Here is some chemistry of bisphenol A, but what is really interesting is this article about Fred vom Saal. It is quite revealing about the way industry produces bad science in order to protect its financial interests:
“The moment we published something on bisphenol A, the chemical industry went out and hired a number of corporate laboratories to replicate our research. What was stunning about what they did . . . was they hired people who had no idea how to do the work.”
Several of my grad school buddies worked on some aspect or other of neuroendocrinology, including environmental endocrine disruptors, including Bisphenol A itself (none of their work is cited in this article, though), so I am quite familiar with the topic through them and their manuscripts, talks, thesis defenses, seminar speakers they invited, and chat over beer. But this article reveals much, much more, e.g., :
By the end of 2004, they had identified 115 published studies on low doses of bisphenol A. They also found a troubling trend. Ninety percent of government studies found significant effects of bisphenol A at doses below the EPA’s lowest adverse effect level, but not a single industry study found any effect. Many of the industry studies, they pointed out, either used a rat strain with very low sensitivity to estrogen or misinterpreted failure to find effects with positive controls. Vom Saal and Hughes urged the EPA to conduct a new risk assessment on bisphenol A.
Yikes! Never having to work on rats before, if I got a manuscript to review and did not know that there were ties with the industry (and thus all the red flags and covering every single little detail, including re-doing the stats!), I probably would have never thought to ask my rat-friends about appropriateness of the strain used in the study and will never figured out I was duped!
After publishing her results, Hunt says, industry “paid people to read our paper and provide talking points, things they could use to say, ‘Well, we aren’t really sure about this, and well, they didn’t do that, and this is suspicious.’ It was such a learning experience for me because I had never had a piece of my work scrutinized in such detail, and I always thought my scientific peers were going to be the ones who were going to be most critical.” Hunt had been “peripherally aware” of the disputes between academics studying endocrine disruption and industry, “but you never knew whether these people were credible scientists or not, and then when you step your own foot into it and you watch, industry really did try to run damage control on our work.”
Yup, that is so typical – inject uncertainty. Chris Mooney’s “Republican War On Science” is chockfull of examples of this particular strategy.
Read the whole article – it is so revealing.
And read this related post: When Conflicts of Interest Threaten Scientific Integrity