK Scientific Oversight Board, or Committee for Scientific Dishonesty was set up to try these scientists and journal referees, using Judges and rules of evidence, with prosecution and defence counsel and scientists acting as expert witnesses.
Postscript October 2011
The essay above was a contribution to the book Iraq Silent Death edited by Christian Scherrer of the Hiroshima Peace Institute and published recently by University Sains Malaysia ISBN No 978-983-861-504-4. But you won’t find it on Amazon. The basis of the essay was a presentation I made at the Royal Society in London in 2008 in a meeting called “Scientific Dishonesty.” I was referring to events at the science policy interface that had occurred between 2001 and 2007. These instances of scientific dishonesty and bias were a result of scientists who had become enrolled in a system. But since then things have got a great deal worse. A taster of this is given in the same book by the philosopher Piotr Bein who draws out in his essay the system of media control and infiltration of NGOs being developed by the military and the pro nuclear groups. The situation now, following the Fukushima catastrophe, which is a potential catastrophe for the nuclear military combine as well as a very real catastrophe for the people of Japan, is alarming and clear. I will briefly introduce some more characters who I believe are dishonest scientists: but in these cases, their positioning history and behaviour make it clear that their positions and status have been orchestrated to ensure that the wrong advice is given to government, advice that protects the nuclear industry, the military and powerful financial interests. In asking for independent experts to assess science for policymakers, the existence of these individuals (and there are others in key positions) shows that some serious mistakes have been made.
1. Dr Richard Wakeford
Wakeford worked for British Nuclear Fuels Sellafield for most of his working life and was ultimately head of research on the radiation health effects. His degree was in physics and his PhD from Liverpool University (which apparently had to be resubmitted) was in some arcane area of particle physics.
He admitted to me that he knows nothing about chemistry or biology, and cares less. And although he has published in the area of epidemiology, like me he is not a university trained epidemiologist.
I first came across him in Ireland when he was sent to pacify the Irish who were exercised about the cancer increases along the Irish Sea coast which locals (rightly) blamed on the huge amounts of contamination from BNFL Sellafield, Wakeford’s employers. His job was to attack anyone who argued differently and this he did with great gusto, describing himself to me once as “BNFLs Rottweiler.” He collaborated with other scientifically dishonest people including Dr Sarah Darby (who I introduced in the essay above) and Sir Richard Doll. The focus was to show that low levels of exposure to internal radioactivity were harmless, something that Darby and Doll had tried doing with the Nordic Leukemia study, a classic case of scientific dishonesty. Wakeford has recently put out a new paper of his own (Wakeford 2010) on this which is equally dishonest in that he has displaced a time series data point to the beginning of its span, thus suggesting no effect where in fact there was an effect. He also failed to address or cite the child leukemia peak in Denmark, the only data stream that goes back far enough to detect the effect (See Wolves of Water, pp.305-316, and see see Low Level Radiation Campaign >> click on “Dishonesty” in the left-hand nav bar).
But I digress. It is not my purpose to show Wakeford to be biased, dishonest and wrong (all of which is true). What concerns me is his trajectory, his career. In 2004 he was on the CERRIE committee, representing BNFL. And he did represent BNFL. But that’s OK. Everyone knew where he was coming from and could make allowances. After CERRIE, Wakeford began attacking me personally in the columns of the Journal of Radiological Protection of which he was Editor. This is very bad form, as no one was peer reviewing what he wrote. And what he wrote was libelous and untrue. He did not ask me to respond. The attacks were about cancer and leukemia near the Irish Sea, and also other studies I had done which showed internal radiation exposure to be seriously hazardous. But again, everyone knew where he was coming from.
Around the time I began to show theoretically that Uranium was a serious hazard due to its secondary photoelectron effects ([see Wings of Death, Chapter 7, p. 188- and Wolves of Water, p.59, p.450, p.456]) which explained the cancers and malformations in Iraq, it became transparently obvious that the ICRP risk model that Wakeford was using was in complete disarray. The National Radiological Protection Board (which had become the appropriately named HPARP, Health Protection Agency, Radiation Protection Division) and others, had tried to address this issue but could not. They (and Wakeford) had lost the scientific argument. Dr Jack Valentin, the top man in ICRP (not quite the top man, see below) had taken retirement: he had had enough. The writing was on the wall. Valentin had conceded that the ICRP model was faulty and could not be used to assess risk in situations like Fukushima. This was on video, captured by Ditta Rietuma and put on the Internet e.g. at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2JFxnAkTW4
What to do?
