This commentary was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 20, Number 1, Pages 18-19, Spring 2015.
Modern medicine has spawned great things like antibiotics, open heart surgery, and corneal transplants. And then there is antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS.
A civic-minded, healthy person volunteers to donate blood but, tested for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), is found to be HIV-positive. This would-be donor will be put on a treatment regimen that follows the (285-page) Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents  and will be thrust into a medical world peppered with acronyms like CD4, ART, HIV RNA, HIV Ag/Ab, NRTI, NNRTI, PI, INSTI, PrEP, and P4P4P.
Adhering to these government-issued guidelines, a “health care provider” will start this healthy blood donor on antiretroviral therapy (ART). For the last two decades the standard for treating HIV infection is a three-drug protocol—“2 nukes and a third drug.” The “2 nukes” are nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) and DNA chain terminators, like AZT (azidothymidine – Retrovir, which is also a NRTI). The “third drug” is a non-NRTI (NNRTI), a protease inhibitor (PI) or an integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI). 
These drugs are toxic. With prolonged use they can cause cardiovascular disease, liver damage, premature aging (due to damage of mitochondria), lactic acidosis, gallstones (especially with protease inhibitors), cognitive impairment, and cancer. The majority of people who take them experience unpleasant side effects, like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
AZT, the most powerful “nuke” in the ART arsenal actually killed some 150,000 “HIV-positive” people when it started being used in 1987 to the mid-1990s, after which, if the drug was used, dosage was lowered.  When an HIV-positive person on long-term ART gets cardiovascular disease or cancer, providers blame the virus for helping cause these diseases. Substantial evidence, however, supports the opposite conclusion: it is the antiretroviral treatment itself that causes cancer, liver damage, cardiovascular and other diseases in these patients.  They are iatrogenic diseases.
The orthodox view holds that HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)—one or more of an assemblage of now 26 diseases. Reinforcing this alleged fact in the public’s mind, the human immunodeficiency virus is no longer just called HIV, it is now “HIV/AIDS.”
A new development in HIV care, called preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), promotes universal coverage with antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV infections, based on the tenet that prevention is the best “treatment.” Given their unpleasant side effects, however, many people stop taking their antiretroviral drugs. An answer for that in the HIV/AIDS-care world is addressed by its P4P4P acronym (pay for performance for patients). With P4P4P, now under study, patients are given financial incentives to encourage them to keep taking the drugs. 
Could the hypothesis that the multi-billion-dollar HIV/AIDS medical-pharmaceutical establishment bases its actions on be wrong? In 1987, Peter Duesberg, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, who isolated the first cancer gene, and in 1970 mapped the genetic structure of retroviruses, published a paper in Cancer Research questioning the role of retroviruses in disease and the HIV/AIDS hypothesis in particular . Then, in 1988, he published one in Science titled “HIV is Not the Cause of AIDS.”  As a result, Dr. Duesberg became a pariah in the retroviral HIV/AIDS establishment, which branded him a “rebel” and a “maverick.” Colleague David Baltimore labeled him “irresponsible and pernicious,” and Robert Gallo declared his work to be “absolute and total nonsense.”
Skeptics of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis are chastised and subjected to ad hominem attacks. Anyone who questions this hypothesis is now branded an “AIDS denier,” which is analogous to being called a Holocaust denier. Nevertheless, non-orthodox scholars have been questioning the HIV/AIDS paradigm for thirty years; and now, in the 21st century, as Rebecca Culshaw puts it, “there is good evidence that the entire basis for this theory is wrong.” 
A key feature of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis is that the virus is sexually transmitted. But only 1 in 1,000 acts of unprotected intercourse transmits HIV, and only 1 in 275 Americans is HIV-positive! Drug-free prostitutes do not become HIV-positive, despite their occupation. [3,7]
HIV is said to cause immunodeficiency by killing T cell lymphocytes. But T cells grown in test tubes infected with HIV do not die. They thrive. And they produce large quantities of the virus that laboratories use to detect antibodies to HIV in a person’s blood. HIV infects less than 1 in every 500 T cells in the body and thus is hard to find. The HIV test detects antibodies to it, not the virus itself. For these and other reasons a growing body of evidence shows that the HIV theory of AIDS is untenable. 
A positive HIV test does not necessarily mean one is infected with this virus. Flu vaccines, hepatitis B vaccine, and tuberculosis are a few of the more than 70 things that can cause a false-positive HIV test. In healthy individuals, pregnancy and African ancestry conduce to testing HIV positive. In some people a positive test may simply indicate (without any virus) that one’s immune system has become damaged, from heavy recreational drug use, malnutrition, or some other reason. 
If HIV does not cause AIDS, then what does? The classic paper on AIDS causation, published in 2003 by Duesberg et al., implicates recreational drugs, anti-viral chemotherapy, and malnutrition. 
If the theory is wrong, how can it persist? In a review of The Origin, Persistence, and Failings of the HIV/AIDS Theory by Henry Bauer, the late Joel Kaufman writes:
“One of the most difficult things to write is a refutation of a massive fraud, especially a health fraud, in the face of research cartels, media control, and knowledge monopolies by financial powerhouses… The obstacles to dumping the dogma are clearly highlighted as Dr. Bauer discusses the near impossibility of having so many organizations recant, partly because of the record number of lawsuits that would arise.” 
