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Lost in Translation: Science, Dishonesty and the Science/ Policy Interface Chris Busby, Ph. D University of Liverpool/ Green Audit • Scientific Secretary: European Committee on Radiation Risk • UK Ministry of Defence Depleted Uranium Oversight Board (DUOB) • UK Dept of Health Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE) • Leader: Science/ Policy interface; Policy Information Network for Child Health and the Environment (PINCHE; European Union). [email protected] ac. uk; [email protected] org
The Problem 1. Democracy depends upon the policymakers having the best knowledge of the consequences of their decisions. 2. 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) 3. 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) 4. Peer-review literature is often biased by the affiliation of the researchers, the affiliation of the reviewer or the editor. 5. Peer-review literature may be biased by the choice of the research topic (therefore who funds the research). 6. Peer review literature may be so brushed and spun as to approach dishonesty; it may in fact have false data and be dishonest (Busby Wolves of Water, 2006)
The consequences: illness and death 1. Policy based on dishonest or biased peer- reviewed research, or based on biased or dishonest advice from expert committees has resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths of adults and children and will result in more. 2. 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. 3. There is no independent Committee for Scientific Dishonesty or Scientific Oversight Board in the UK which might investigate accusations of dishonesty or bias. (Such an organisation exists in Denmark)
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.
Some policy examples 1. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; BSE/CJD; Expert committee ignored scientists (e. g. Prof. Richard Lacey) who brought evidence that agent crossed species barrier; many died. (Sir Richard Southwood) 2. Chernobyl; NRPB and the infant leukemias ; NRPB and the Upland radio. Caesium contamination: After Chernobyl NRPB advised Cs-137 contamination of upland areas (Wales, Cumbria Yorkshire) was at safe levels and would clear in weeks (Southwood); areas are still under sheep restriction. Children died of leukemia. Adults cancer rates increased; cancer registry falsified figures (see Wolves of Water). 3. Trichloroethylene carcinogenicity and the EU; Christina Ruden (Karolinska Inst) 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 controls 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 COMARE, 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; I leave this one to others at this meeting to discuss.
Example 4: Radiation and Health Dishonesty, stupidity or cultural bias I will present brief accounts of the behaviour of five individuals in the area of radiation and health. If this were a court of law, and in another land (e. g. thalidomide in Germany) the charge could be perjury and manslaughter by accessory to mass poisoning. I will invite discussion on the extent to which the behaviour of the scientists presented can be seen as: • scientifically dishonest (criminal), • culturally biased or • Innocent by virtue of stupidity In all cases, the results of the behaviour described has been hundreds of thousands of deaths of human beings…
1. Prof. Dudley Goodhead ex MRC Harwell, Chair: Do. H Committee examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters, CERRIE founded by Michael Meacher (DEFRA) )and Yvette Cooper (Do. H) in 2001 to examine evidence that ICRP models was wrong for internal exposures (e. g. Pu-239, Sr-90, Tritium). CERRIE remit was to take evidence from all sides, carry out studies and provide a final report after 3 years showing areas of agreement, areas of disagreement and recommending research to resolve the issue. Goodhead initially set up an epidemiology sub committee to obtain data from ONS to jointly ( BNFL, NRPB, Busby) carry out two studies. First to study breast cancer near Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex and second to examine childhood leukemia by year of birth of mother (to examine weapons fallout as a cause. Both the above studies had already been carried out and published by Green Audit. In the Green Audit Bradwell study we found a doubling breast cancer risk in census wards adjacent to radioactive isotope contaminated intertidal sediment on the river Blackwater. The government SAHSU group had followed the Bradwell study and had advised that there was no excess cancer risk in any ward. Thus the CERRIE joint study was to resolve this issue and answer the question of breast cancer risk near the contamination.