Here is what they did. Clearly Wakeford was the sharpest knife in their drawer. He is clever, knowledgeable, unprincipled and vicious. But they could not use him as he was working for BNFL. He was demonstrably biased. So he “took early retirement.” Immediately he was made a “Visiting Professor” at the Dalton Institute, which is the nuclear energy funded school of the University of Manchester. Now he was “independent” and soon he appeared as an independent advisor. He turned up at the Kings Cliffe enquiry into the (disgraceful and dangerous) plan to bury huge amounts of radioactive waste in a landfill near Peterborough. I was asked by the locals to act as expert witness in that enquiry which was before a planning inspector, not a judge. I investigated the issues and soon found evidence of a conspiracy between the company making the application and their independent advisors, and possibly also the Environment Agency. It was quite clear cut. Additionally I found massive errors in both the application, the impact statements and the Environment Agency documents passing the application as being safe. But Wakeford got up and told the enquiry that I represent the wildest end of scientific understanding in this area and suggested that everything I wrote and said should be ignored. Nothing new there except that Wakeford was described as “independent scientific expert” and on the basis of his evidence, the planning officer totally ignored the evidence I gave.
Then there is Fukushima. When this happened I was the first to draw attention to the obvious massiveness of the events and to compare them with Chernobyl. I said on TV and radio, BBC, ITV and Russia Today that Fukushima was worse than Chernobyl. I was rapidly excluded from the BBC who shamefully went along with the pro-nuclear views and continue to do so. But who was there talking down the accident? Richard Wakeford, independent scientific expert.
Now there is another planning enquiry, into the new-build of a nuclear power station in Somerset at Hinkley Point, a place where I have done several studies showing significant excess risks from breast cancer and also infant deaths. Who will be the main expert for the health issues? Professor Richard Wakeford, independent scientist from the Dalton Institute in Manchester. But most worrying of all is that he has now appeared on Committee 1 of the ICRP (www.icrp.org), which has now moved from Sweden to Canada. Wakeford is also advising the EU and was on the UK Department of Health Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) committee advising the government on the seriousness of Fukushima (totally wrongly as it turned out) and the Japanese government also. He pops up everywhere, Fukushima, Kings Cliffe, at the EU in Brussels, Hinkley Point, the Scarlet Pimpernel of the nuclear industry.
So what is my point? It is this. The nuclear-military complex are orchestrating their people into key positions. It was always so, but now is screamingly apparent as they have had to dispense with subtlety owing to the panic resulting in nuclear power following Fukushima. So my message: Beware of Richard Wakeford. Oh, one last thing. He is almost certainly the anonymous blogger Richard D who puts up the chrisbusbyexposed website. The knowledge the blogger has of the research area, and what I have done, and the very words he uses make it clear that either Wakeford is the writer of this blog or he feeds him with information. Wakeford denies this. The nuclear military complex have a machine, a media machine, a propaganda black ops machine, and Wakeford is part of it, the science part.
Finally there is an interesting angle here. The nuclear industry needs somewhere to stick the nuclear waste. The Swedes have come up with the solution: They will put it in copper cylinders in a deep repository under the Baltic Sea, already the most radioactive sea in the world. To ensure that the project is seen to be fairly assessed, the Swedish radiological protection outfit, SSM are enrolling “independent experts.” The protocol for ensuring the independence of these external experts was set up by the International Atomic Energy Agency, an agency that “seeks to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.” (IAEA Statute, Article 2) No bias there then. The requirement for independence is that the expert will not have worked for the nuclear industry for two years prior to being enrolled. That’s how a person like Professor Richard Wakeford can become an “independent expert.” The activity of the nuclear operators in Sweden is not restricted to Forsmark. There is a rapidly developing waste recycling plant run by Studsvik (company name) near Nyköping in eastern Sweden which dilutes Canadian reactor parts into saucepans and tips the excess waste in the Baltic. Who is the chief health authority in Sweden?
2. Dr Lars-Erik Holm
Well, I won't say too much about Lars-Erik Holm. He is the ex-Chair of ICRP and a member of the main committee in 1986-89 and a delegate to UNSCEAR for many years. He was the head of the Swedish Radiation Protection organization, previously known as SSI, was also Chair of UNSCEAR in 2001 and a delegate to UNSCEAR in 2006. He is famously on record as stating that the total death toll of Chernobyl is limited to 30 highly irradiated power station operators. He began his career researching the effects of radioiodine. He did this by an epidemiological study of patients who had received radioactive iodine treatment to reduce overactive thyroid glands. Dr John Gofman, ex-head of biomedical effects for the USA Atomic Energy Agency, took some time to deconstruct the Holm Iodine study. He pointed out that Holm had removed any patient whose cancer developed in the first five years after treatment and concluded after more than 11 pages of analysis in his book (Gofman 1990) that the Holm Iodine study was a “A Fatally Flawed Study.” It used incorrect controls to argue that internal exposure from radioiodine was less effective in causing cancer than external radiation at the same dose. Its results certainly protected the nuclear industry, enabling the ICRP to set limits to exposure high, and it was only when the Chernobyl accident occurred that Holm's flawed study was seen to have produced wildly incorrect predictors of harm. It is truly extraordinary that such a study made it through peer review.