Henry Bauer, professor emeritus of chemistry and science studies and former dean of the Virginia Tech College of Arts and Sciences, also presents a concisely reasoned refutation of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis in a 28-page online study, “The Case Against HIV,” with 51 pages of references—now 896 of them, which he continually updates. 
In a review of Harvey Bialy’s book, Review of Oncogenes, Aneuploidy, and AIDS: A Scientific Life and Times of Peter Duesberg, my colleague Gerald Pollack, professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington, writes:
“The book reminds us that although over $100 billion has been spent on AIDS research, not a single AIDS patient has been cured—a colossal failure with tragic consequences. It explains in too-clear terms the reasons why AIDS research focuses so single-mindedly on this lone hypothesis to the exclusion of all others: egos, prestige, and money. Mainstream virologists have assumed the power of the purse, and their self-interests (sometimes financial), propel them to suppress challenges. This is not an unusual story: challenges to mainstream views are consistently suppressed by mainstream scientists who have a stake in maintaining the status quo. It’s not just Semmelweis and Galileo, but is happening broadly in today’s scientific arena.” 
Adhering to the erroneous hypothesis that HIV causes AIDS, the U.S. government spends billions of dollars annually on HIV/AIDS programs and research—$29.7 Billion for fiscal year 2014. It is a waste of money. It fleeces taxpayers and enriches the HIV/AIDS medical establishment and the pharmaceutical companies that make antiretroviral drugs. The annual cost of HIV care averages $25,000-$30,000 per patient, of which 67-70 percent is spent on antiretroviral drugs. 
The tide is beginning to turn, as evidenced in the Sept 24, 2014, publication by Patricia Goodson of the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University. She notes that “the scientific establishment worldwide insistently refuses to re-examine the HIV-AIDS hypothesis,” even while it is becoming increasingly “more difficult to accept.” She writes:
“This paper represents a call to reflect upon our public health practice vis-à-vis HIV-AIDS… The debate between orthodox and unorthodox scientists comprises much more than an intellectual pursuit or a scientific skirmish: it is a matter of life-and-death. It is a matter of justice. Millions of lives, worldwide, have been and will be significantly affected by an HIV or AIDS diagnosis. If we – the public health work force – lose sight of the social justice implication and the magnitude of the effect, we lose ‘the very purpose of our mission.’” 
Despite its long-term, widespread acceptance, the HIV/AIDS hypothesis is proving to be a substantial fallacy of modern medicine.
- These Guidelines are available at: http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/lvguidelines/adultandadolescentgl.pdf . Accessed Dec 15, 2014.
- “10 Changes in HIV Care That Are Revolutionizing the Field,” John Bartlett (December 2, 2013) Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/814712 . Accessed Dec 15, 2014.
- The Case Against HIV, collated by Henry Bauer. Available at: http://thecaseagainsthiv.net/ . Accessed December 15, 2014
- Duesberg PH. Retroviruses as Carcinogens and Pathogens: Expectations and Reality. Cancer Research. 1987;47:1199-1220.
- Duesberg PH. HIV is Not the Cause of AIDS. 1988;241:514-517. Available at: http://www.duesberg.com/papers/ch2.html Accessed Dec 15, 2014.
- Culshaw R. Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books; 2007.
- Bauer H. The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, Jefferson, NC: McFarland; 2007.
- Duesberg PH. Inventing the AIDS Virus, Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing; 1996.
- Duesberg PH, Koehnlein C, Rasnick D. The Chemical Basis of the Various AIDS Epidemics: Recreational Drugs, Anti-viral Chemotherapy, and Malnutrition. J Biosci 2003;28:384-412. Available at: http://www.duesberg.com/papers/chemical-bases.html. Accessed Dec 15, 2014.
- Kauffman JM. Review of The Origin, Persistence, and Failings of the HIV/AIDS Theory, by Henry H. Bauer, Jefferson, NC, McFarland, 2007. J Am Phys Surg. 2007;12:121-122.
- Pollack G. Statement on HIV/AIDS at: http://www.aras.ab.ca/aidsquotes.htm Accessed Dec 15, 2014.
- Goodson P. Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent. Frontiers in Public Health. 2014; 2[Article 154]: 1-11. Available at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpubh.2014.00154/full . Accessed Dec 15, 2014.
Fluoridation, Americans are told, is necessary for the prevention of tooth decay. We must drink it and we must give our children fluoridated water in order for everyone to have a healthy smile — or so we have been advised for the last 60 years.
A whopping 43 studies have linked fluoride ingestion with a reduction in IQ. A study out of the Harvard School of public Health concluded, “children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas.”
Even more independent studies have linked the associated health risks of fluoride to interfering with the endocrine system and increasing the risk of impaired brain function; two studies in the last few months, for example, have linked fluoridation to ADHD and underactive thyroid.
Dozens more studies show the ineffectiveness of fluoride ingestion in preventing dental caries; they actually show an increase in dental fluorosis instead of a reduction in decay.
