Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

US wants scientists kept in the dark – again

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-04-17

An editorial in Nature discusses the shocking irresponsibility of the US in not using the data from 3 million veterans in epidemiological studies on exposure to nasties, including Agent Orange, despite urging from the US National Academy of Sciences.

This wealth of data is important to all of us in a world choking on environmental toxins, including those compounds agencies are keen to class as not a problem.

Nature correctly labels the use of this data as a moral imperative.  It points to interference tactics by the US government and big companies like Monsanto.

Of course, the US government doesn’t want this information used, as it will open the floodgates to massive compensation of veterans (both Vietnam and Gulf War), and the citizens of Vietnam.

Vietnam has long screamed for compensation, pointing to the massive increase in congenital deformities since the war.  US veterans have also pointed to suggestions that their children are affected.

Despite the denials from the US government, these shocking problems in humans are entirely consistent with the way dioxins work on plants.  An intercalating agent, dioxins get between the turns of DNA, deforming the “ladder”, and thus causing transcription errors (affecting the individual organism) as well as copying errors (causing inheritable defects).

Dioxins are not just the problem of those who have been to Vietnam.  They are produced in huge quantities from many industrial processes, and are extremely difficult to "scrub" from smokestacks (including the personal paper-wrapped smokestacks addicting many people).

So, we have an issue that touches the portfolios of ministers for the environment, health, and foreign affairs.  I wonder if any of them will do anything by urging the US government to give the data to the scientists?

Silly me, as if any politician would be taking notice of highly respected scientific panels and journals, at least until the population as a whole demands change.  I bet most of our pollies would think "Nature" was a coffee-table magazine full of photographs of dolphins and meerkats.

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