Half way through the lifetime of CERRIE one member of the 3 person secretariat, Marion Hill, resigned and accused the Goodhead another secretariat member, Ian Fairlie of collusion over the organisation of proceedings and of (unintentional) bias. Her resignation letter was leaked and is reproduced in Wolves of Water. It became apparent half way through that SAHSU had made errors in their analysis of the Bradwell breast cancers, omitting critical ward populations. This would have resulted in the joint CERRIE epidemiological study ultimately finding that there was indeed a significant excess breast cancer in the coastal wards contaminated by radioactive discharges. Meacher was sacked by Blair two years into the CERRIE process; the ONS data needed to carry out the Bradwell study had been delayed being sent by ONS. Goodhead unilaterally closed down the CERRIE epidemiology studies despite protest. Following the loss of Meacher, Goodhead, having initially agreed, and having been later been reminded of his remit by Meacher, refused to include any dissent in the final CERRIE report. Goodhead used legal threats to committee members to force a vote to exclude any dissenting statements. A Minority report was published by Busby, Bramhall and CERRIE secretary member Paul Dorfman. As a result of this, women will continue to die of breast cancer near nuclear sites and other radioactively contaminated coasts (e. g. Irish sea).
Breast cancer mortality in wards near contaminated mud near Bradwell NPP, Essex, UK (Green Audit 2001)
2. Prof. Sarah Darby was brought into CERRIE by Goodhead who described her as an ‘independent epidemiologist’. Darby, a protégé of Sir Richard Doll was coauthor with him of two seriously biased epidemiological radiation studies. Doll died recently and has been accused in the peer review literature and elsewhere of conflict of interest in his work. I will refer to one of these. The other was of the A-Bomb Test Veterans (see Wolves of Water). Darby and Doll published their Nordic Leukemia Study study in 1993. This was very influential at the time of the Sellafield child leukemia court case. The study showed that there was no sudden increase in child leukemia at the time of the 1955 -65 weapons fallout period and therefore, the internal radioactive fission product contamination (e. g. Sr-90, Pu-239, Cs-137) which occurred was not sufficient to cause child leukemia. This meant that the same substances could not be causing leukemia near nuclear sites The Nordic Leukemia Study was advanced in CERRIE as evidence that internal radioactive contamination could not have caused any measurable effects at Sellafield, near nuclear sites or after Chernobyl.
The study was dishonest The study claimed to employ the childhood leukemia data from the combined registries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland Iceland. It showed that in this combined dataset, there was no clear increase in child leukemia at the point where the fission product levels in the environment suddenly increased due to atmospheric weapons testing. The graph showing this, taken from their paper in the British Medical Journal is reproduced below (upper trace; stars show fallout events)
The study conclusions were based on the graph and a complex mathematical regression method. When asked for the raw data, Darby told CERRIE that it had been destroyed. I discovered that the series was not of the Nordic children but was based solely on the Danish data from 1948 to 1960 which had then been spliced on to the combined Nordic countries thereafter. I contacted the BMJ and asked for the ethical committee to investigate Darby and Doll’s paper. I wrote to the Danish Committee for Scientific Dishonesty demanding an investigation. I contacted the original founder of the Danish Cancer Registry Johannes Clemmesen who had retired but was himself concerned about the behaviour of the registry since he had left. The BMJ questioned Darby who suddenly miraculously ‘found’ the destroyed data. Clemmesen gave me the Danish Data. I plotted the Danish child leukemia and found a peak in leukemia at the peak year in fallout. I also found preceding published scientific papers which drew attention to this increase in child leukemia in Denmark at the time of the fallout. CERRIE asked Darby and Doll for an explanation. Darby now told the surprised committee that she had known about these previous papers and that is why they did the study, to see if there was an effect in the other Nordic countries. But since there was no data from the other Nordic countries until after the fallout peak, such a study could not add new evidence or discount the Danish evidence. None of these preceding papers were cited by Darby and Doll in their BMJ 1993 paper.
As a result, the ICRP model remains in place, the Sellafield children and Irish sea coast children continue to die of cancer, and the nuclear industry continues to discharge radionuclides to the environment. The BMJ have done nothing; the Danish Committee have said it was too long ago for them to act.
3. Dr John Steward, Director, Wales Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU) Steward’s WCISU took over the running of cancer registration in Wales one year after the government’s Wales Cancer Registry (WCR) was suddenly closed down and its personnel dispersed in 1995. WCR sudden closure followed their 1995 release to Green Audit of their small area cancer data 1974 -89. This followed a letter by Busby to the BMJ suggesting that the high weapons fallout in Wales was the cause of cancer increases relative to England (see Wings of Death). Using the WCR data and funded by the Irish Government, from 1998 -2000 Busby showed that there was significant excess cancer along the Irish sea north coast of Wales where Sellafield radioactivity washed up. This resulted in two TV documentaries and the founding of CERRIE. Steward attacked the studies and also the data. He organised a new study showing that there was no sea coast effect. The WCR data had been removed from the Welsh Office Computer and Steward stated, supported by COMARE (qv), that there had been errors in the WCR data. WCISU removed 15% of the children from the cancer database and many thousands of adults. When in 2004 a TV company discovered the children with cancer in North Wales, Steward constructed a new study in which he (stupidly? Criminally? Accidentally? ) inflated the base population of the area in which the children lived so as to reduce the level of statistical significance of the cluster.
