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As I See It

Who Do You Trust?
Posted by Jill Chapin on Jun 25, 2006 - 1:52:00 PM


When it comes to minding our personal health, Rich Gimpelson, an OBGYN in St. Louis advised: Wear your seat belts, don't smoke, drink and eat in moderation, exercise daily, keep your guns locked when not in use, and most important - inherit good genes.

Now here's a guy you can trust. I refer to his advice because his megadose of common sense and honesty are becoming rarer with each pronouncement from three big-time abusers of the public trust. I am referring to the FDA, the EPA and, of course, the pharmaceutical companies.

The FDA recently conceded that its own scientists had found the carcinogen, benzene, in soft drinks to be nearly four times the tap water standard. Despite the World Health Organization's statement that "benzene is carcinogenic to humans and no safe level of exposure can be recommended," the FDA raises no public health concerns about benzene in soft drinks. If benzene sounds familiar, you may have noticed that it is in your gasoline. So the FDA is actually monitoring the "safe" amount of premium unleaded in your Coke.

The FDA is also debating how much fire retardant should be in breast milk. These kinds of musings make it appear that modern experts have lost their intellectual moorings, deep in their own subject matter without a shred of common sense attached to their thought process.

Several years ago, the EPA decided to allow polluters to monitor themselves, one of which was Syngenta, the maker of the fertilizer Atrazene, which is banned by the European Union. Even more appalling, they will be required to monitor only 3% of the highest risk watersheds, leaving 97% monitored by - no one. Inasmuch as the EPA appears to be adopting this laissez-faire attitude in other areas such as forest protection, why are taxpayers footing the bill for an environmental protection agency that is basically abdicating the very oversight protection for which it was created?

Pharmaceutical companies have a special place in the minds of a growing number of people when it comes to disinformation, scare tactics, and a profound concern for their bottom line. According to a recent Harris poll, only nine percent of Americans believe the pharmaceutical industry is trustworthy. Can you blame them, though, when medical knowledge is being corrupted by self-interest or faulty research conducted by or for the industry? Most alarming is that American taxpayers are no longer funding the majority of clinical research. Instead it's the drug companies who are footing the bill. So when the makers of drugs run their own study, do you think they would claim their competition to have the more effective drug?

And how about researchers reporting a possible breakthrough against cancer that is not a drug? They developed white blood cells in lab mice that are immune from tumors, and those mice seem able to pass immunity on to their offspring. Do you think drug companies would react gleefully to this remarkable, non-toxic alternative to their chemotherapy drugs? Can you patent cells?

A recipe for corruption is brewing when heretofore respected organizations are in bed with drug companies. Although lawmakers in twenty states want to ban the mercury-laced drug thimerosal in children's vaccines, the American Academy of Pediatrics says there is no proof that the small amount of mercury in vaccines is harmful. Yet their official policy in 2001 states "Mercury in all of its forms is toxic to the fetus and children, and efforts should be made to reduce exposure to the extent possible. . . ."

So what gives? Well, specifically, the pharmaceuticals give - literally. They gave $1.5 million to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When our once respected medical scientists appear tainted by those not pursuing a higher truth so much as a higher profit, we need to be very wary of where to seek that truth. It no longer seems to be coming from the FDA, the EPA, or the pharmaceuticals. Instead, it appears that the only honest voice out there is not a doctor or a scientist, but a comedian, Bill Maher. Dishing out a hefty dose of humor, this guy gets right to the point. He's says that profits are so enormous for magic pills that drug companies invent the pill first and then conjure up something it can treat, such as social anxiety disorder or restless leg syndrome. He points out how Vioxx and Ambien have actually hurt people, yet it was marijuana (used successfully by AIDS and cancer patients to treat pain) that was declared by the FDA to have no known medical value. With tongue in cheek, he says that marijuana actually has no known lobbying value. He bluntly says that drug companies are pushers, and Congress and the FDA are the cops on the beat who have been paid off to look the other way.

Are you mad as hell yet? If so, what are you planning to do about it? You better think of something quick, because you know that old saying about bad things happening when good people do nothing.


Cliffside Malibu




Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood, Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga, Canyon, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.