Approximately 1.2 grams of sodium fluoride will kill an adult human being. That was the low estimate that Dominic Smith ingested when he died from an overdose of fluoridated water at Hooper Bay, Alaska on May 23, 1992. Approximately 200 mg will kill a small child.
Approximately 72% of all water supplies in the United States have fluoride dumped into them
Most fluoride additives used in the United States are produced from phosphorite rock. Phosphorite is mainly used for manufacturing phosphate fertilizer. Phosphorite is refluxed (heated) with sulfuric acid to produce a phosphoric acid-gypsum (calcium sulfate-CaSO4) slurry.
The heating process releases hydrogen fluoride (HF) and silicon tetrafluoride (SiF4) gases, which are captured by vacuum evaporators. These gases are then condensed to a water-based solution of approximately 23% FSA.
Approximately 95% of FSA used for water fluoridation comes from this process. The remaining 5% of FSA is produced in manufacturing hydrogen fluoride or from the use of hydrogen fluoride to etch silicates and glasses when manufacturing solar panels and electronics.
In other words, instead of fertilizer and electronic companies paying to dispose of their wasteful byproducts in a responsible manner, they are given your tax dollars and this once toxic waste is magically transformed into a benefit for your teeth.
If the fact that fluoride lowers your IQ, is linked to ADHD, is an endocrine disrupter, is poisonous, is a hazardous bi-product of phosphate fertilizer production, and is being given to you without your consent, doesn’t get you riled up, then maybe the fact that the most highly regarded group of scientists in the world in assessing the effectiveness public health policies putting out a study showing that fluoridating the water supply “does not reduce cavities to a statistically significant degree in permanent teeth,” will help to change your mind.
“From the review, we’re unable to determine whether water fluoridation has an impact on caries levels in adults,” says study co-author Anne-Marie Glenny, a health science researcher at Manchester University in the United Kingdom.
According to Newsweek, the authors also found only two studies since 1975 that looked at the effectiveness of reducing cavities in baby teeth, and found fluoridation to have no statistically significant impact here, either.
“Frankly, this is pretty shocking,” says Thomas Zoeller, a scientist at UMass-Amherst uninvolved in the work. “This study does not support the use of fluoride in drinking water.” Trevor Sheldon concurred. Sheldon is the dean of the Hull York Medical School in the United Kingdom who led the advisory board that conducted a systematic review of water fluoridation in 2000, that came to similar conclusions as the Cochrane review. The lack of good evidence of effectiveness has shocked him. “I had assumed because of everything I’d heard that water fluoridation reduces cavities but I was completely amazed by the lack of evidence,” he says. “My prior view was completely reversed.”
There is no evidence supporting the purported benefits of fluoridating the water supply, but its use continues
This study is yet another blow to the unethical and immoral process of forcing individuals to consume a deadly product against their will.
The fact that fluoridation is still happening with the mounds of evidence against speaks to the incompetent nature of the state and the special interests lining their pockets in order to dump their toxic waste into the US water supply.
Even more upsetting, is the fact that when you tell people about the negative effects of consuming fluoride you are somehow labeled a conspiracy theorist; as if the mountain of evidence backing up your claims is non-existent.
Many people have no idea that their toothpaste has a poison warning!
They’ve ignored the Harvard study and the many like it, they’ve ignored the thousands of dental professionals who’ve come out against it, and they have ignored the unethical significance associated with mass medication without consent. Will the government and the naysayers finally come to their senses and stop ignoring this problem now that the Cochrane Collaboration, which is widely regarded as the gold standard of scientific rigor in assessing effectiveness of public health policies has confirmed that it’s pointless? We remain optimistic.
Glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, will finally undergo analysis for its effects on endangered species by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), thanks to the persistence of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).
The group has been trying for eight years to get the EPA to look at glyphosate, along with atrazine and two chemicals similar to atrazine: propazine and simazine. Glyphosate was found two months ago by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to be a probable human carcinogen and was banned for sale in garden centers in France earlier this month.
“This settlement will finally force the EPA to consider the impacts of glyphosate—widely known as Roundup—which is the most commonly used pesticide in the United States, on endangered species nationwide,” said Brett Hartl, CBD’s endangered species policy director. “With more than 300 million pounds of this stuff being dumped on our landscape each year, it’s hard to even fathom the damage it’s doing.”
Roundup appears to be responsible for the 90% drop in the number of monarch butterflies in the United States. The butterflies feed on milkweed, which has been just about eliminated because of Roundup use in fields near butterflies’ habitats.
Monsanto spokesman Robb Fraley said Roundup meets standards set by regulatory and health authorities. However, the EPA hasn’t ever taken a close look at glyphosate’s effect on endangered species.
Atrazine chemically castrates frogs and may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer, reproductive harm and birth defects in humans, according to CBD. “The EPA should have banned this years ago,” Hartl said. Up to 80 million pounds of atrazine are used each year in the United States on corn, sugarcane and sorghum, as well as lawns and golf courses.
The EPA’s agreement is only the beginning of a long, slow process. The agency has agreed to complete its assessments by 2020.
