03 April 2008 23:56 [Source: ICIS news]
CORRECTION: In the ICIS news story headlined "House chem-lobbyist investigation entangles ACC" dated 3 April 2008, please read in the ninth paragraph "... concern that the ISRTP favoured studies that supported ACC policy..." instead of "... concern that the ACS favoured studies that supported ACC policy...". A corrected story follows.
By Ben Lefebvre
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Congress is widening the scope of its investigation into possible conflicts of interest at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to include whether major chemical industry lobbying groups have unduly influenced government and professional chemist groups, a source said on Thursday.
The House Energy and Commerce committee said it has given the American Chemistry Council (ACC) two weeks to provide any records of payment and communications among it and the former head of the American Chemical Society (ACS) as well as the International Society for Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (ISRTP).
In a 2 April letter to ACC president Jack Gerard, committee members said they were concerned that lobbying groups have “manipulate [d] public opinion related to certain chemicals” and asked the ACC to explain the roles played by EPA chemical review panel members who have received money from the ACC, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical and others involved in the industry.
The committee started the investigation after the non-profit Environmental Working Group in February accused the ACC of unfairly lobbying the EPA to fire a chemist from a peer-review board panel.ACC spokeswoman Tiffany Harrington said the group received the letter on Wednesday. She declined to comment until the group could release a formal statement.
William Carroll, the former ACS president, could not be reached for comment.
Sally Carr, ISRTP executive secretary, said there was “no relationship” between the ISRTP and the ACC. However, she added that ISRTP members sit on the boards of the ACC and EPA.
She referred further questions to ISRTP president Christopher Borgert, who said he was unaware of the investigation.
The House committee brought up a letter sent in August 2002 to the publisher of the society's journal, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. In the letter, several scientists expressed concern that the ISRTP favoured studies that supported ACC policy after the trade group gave funds to the journal.
The journal is published by a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier, the same corporate parent of ICIS news.
The committee has also accused the EPA of ignoring scientists who raised concerns about the possible health effects of certain chemicals.
In March, the committee gave the EPA two weeks to deliver all its records pertaining to Deborah Rice, who the agency removed from a peer-review board studying the health effects of the flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (deca) in August, after it received a letter from the ACC accusing her of bias.
Rice, who serves full time as a scientist at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke before the Maine state legislature in early 2007 about the possible health affects of deca and supported a state ban on the substance.
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