In any event, this was Holm's first step on the ladder to fame and fortune. But here is the best of all. Lars-Erik Holm is currently the Medical Officer of Health for Sweden. The man who is at the very top of the Swedish Health system — a country bordering the Baltic Sea, the most radioactive in the world, where the effects of Chernobyl are significant and measurable (Tondel 1996), where there is a renaissance of nuclear power and where a huge nuclear waste repository is being built under the Baltic Sea at Forsmark. And from this position he was instrumental in having Martin Tondel cease research which showed that the health effects of the Chernobyl accident in Sweden has caused a significant increase in cancer. Yet what he found was perhaps the most important finding (see reference below) in cancer research of the last twenty years.
The nuclear-military complex had to have their man in at the top in Sweden for all this to go ahead. And there he is. Lars-Erik Holm.
Busby, C. C. (1995), Wings of Death: Nuclear Pollution and Human Health (Aberystwyth: Green Audit)
Busby Chris (2006), Wolves of Water. A Study Constructed from Atomic Radiation, Morality, Epidemiology, Science, Bias, Philosophy and Death. Aberystwyth: Green Audit
Busby C.C (2003) ed with Bertell R, Yablokov A, Schmitz Feuerhake I and Scott Cato M. ECRR2003: 2003 recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk- The health effects of ionizing radiation at low dose--Regulator's edition. (Brussels: ECRR) 2004 Translations of the above into French Japanese Russian and Spanish (see www.euradcom.org for details)
Busby CC (2005) Depleted Uranium Weapons, metal particles and radiation dose. European J. Biology and Bioelectromagnetics. 1(1) 82-93
Busby CC (2005) Does uranium contamination amplify natural background radiation dose to the DNA? European J. Biology and Bioelectromagnetics. 1 (2) 120-131
Busby CC, Bramhall R and Dorfman P (2004) CERRIE Minority Report 2004: Minority Report of the UK Department of Health/ Department of Environment (DEFRA) Committee Examining Radiation Risk from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) Aberystwyth: Sosiumi Press
Busby Chris (2009) Depleted Uranium, Why all the fuss? Disarmament Forum 3 25-33 Geneva: United Nations
CERRIE (2004) Report of the Committee Examining Radiation Risk from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) Chilton, UK: National Radiological Protection Board
Darby, S. C., Olsen, J. H., Doll, R., Thakrav, B., de Nully Brown, P., Storm, H. H., Barlow, L., Langmark, F., Teppo, L., and Tulinius, H. (1992), `Trends in Childhood Leukemia in the Nordic Countries in Relation to Fallout from Nuclear Weapons Testing', British Medical Journal, 304: 1005-9.
Gofman 1990 Radiation-Induced cancer from Low-Dose Exposure: an Independent Analysis. John W. Gofman M.D/, Ph.D. First Edition. Committee for Social Responsibility, Inc. CNR Book Division. Post Office Box 11207 San Francisco California 94101 USA [For more information see www.llrc.org >> click on “Dishonesty” in the left-hand nav bar.]
Scott Cato MS, Busby CC, Bramhall R (2000) I don’t know Much about Science: political decision making in scientific and technical areas. Aberystwyth: Green Audit (this book influenced the structure and formation of the CERRIE committee and advocates an oppositional structure to science advisory committees in order to allow for cultural bias in science advice. It has now been carried forward by PINCHE in Europe.).
Tondel M, Carlsson G, Eriiksson M, Jakobssen S, Flodin U, Skoldestig A, Axelson O (1996) Incidence of neoplasms in ages 0-19 y in parts of Sweden with high 137Cs fallout after the Chernobyl accident. Health Phys; 71: 947-50
Van den Hazel P, Zuurbier M, Bistrup M L, Busby C, Fucic A, Koppe JG et al (2006) Policy and science in children’s health and environment: Recommendations from the PINCHE project. Acta Paediatrica S 453 114-119
Wakeford Richard, Darby Sarah and Murphy Michael M G (2010) Temporal trends in childhood leukaemia incidence following exposure to radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. Rad. Envir. Biophys. 49 213-227
brian (not verified)
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