To Learn More:
Big Win for Environmentalists Will Force EPA to Study Glyphosate (by Elizabeth Warmerdam, Courthouse News Service )
Settlement: EPA to Analyze Impacts of World’s Two Most Widely Used Pesticides on 1,500 Endangered Species (Center for Biological Diversity)
UN Report Links California’s Favorite Herbicide, Monsanto’s Roundup, to Cancer (by Ken Broder, AllGov California )
EPA Sued over Not Protecting Decimated Monarch Butterflies from Monsanto (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Ken Broder, AllGov California )
EPA Approves Rise in Glyphosate Residue for Monsanto’s Herbicide (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov )
London, U.K. – An ancient Anglo-Saxon potion, used to treat eye infections in the 10th-century, has shown the potential to eradicate the modern MRSA superbug, according to research.
The ancient remedy was uncovered in the British Library in a leather-bound edition of what is considered one of the earliest known medical textbooks, Bald’s Leechbook.
The thousand-year-old volume, containing the “eyesalve” treatment, was translated by Christina Lee, an expert on Anglo-Saxon society at the University of Nottingham.
In a video posted to the universities website, Lee explains why this particular recipe was chosen from the book after being translated.
“We chose this recipe in Bald’s Leechbook because it contains ingredients such as garlic that are currently investigated by other researchers on their potential antibiotic effectiveness,” Lee said.
The recipe calls for two species of Allium (garlic and onion or leek), wine and oxgall (bile from a cow’s stomach) to be brewed in a brass vessel. The instructions in the book called for the potion to be left to stand for nine days before being strained through a cloth.
“And so we looked at a recipe that is fairly straightforward. It’s also a recipe where we are told it’s the ‘best of leechdoms’ — how could you not test that? So we were curious.”
Lee then looked towards the university’s microbiology department to test the efficacy of the formula, recruiting microbiologists to test and recreate the exact recipe described in the text.
“We recreated the recipe as faithfully as we could. The Bald gives very precise instructions for the ratio of different ingredients and for the way they should be combined before use, so we tried to follow that as closely as possible,” said microbiologist Freya Harrison, who led the research into the formula at the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences.
After closely following the instructions to recreate the exact recipe, researchers then began to test the formula on MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, cultures. MRSA is commonly referred to as a superbug, as antibiotic treatments are largely ineffective in treatment.
Not holding out much hope for the ancient potion, researchers were amazed by the results of their lab tests.
“What we found was very interesting — we found that Bald’s eyesalve is incredibly potent as an anti-Staphylococcal antibiotic in this context,” Harrison said.
“We were going from a mature, established population of a few billion cells, all stuck together in this highly protected biofilm coat, to really just a few thousand cells left alive. This is a massive, massive killing ability.”
The research team then asked its U.S. collaborators to test the formula using “in vivo,” a wound in live organism, and according to Steve Diggle, an associate professor of socio microbiology, who also worked on the project, “the big surprise was that it seems to be more effective than conventional antibiotic treatment.”
Any fears of the test being an anomaly were dissipated when three subsequent batches, each made from scratch, achieved the same results, according to Harrison.
The research team has replicated data showing that the medicine kills up to 90% of MRSA bacteria in “in vivo” wound biopsies from mice.
Scientists are not completely sure how the medicine works, but according to Harrison they have a few potential theories. There might be several active components in the mixture that work to attack the bacterial cells on different fronts, making it very hard for them to resist. Or, that by combining the ingredients and leaving them to steep in alcohol, a new, more potent bacteria-fighting molecule is potentially born in the process.
What is key to understand is that although people refer to the period of time this remedy was created in as the “Dark Ages,” ancient knowledge such as this cannot be discounted as holding extreme potential for the advancement of science and technology.
When we break out of the modern medicine paradigm, and realize there are numerous alternative treatments and therapies that have been used successfully for thousands of years, our potential opportunities for optimal health grow exponentially.
How many other amazing ancient cures have been lost to time and are simply waiting to be rediscovered such as this amazing potential medicine?
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.
According to a new study, the effects of sugary soft drinks are considerably worse than previously thought: they are directly responsible for 184,000 deaths every year. It is the first comprehensive study of the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on human health, and the results confirm what medical experts have suspected for decades.
Published in the latest volume of the American Heart Association’s Circulation journal, the research implicates sodas, sweetened iced teas, fruit drinks, and sports/energy drinks.
The study is entitled “Estimated Global, Regional, and National Disease Burdens Related to Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in 2010,” and it affirms that most of the deaths are from complications resulting from diabetes due to the consumption of “sugar-sweetened beverages” (SSBs).
The rest of the fatalities are due to cardiovascular disease and cancer, which are linked to 45,000 and 6,450 annual deaths, respectively.
The study’s author, Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University in Boston, says,
“There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.”
Further, the report states that economic disparity plays a factor, as 76% of the people who died between the years of 1980 and 2010 as a result of consuming sugary drinks lived in low-to-middle income countries.
Mozaffarian goes on to state that the research “indicate[s] the need for population-based efforts to reduce SSB consumption throughout the world through effective health policies and targeted interventions directed at stemming obesity-related disease.”
