Institute also attempted to shift the
scientific consensus concerning dioxin. In 1990 the Chlorine Institute,
a chlorine industry trade group with members such as Dow Chemical,
Du Pont, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, and Exxon Chemical
Co, organised a conference of dioxin scientists at the Banbury
Center. The Chlorine Institute believed that scientists were coming
to perceive that dioxin was not as dangerous as once thought and
they hoped that the conference would be "beneficial to our interests,
particularly our interest in the paper industry." It appointed
three scientists as organisers and they in turn picked the 38
participants; scientists and regulators from the US and Europe.
Also in attendance was George Carlo, consultant to the Institute.
The Institute hired Edelman Medical Communications to publicise
any conference outcome that was to the Institute's advantage.
(Lapp 1991, p. 10; Roberts, 1991a)
attendees agreed that dioxin affects cells by binding to and activating
a receptor which then acts on the nucleus of the cell, interacting
with the DNA and causing problems. This is similar to the way
steroid hormones act. Some of those attending concluded that this
implied that, as a number of molecules of dioxin had to bind to
the receptor before toxic effects would occur, low doses of dioxin
could be safe and therefore there was a threshold or safe level
of exposure. This, they argued, would imply that the EPA's no
threshold, linear model had overestimated the dangers of dioxin
(Clapp et al 1995, p. 30A)
the conference, Edelman, their PR firm, sent out a press packet
with a background paper put together by Carlo, Edelman and the
Institute, claiming that the conference had reached a consensus
that dioxin was "much less toxic to humans than originally believed."
This outraged some of the scientists present who had not reached
this conclusion and who felt that they had been manipulated by
the Chlorine Institute (Roberts 1991a).
to the magazine Chemistry and Industry, the Institute was merely
coordinating a "public outreach program" to "capitalise [sic]
on the outcome" of the conference. (Quoted in Montague 1991b)
Indeed the industry was able to use the supposed Banbury conference
consensus together with the rat tumour re-count to get some states
in the US to loosen dioxin standards for discharge of wastes into
waterways below those set by the EPA (Bailey 1992). (They are
technically able to do this if they can support their standards
...back to top
'Dueling Studies: How Two Industries Created a Fresh Spin on the
Dioxin Debate', Wall Street Journal, 20 February, p. A4.
Richard, Peter deFur, Ellen Silbergeld and Peter Washburn, 1995,
'EPA on Right Track', Environmental Science and Technology,
Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 29A-30A.
Peter, 1991b, A
Tale of Science and Industry, Rachel's
Hazardous Waste News, No. 248.
David, 1991, 'Defenders of Dioxin: The Corporate Campaign to Rehabilitate
Dioxin', Multinational Monitor (October) , pp. 8-12.
Leslie, 1991a, 'Flap Erupts Over Dioxin Meeting', Science,
Vol. 251 (22 February) , pp. 866-7.
...back to top