Scientific Research and Industry Money Create a Toxic Mix

The Takeaway

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Back in the 1970s, a group of workers at a Texas chemical plant were diagnosed with fatal brain cancer.

All of the workers had been exposed to vinyl chloride—a chemical used to make PVC plastic—and their cancer clusters made headlines in newspapers across the country. The World Health Organization even took a stand, stating in no uncertain terms that vinyl chloride causes brain tumors.

But a generation later, scientists say there is no clear link between vinyl chloride and cancer. The evidence found in Texas seems to have disappeared from their research.

And that's because corporate-funded research is dominating scientific study more than ever, according to a new investigation from The Center for Public Integrity.

The investigation unfolds through a four-part series, entitled "Science for Sale," and it reveals how scientists—dubbed as "rented white coats"—defend toxic chemicals on behalf of the industries that hire them. 

David Heath, a senior reporter for The Center for Public Integrity, explains how corporate-funded research can obscure the truth and put public health at risk.

What you'll learn from this segment:

  • How corporate-funded research manipulates science.
  • How shrinking support for government research contributes to the problem.
  • What, if anything, is being done to combat this problem.