He conducted the study by comparing 62 dietary surveys from over 611,000 people in 51 countries over the course of 30 years. While the health effects of sodas, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages have long been suspected of dire health consequences, we now have definitive evidence that they are directly responsible for 184,000 deaths annually.
By Peter C Gøtzsche, Allan H Young, John Crace | British Medical Journal | May 15, 2015
We could stop almost all psychotropic drug use without deleterious effect, says Peter C Gøtzsche, questioning trial designs that underplay harms and overplay benefits. Allan H Young and John Crace disagree, arguing that evidence supports long term use.
Psychiatric drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world, as I show below.1 Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal.1 23 4 5 6
Summary of Article
Overstated benefits and understated deaths
The randomised trials that have been conducted do not properly evaluate the drugs’ effects. Almost all of them are biased because they included patients already taking another psychiatric drug.1 7 8 9 10 Patients, who after a short wash-out period are randomised to placebo, go “cold turkey” and often experience withdrawal symptoms. This design exaggerates the benefits of treatment and increases the harms in the placebo group, and it has driven patients taking placebo to suicide in trials in schizophrenia.8
Under-reporting of deaths in industry funded trials is another major flaw. Based on some of the randomised trials that were included in a meta-analysis of 100 000 patients by the US Food and Drug Administration, I have estimated that there are likely to have been 15 times more suicides among people taking antidepressants than reported by the FDA—for example, there were 14 suicides in 9956 patients in trials with fluoxetine and paroxetine, whereas the FDA had only five suicides in 52 960 patients, partly because the FDA only included events up to 24 hours after patients stopped taking the drug.1
For antipsychotics, I used a meta-analysis of placebo controlled trials in patients with dementia because they would be less likely to have been receiving psychiatric drugs before randomisation. The absolute death … Full article
Peter C Gøtzsche, professor, Nordic Cochrane Centre, Rigshospitalet, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark, Allan H Young, professor of mood disorders, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London, UK, John Crace, psychiatric patient and parliamentary sketch writer, Guardian, London, UK
Last year China installed more new wind and solar capacity than any country in history. This is a fact, and it has led some to talk of China being a “renewables powerhouse” and of there being a “renewables revolution”.
But out of context this fact can be much less impressive than it really is.
Let me put it into context using the most recent data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.
Over the last decade China’s primary energy consumption grew by 1398 million tonnes of equivalent (Mtoe). Though, if history is a guide this figure will eventually be revised upwards.
The annual average increase then was 140 Mtoe. For a comparison, Britain’s annual primary energy consumption was 188 Mtoe last year.
China’s growth rate was actually higher in the early 2010s, but has slowed recently (probably due to a worsening economic situation.
But that’s the context for judging the growth of wind and solar in China: 140 Mtoe of (mostly coal) energy added per year for the last decade.
How does China’s world leading wind and solar build out compare with this?
In total, China got 42.4 Mtoe from wind and solar in 2014. In other words, the total production of energy from wind and solar energy is less than one third of a year’s of growth in primary energy consumption.
When you look at annual growth things are even clearer. Wind and solar grew by 6.97 Mtoe last year. This is a mere 5% of the average total growth in primary energy.
There is no renewables revolution in China. So, as always, I recommend that people spend some time with data sources such as the BP Statistical Review of World Energy and less time reading pundits and the instant experts of Twitter.
US EPA’s 503 sludge rule (1993) allows treated sewage sludges, aka biosolids, to be land-applied to farms, forests, parks, school playgrounds, home gardens and other private and public lands. According to a recent EPA survey, biosolids contain a wide range of mutagenic and neurotoxic chemicals, which are present at a million-fold higher concentrations (ppm versus ppt) compared with their levels in polluted air and water (1). Biosolids contain all of the lipophilic (fat-soluble) chemical wastes that once polluted our rivers and lakes, but which now settle out at sewage treatment plants and become concentrated in sewage sludges. Most biosolids contain ppm concentrations of heavy metals, including chromium, lead, and mercury. They contain similarly high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and semi-volatiles, such as bis (2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate, Benzo(a)pyrene), and polybrominated diphenyl ether congeners (PBDE flame retardants). Most biosolids also contain pathogenic agents and ppm levels of many common drugs, including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro), and fluoxetine (Prozac).
While working at EPA Dr David Lewis published evidence that teenager Shayne Conner (of New Hampshire) died and other neighbors were harmed from living near land applied with sewage sludge (Lewis et al 2002). He furthermore became involved after dairy herds of two Georgia farms (McElmurray and Boyce) were poisoned after grazing on sludged land. He testified in lawsuits following each incident, against his employer (EPA), which is where many of the following depositions were obtained. The following article is an excerpt from Chapter 4 (Sludge Magic) of his new book (Science for Sale: How the US Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize Our Health, and Protect Corporate Profits). The lawsuits referred to are Lewis v. EPA 1999; Lewis v. EPA 2003; and USA, ex rel. Lewis, McElmurray and Boyce v. Walker et al. 2009. The depositions below piece together an unprecedented and coordinated multi-agency scientific scheme involving EPA, USDA, local and city municipalities, Synagro Technologies (a waste management company), various universities, and the National Academies of Science.
