US chemical lobby welcomes congressional probe of cancer research agency

The United States chemical industry is celebrating a government investigation into alleged scientific fraud within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research agency. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has applauded a letter sent by Republican leaders earlier this month that seeks details about the situation from the head of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). At the centre of the controversy is Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at NIH’s National Cancer Institute who chaired a working group of the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic’ in 2015. There were revelations last year that Blair did not disclose findings from unpublished research he was involved with that appeared to exonerate glyphosate as a carcinogen. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Trey Gawdy, is now seeking more information about why the NIH did not publish results in question, and has requested a briefing from NIH staff by 22 August. In addition, he asked the agency to hand over all of its documents and communications relating to the decision not to publish these research findings. Blair has argued that he didn’t divulge the research results because they were preliminary and unpublished, and were therefore not supposed to be considered by the IARC working group. Cal Dooley, the ACC’s president and CEO, said the ‘potential omission of critical studies … underscores the systematic problems that exist within the [IARC] and the impact their controversial findings have on public health’. Back in June, the ACC called for an investigation of IARC after it was reported that Blair had withheld the preliminary data.

Chemistry World, 11 August 2017 ; https://www.chemistryworld.com