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House Small Business and Science Committee Examines “Report on Carcinogens”

Highlights the Importance of Independent Government Science and
Condemns Industry Lobbying and Manipulation

Washington, DC – This morning, April 25th, a joint hearing of the House Small Business and Science Committees examined the Report on Carcinogens (ROC) and it’s alleged impact on small businesses. The ROC is a statutorily mandated program run by the National Toxicology Program/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which is a subdivision of Health and Human Services.

The hearing featured the heads of the NIEHS and Small Business Administration, as well as a panel consisting of Dow Chemical, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (an industry-funded think tank), and a sustainable chemicals company, Bioamber. The hearing occurred against a backdrop of an intense chemical industry campaign to effectively shut down the ROC following the release of the last report, which named formaldehyde and styrene as carcinogens and which was only released after a 5-year delay.

The “Report on Carcinogens” is not a regulatory program, but a scientific research program designed to inform other parts of the government as well as the public and the marketplace. It involves exhaustive scientific peer-review. The chemical industry reportedly mounted an intense pressure campaign on the HHS Secretary Sebelius not to release the report.

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Director Andy Igrejas issued the following statement after today’s hearing.

“Today’s hearing was about whether the chemical industry – led by Dow – should get a political veto over the decisions of government scientists. It’s vitally important that they not.

The Report on Carcinogens is exhaustively peer-reviewed. It’s mandate is to assess the state of the science and publish a report when they determine that something is known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer. That is what they have done in the case of formaldehyde and styrene.

Already America has lost the leadership and respect of the world on health and safety regulatory decisions because the chemical industry has shown an ability to use politics to grind agency work to a halt. World markets are increasingly keying off of Europe instead.

But if Dow has its way, the US government wouldn’t even be able to tell basic truths about something – like whether a chemical causes cancer- until Dow says it’s OK. The public credibility of our health and safety agencies will be destroyed, at home and abroad. Ultimately that will hurt American exports in a world market that increasingly demands safer products.”