The effort was intended to misleadingly present sewage sludge as scientifically safe, to hide the evidence that it was not, to deliberately misreport the contents of municipal sludges, and smear David Lewis with a scientific misconduct charge after he blew the whistle.
From “Sludge Magic” by Dr David Lewis:
The Men Behind the Curtain
1) Alan Rubin – EPA
Alan Rubin, who was a career chemist at EPA’s Office of Water, is considered the primary author of EPA’s 503 sludge rule. He was one of a number of office scientists at EPA headquarters involved in retaliations against scientists and private citizens who reported adverse health effects associated with biosolids. Time magazine (September 27, 1999) ran a short article about Rubin mailing “death threats” on EPA and Water Environment Federation (WEF) letterhead to private citizens concerned about biosolids, saying, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee!”
When deposed in my U.S Department of Labor cases, Dr. Rubin explained what motivated these attacks:
RUBIN QUESTIONED BY ATTORNEY STEPHEN KOHN (1999) (2)
Q. Are you proud of the work you did?… Do you feel, in any
way, hurt or upset to have someone like Dr. Lewis criticizing
it?… Professionally hurt, a little?
Q. How so?…
A. Well, I think my professional reputation, to a large extent, is
based on my association with biosolids, 503 and its technical basis.
So I feel my reputation would be somewhat disparaged if the basis
of the rule, and the scientific findings were shown to be in error.
Rubin coined the term “sludge magic” when EPA’s proposed 503 sludge rule was undergoing internal peer review at EPA’s Office of Research & Development in 1992. Dr. Robert Swank, the research director at the EPA lab in Athens, Georgia, where I worked, called Dr. Rubin. When Swank asked him to explain how sewage sludge renders pollutants non-bioavailable, Rubin replied, “It’s magic.” During his deposition, Rubin deferred to USDA agronomist Rufus Chaney when questioned about scientific studies supporting sludge magic:
RUBIN QUESTIONED BY MR. KOHN (1999) (3)
Q. You called it sludge magic?
A. Yes, that is my term. “sludge magic” [means] there are unique
properties in the biosolids matrix that sequester metals, that
sequester organics. By sequester I mean significantly reduce the
mobility to move from the biosolids out to the environment,
and the matrix is really complex, and has organic material in
it, organic pollutants, I’m talking about organic materials, like
unit type materials, and carbohydrates, and manganese, and
iron, and phosphorus, and all of these work together with the
soil in a matrix to significantly reduce, if not eliminate movement
of pollutants from the biosolids out to the environment.
The processes, some of them are understood, some of them are not
that well understood, but the whole thing taken together is called
magic. So I coined the term magic.
Q. And the “sludge magic” which prevents harmful stuff that is
in the sludge escaping the sludge?
A. Moving at any significant flux or rate out to the environment
to create doses of pollutants that would harm plants, animals or
Q. … these studies [are] kept somewhere?
A. No, they are actually—well, Chaney is probably the one that
has them all, he is like a walking encyclopedia.
So, after working in EPA’s biosolids program for over thirty years, the primary author of EPA’s 503 sludge rule still couldn’t explain how biosolids prevent potentially harmful levels of pollutants from being taken up by plants, animals and humans.
2) Rufus Chaney-USDA
My attorney, Ed Hallman, deposed Dr. Rufus Chaney at USDA’s Animal Manure and By-Products Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. His position reflects the importance that the USDA places on protecting biosolids:
CHANEY ANSWERING MR. HALLMAN (2009) (4)
I’ve been appointed in a category which is above GS-18 called
senior scientific research service. Within that, there are no subgrades.
There is a group —there is only about ten of us in all of
my agency that have reached that level.… I would say I’m the
US Department of Agriculture’s most knowledgeable scientist
Chaney further testified that EPA scientists have never understood the science he developed, which proves heavy metals and toxic organic pollutants in biosolids cannot harm public health or the environment.
CHANEY ANSWERING MR. HALLMAN (2009) (5)
EPA withdrew the original proposed rule and completely
rewrote it. Actually I played a very significant role in what
the rule became. It’s evident in the record. And even at the
end I provided comments through USDA, approved at higher
levels, saying that the rule needed a few more revisions before
it was issued. But, yes, I was heavily involved in bringing to
fore the science about biosolids that needed to be the basis for
Chaney explained that the unique properties of sewage sludge prevent pollutants from becoming bioavailable. In other words, they can’t be taken up or absorbed by plants and animals’ and they pose little or no risk to public health or the environment no matter which pollutants are present, or what their concentrations are.
One of Rufus Chaney’s primary collaborators, Jay Scott Angle, replaced Gale Buchanan as the agricultural dean at University of Georgia (UGA) in 2005, the year we filed a qui tam lawsuit over “the Gaskin study” (Gaskin et al 2003)(6). After EPA funded this study, one of its employees, Robert Brobst, who is charged with investigating reports of biosolids-related adverse health effects, provided UGA with data fabricated by the City of Augusta, Georgia (see Figure 1.). This fabricated data was used in the Gaskin study which EPA then used to discredit any links between biosolids and cattle deaths on two Georgia dairy farms owned by local farmers, the McElmurray and Boyce families (4). President Bush appointed Buchanan under secretary of agriculture for research, education and economics the following year (7).
