Asbestos Industry Affiliation Gets Scientist Rejected As Possible Head of French Public Health Agency
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, that means that you’ve been lied to. You were assured that the materials you were working with or the place where you worked or lived was safe. You were not told that you were being exposed to asbestos which could cause you to develop a fatal disease called mesothelioma or other cancer.
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, you understand the importance of knowing the truth. Truth is a golden thread woven into all that we hold dear. Without truth, justice would perish from the earth. Truth is the basis of all law.
So I am pleased to report that in an important scientific matter that involved the potential falsification of public health policy by asbestos interests, truth has prevailed.
A prominent European scientist Dr. Paolo Boffetta who was on track to become the next head of France’s leading epidemiology institute, the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP) has been asked to withdraw his candidacy for that position. Why? Because he reportedly took bribes from the asbestos industry to not tell the truth.
Boffetta is alleged to have been paid by an Italian asbestos company to help it defeat charges of criminal negligence, causing the deaths of a dozen workers who died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos used at the company’s factory in Italy.
At the same time, Boffetta co-authored a scientific article concluding that , “… that the mesothelioma-producing potential of chrysotile is low and thus the number of mesothelioma deaths will be too unstable to be used to estimate the lung cancers caused by it.” Boffetta declared he had no conflict of interest. Yet Boffetta apparently intended to use the article as evidence to help the asbestos industry avoid blame.
Boffetta’s corruption was the subject of investigative reporting by Le Monde, France’s leading newspaper and Boffetta’s defense of asbestos in his scientific journal article was severely criticized by scientists for putting forward inaccurate and misleading information to serve the interests of the asbestos industry.
“When scientists sell their integrity to become highly paid consultants for toxic industries, they become a threat to science and a danger to the health of people and the environment,” observed international anti-asbestos activist Kathleen Ruff.
The National Institute for Health & Medical Research (INSERM) and the University of Paris-Sud, who are responsible for appointing the CESP Director, required Boffetta to withdraw his candidature. The appointment process was very far advanced. Boffetta was the only candidate being considered and the appointment was expected to be shortly confirmed.
That Boffetta was even considered for this important health policy post is an outrage. But thankfully at this point the public’s best interest and the truth have prevailed.