January 20th, 2012
Scientific dishonesty and nuclear power
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
Let me list some examples:
Prof. Brian Spratt FRS and Prof William Bonfield FRS, who I will present below.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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