Two years earlier, the director of UGA’s School of Marine Programs was advised not to hire me as a faculty member “because we’re dependent on this money… grant and contract money… money either from possible future EPA grants or [from] connections there might be between the waste disposal community [and] members of faculty at the university.” (8)
Many wastewater treatment plants throughout the United States aren’t working properly, and are constantly in need of being repaired or upgraded to keep up with population growth. To help with this problem, EPA created a revolving loan program under the Clean Water Act to pump billions of dollars into the states to keep their wastewater treatments plants pumping properly. Chaney reasons that because the system as a whole is in constant need of repair, and there are still no documented cases of adverse health effects in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, “sludge magic,” as Rubin calls it, works even when waste treatment plants don’t.
Chaney further reasoned that any peer-reviewed scientific articles claiming that land application of biosolids poses a risk to public health or the environment must be false because no scientists funded by the US government and other reputable institutions have documented adverse effects from biosolids since the 503 sludge rule was passed in 1993.
In 1992, EPA’s sludge rule failed to pass a scientific peer review in EPA’s Office of Research & Development. Chaney blamed scientists in EPA’s Office of Water for this failure:
CHANEY ANSWERING MR. HALLMAN (2009) (9)
They originally proposed a rule where they even had the data
screwed up. I don’t know how much you know about that. But
the original rule would have essentially prohibited all land
application…. So there were lots of errors the first time around,
stupid errors. They didn’t—they didn’t review it with USDA or Food
and Drug Administration before they put it on the street and they
suffered and had to withdraw it and start over.
In his deposition, Chaney stated that adverse health effects from biosolids were documented in the scientific literature before 1992, and that he himself authored many of those studies.
CHANEY QUESTIONED BY MR. HALLMAN (2009) (10)
Q. And you believe that all the studies you’ve seen, including
the ones that you have coauthored and worked on, indicate that
the land application of sewage sludge in accordance with 503 is
safe… and is not a danger to human health and welfare, is that
correct, if it’s applied in accordance with those regulations?
A. I won’t disagree with that. I had advised EPA that I wanted
a lower cadmium limit…. I won the battle because pretreatment
and the universal understanding of the unacceptability of cadmium
in biosolids has led to biosolids declining to 1 to 2 ppm in
most cities in the United States. Biosolids has become remarkably
less contaminated because of what we’ve done with the 503 and
because of the publications, such as mine, which showed adverse
effects of previous practices.
The phenomenon by which biosolids have become far less contaminated with cadmium is clearly evident in the data that the City of Augusta reported to EPA and the State of Georgia. These are the same (Gaskin) data that EPA and UGA published and later used by the National Academy of Sciences to conclude that Augusta’s biosolids were not responsible for hundreds of cattle that died on two dairy farms (McElmurray and Boyce) where it was applied. The data purportedly show (Fig. 1 pdf here) that monthly cadmium levels in the city’s sewage sludge fluctuated wildly up to 1, 200 ppm from January 1980 to February 1993, the very month that EPA promulgated the 503 rule.
Chaney wants everyone to believe that cadmium, which was making people and animals sick, dropped to safe levels all across the country the moment EPA passed its sludge regulation in February 1993. No regulatory agency at the state or federal level, however, ever monitors levels of cadmium, or anything else, in biosolids (11). They simply accept whatever data the cities provide.
In Augusta’s case, we know that the city’s “sludge magic” was faked. The city’s former plant manager, Allen Saxon, confessed when deposed by Mr. Hallman.
Judge Anthony Alaimo, who ruled on a lawsuit against the USDA filed by the McElmurray family, ordered the USDA to pay for crops the family couldn’t plant because their land was too contaminated with cadmium and other hazardous wastes from Augusta’s biosolids. Judge Alaimo wrote, “In January 1999, the City rehired Saxon to create a record of sludge applications that did not exist previously.” (12)
That same year, EPA gave UGA a federal grant to publish Augusta’s data as part of the Gaskin study (Gaskin et al 2003). As soon as Mr. Saxon finished making “sludge magic” happen, all of the original data Augusta reported to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) between 1993 and 1999 magically disappeared, and not just in Augusta. They turned up missing from the EPD records in Atlanta as well. EPA doesn’t know what happened to the data, nor does the EPD, nor the City of Augusta, nor UGA. All of the data just magically disappeared from city and state records at the same time cadmium purportedly disappeared from Augusta’s sewage sludge.
According to Rufus Chaney, it just doesn’t matter whether the data are fake or real. He explained in his deposition: (13)
CHANEY QUESTIONED BY MR. HALLMAN (2009)
Q. Ms. Gaskin could have totally made up all that data and you
would still rely on it because it was in a peer-reviewed study; is
A As long as it—as long as it was in general agreement with
general patterns established in hundreds of papers….
To sum up Chaney’s position, because Gaskin’s paper concluded that Augusta’s sludge did not pose a health risk, it’s valid research even if the data were fabricated. On the other hand, people should disregard scientists who report problems with biosolids, even if their work is published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. That’s because researchers at universities funded by government and have published hundreds of papers concluding that biosolids don’t put public health or the environment at risk.
