IARC fails to address ethical and scientific improprieties of its Russian asbestos project

Tue, Sep 9, 2014


Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada.ca

In March 2013 and again in November 2013, numerous scientists from around the world called on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to end its collaboration in a project, funded by the Russian government, regarding health risks of chrysotile asbestos mined at Russia’s Uralasbest mine. The mine is the biggest producer and exporter of asbestos in the world.

The Russian government and the Russian scientists with whom IARC is collaborating are closely linked to the Russian asbestos industry, are strong promoters of the asbestos trade and oppose any ban on the use of asbestos. The purpose of the Russian government in funding the project is to advance its position that chrysotile asbestos can be “safely” used.

As scientists around the world have pointed out, both on an ethical level and a scientific level the study is gravely flawed.

Dr. Christopher Wild, director of IARC, has now sent a letter of reponse that fails to address any of the disturbing ethical and scientific improprieties that have been raised. Wild states that the IARC Ethics Committee “acknowledged that conducting such a study has inherent risks for IARC, in terms of conflicts of potential interest”, but that the only action the Ethics Committee will take is to “continue to monitor the progress of the study.”

IARC has in the past been infiltrated and improperly influenced by the asbestos industry. It is disturbing and disappointing that IARC is today turning a blind eye to the ethical and scientific improprieties involved in its Uralasbest project.


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