I wrote a paper for the Journal of Public Health, pointing out Steward’s errors. It was rejected by the editor, Norman Vetter (from Cardiff). I phoned the in house-editor at Oxford University Press. She overrode Vetter and the paper was finally published (Busby and Howard 2005) I formally complained to President of the Royal College of Physicians (Institute of Public Health), Rod Griffiths. He promised to investigate. Steward had attacked my epidemiology in public, had called me a fraudulent scientist, had called for me to retract and to be more careful in his peer reviewed papers. He had been supported in all this by the Welsh Assembly Government, and by COMARE. I wrote to COMARE demanding an apology for the attacks on me over this issue which they had published. Steward had to accept he had made serious errors. Nevertheless he did not retract his conclusions. RCP said they could do nothing but accepted he had made serious errors. COMARE eventually send me a long letter conceding that Steward had made the errors, but still maintained that the child leukemias (now conceded) had not been caused by radiation. Steward, an epidemiologist, is still in his job.
Results for Adults: Wales 1974 -89 (Busby 2000) This shows results for all malignancy all adults 1974 -89. The details for the AOR bands are given in the table above. Top right is a bubble plot of the individual RRs, radius weighted for expectation by distance from the sea. Bottom right shows a LOESS plot of the risks in the AOR bands. Note the sharp increase in risk in the 1 km strip. This is a common feature of the results for adults and children.
Childhood cancer in Wales by distance from Irish Sea (km) ( Busby 2000)
4. Prof Ray Cartwright, Director of Epidemiology of the Cancer Research Campaign, was co-author of a study of childhood leukemia near radioactively contaminated estuaries, published in 1990. He was put in charge of the £ 14 Million UKCCCR joint cancer charity/ government study into the cause of childhood leukemia. Despite having discovered and published in 1990 that there was a correlation between child leukemia and living near fission product contaminated estuaries, Carwright expressly excluded fission product exposure from the protocols of the study, despite this having been on the initial list of possible causes. I wrote to him in 1994 and received a letter stating this. At the public meeting presenting the results in 1999 Cartwright was asked by Richard Bramhall why he had not included fission products given his 1990 findings. Carwright replied from the stage that he had carried out a second study showing that there was no effect.
A series of follow-up letters to Cartwright were not answered and Bramhall complained to the British Medical Association Fitness to Practice Directorate. Whilst they were deliberating, Cartwright produced a short BSc Thesis from one of his Leeds University students, Frances Lloyd, giving data that she interpreted as showing that there was no estuary effect. This paper was badly written and included many arithmetical and epidemiological errors. It was considered by CERRIE and dismissed as worthless. But the question remained as to how a student thesis in 1999 could inform a decision to exclude the most probably cause of childhood leukemia from the largest case control study ever carried out, funded partly by money given by the public to find the cause of this dreadful and often fatal illness. The BMA found that Cartwright had indeed misled the UKCCCR meeting about the study (which never actually existed, and we might say, he lied). They did not sanction him for the misdirection of the epidemiological study and the consequent misuse of funds. They asked him to apologise in a letter to Bramhall, which he did.
5. Prof Bryn Bridges, Chair, Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) As Chair and guiding force of COMARE Bridges, who retired two years ago, consistently refused to properly examine any evidence that there was a flaw in radiation protection. Bridges, as gatekeeper of the paradigm, kept COMARE as a fortress between all the real evidence that the ICRP risk models were seriously flawed, and politicians who would have to act upon such evidence. Bridges, assiduously attacked and dismissed the evidence of the Irish Sea coast cancers, the Welsh Cancer Registry studies, the studies of Hinkley Point and of Bradwell. They regularly had to apologise for errors. Although originally set up by Sir Douglas Black to be independent of NRPB, COMARE operated from the same site and shared the same phone number and staff. In his most well known work, COMARE IV, which argues that the Sellafield leukemia cluster is not caused by radiation, Bridges secretly employed NRPB calculations to prove the point. These calculations themselves were never released.
I pointed out in a letter to Bridges in 2000 that the increase in infant leukemia which occurred in five European countries in the cohort who were in the womb at the time of the fallout defined an error of some hundred fold in the ICRP model. These results were in the peer-review literature from four different groups and in five different countries. Thus the ICRP model was invalidated, and the error was the correct magnitude to explain the Sellafield child leukemias (also caused by exposure to the same substances in the womb). Bridges ‘sent’ the argument to the COMARE trans-generational effects group (i. e. removed it from the agenda of the full committee). The trans-generational sub committee constituted three people: himself, Ray Cartwright and Eric Wright (who was absent at the meeting). He wrote to me saying that COMARE found the infant leukemia results interesting and would bear them in mind. Bridges was a eminence gris in the CERRIE process, sitting in on all the meetings. He originally attempted to remove credibility from the committee by calling it a consultative committee: this was overruled by Meacher.
6. The Royal Society and Depleted Uranium Prof. Brian Spratt FRS and Prof William Bonfield FRS; Depleted Uranium munitions were first employed extensively in 1991 in Iraq in Gulf War 1. By the mid 1990 s Gulf War syndrome had incapacitated 20% of soldiers in the UK and USA. 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. Meacher suggested that I should be in this committee but the RS refused. They agreed to ask me to give evidence.
Pause for thought: Why the Royal Society? But 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 was the 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 (who we have already met). The committee took evidence from many scientists, but 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 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. I gave the veteran’s 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 RS good name was being used for political purposes. My report: ‘Depleted Science’ was presented at various conferences and published on the internet on several sites.
The Depleted Uranium Oversight Board Following the Royal Society Report, the Mo. D set up the independent Depleted Uranium Oversight Board, 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 4 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; that uranium could not be assessed using ICRP radiological risk models. Senior and influential scientists argued that there was a problem. I brought many of these arguments before Brain Spratt. All where dismissed or ignored. One such argument, now becomes the focus of my argument today. In 2003 I presented my 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.
Phantom photoelectron radioactivity of Uranium and other elements of high atomic number (Busby 2005) 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 element. The effective atomic number of living tissue is Z = 3. 4 Uranium, as UO 2++ also binds strongly to DNA, and this property has been used to image DNA in the electron microscope since it 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 uranium binds to DNA and focuses natural background into the DNA. The fourth power ratio between uranium and living tissue is about 250, 000. In 2005, Hainfeld in the USA patented gold (Z=79) nanoparticles for enhancing X-ray in tumour destruction; this means that my idea is correct. In 2007 my research student Andreas Elsaesser applied the CERN FLUKA Monte Carlo radiation track program to the problem of gold and uranium particles; results showed that my predictions were almost exactly correct.
I asked Prof Spratt, after my presentation to the DUOB whether he still thought that the Royal Society report had been correct. I asked Spratt 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, said I should send 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 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 is prosthetic materials. The high Z theory will have an effect on the use of such materials since gold and platinum are often employed. Bonfield sent it 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 revision. Bonfield rejected the papers: there was pressure on space in the journal. It is unheard of for a editor to overrule the referees, especially in an area where the consequences are so important for human health I complained to the in-house editor Tim Holt. I made the obvious points about the Royal Society DU committee and politics. Holt agreed to talk to Bonfield again rejected the papers. I contacted the Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society Peter Collins. He said 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 have complained in an open letter to the President of the Royal Society,
Questions for the audience; Questions for Society Are these 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? 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 other scientists I have introduced, Dudley Goodhead, Bryn Bridges, John Steward, William Bonfield, and many I have not had the space to introduce, but who I can name, suffer some kind of investigation and criminal prosecution?
Remember: illness and death 1. Policy based on dishonest or biased peer- reviewed research, or based on biased or dishonest advice from expert committees has resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths of adults and children and will result in more. 2. 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. 3. There is no independent Committee for Scientific Dishonesty or Scientific Oversight Board in the UK which might investigate accusations of dishonesty or bias. (Such an organisation exists in Denmark)