In 2004, Chaney commented on the US Composting Council’s (USCC’s) list serve about my termination by EPA acting assistant administrator Henry Longest, who developed EPA’s sludge policies in the late 1970s (14). USCC is headed by Lorrie Loder, Synagro’s product marketing director. Chaney, of course, supported Longest’s decision to end my career for publishing research that raised public concerns over biosolids (Lewis et al. 2002). He contrasted our BMC study with the Gaskin study:
CHANEY USCC (2004) (15)
The paper by Gaskin et al. [Gaskin, J. W., R. B. Brobst, W. P.
Miller, and E. W. Tollner. 2003. Long-term biosolids application
effects on metal concentrations in soil and bermudagrass
forage J. Env. Qual. 32:146-152.] reports objective measurements
on the soil metal concentrations, and metals in forages
growing on the soils….[Lewis’s] publication [Lewis D. L., D. K.
Gattie, M. E. Novak, S. Sanchez, and C. Pumphrey. 2002.
Interactions of pathogens and irritant chemicals in land-applied
sewage sludges (biosolids). BMC Public Health 2:11.] contains none
of the data from examination of biosolids exposed subjects, and lacks the
comparison with randomly selected individuals from the general
populations. It is not valid epidemiological science….
I support the whistle-blower rule and process as strongly as any
other citizen or government employee. I happen to believe that
Dr. Lewis has been treated fairly. Claims and opinions about
public health are not peer-reviewed scientific evidence. EPA and
other agencies have to base rules on the peer-reviewed papers,
and to consider the weight of evidence. Some papers are more
complete in proof of the issue tested, as I noted above regarding
proof that some source caused a specific human infection.
Our study published in BMC-Public Health had documented several cases linking Synagro’s biosolids to illnesses and deaths, including the death of Shayne Conner in New Hampshire (Lewis et al. 2002). Chaney’s statements about our study are drawn from a white paper Synagro published in 2001, which contains false allegations of research misconduct against me and my coauthors. In 2004, Synagro withdrew its allegations after EPA dismissed the allegations as meritless and not based in any facts (16). Synagro’s white paper, which Chaney parroted, states, for example:
SYNAGRO WHITE PAPER (2001) (17)
[Steps Lewis should have taken] include analysis of biosolids
composition, fate and transport of chemicals and pathogens,
determination of dose-response relationships, and methodology
for and identification of the cause of health ailments purportedly
associated with an environmental contaminant….
Such studies should involve a comparison of outcomes for subjects
who are exposed to biosolids (treatment groups) and other subjects
who are not exposed (control groups)…. The leading study,
a comprehensive multi-year study of Ohio farm families living
near land-applied fields, reported “no adverse health effects…in
either people or animals.” (Cit. 38.) While Dr. Lewis admitted
that this study was based on sound epidemiology, he refuses to
apply its techniques….
Our BMC paper does, in fact, contain this information. It includes, for example, data we obtained from the patients’ medical records, and a dose-response analysis of exposed and unexposed individuals in an area near a field treated with biosolids (Figure 2)(18). This field lay approximately 300 feet from a house where Shayne Conner suddenly died from respiratory failure. Conner’s parents, Tom and Joanne Marshall, sued Synagro, which bought out the company that applied the biosolids. EPA ethics officials approved of my serving as an expert witness for plaintiffs, and required that I donate any expert witness fees to EPA or other governmental or nonprofit organizations. By serving as an expert witness, I was able to obtain access to medical records and other critically important information tied up in Marshall v. Synagro.
In Conner’s neighborhood, we were able to gather information on symptoms from all but one family, including family members who reported no symptoms. We found:
LEWIS ET AL. BMC PUBLIC HEALTH (2002) (19)
Based on a least-squares analysis, proportions of individuals
with symptoms increased linearly from 40 to 80 h (r2 0.98) with
time exposed to wind blowing from the field; all occupants in
households with exposure ≥ 80 h reported symptoms (Fig. 2).
Proportions of individuals with symptoms also decreased linearly
with distance from the field from 130 to 320 m (r2 0.95); all
occupants in households living ≤ 130 m from the field reported
As reported in our BMC article, we mainly investigated the most common form of treated sewage sludges, called Class B biosolids:
LEWIS ET AL. BMC PUBLIC HEALTH (2002) (20)
County records indicated that biosolids-related complaints for
individual patients described in this study were concurrent with
land application of Class B biosolids.
As mentioned earlier, most bacterial populations that are killed back can re-establish themselves within a few days after biosolids are stockpiled, or spread on land (21). It’s like cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. Eating it fresh out of the oven is one thing, but after it’s been sitting out for a few days is a different matter. Biosolids are rich in proteins, which allow staphylococci to proliferate just as they do with turkey dinners (22).
We discovered that one out of four residents who reported irritation of the skin, eyes, or respiratory tract from exposure to biosolids had staphylococcal infections involving S. aureus or S. epidermitis. Two of the three deaths linked to biosolids were caused by S. aureus infections. Because multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria are common at wastewater treatment plants, biosolids-related infections are of particular concern (23).
During her depositions, Julia Gaskin testified that she believed Augusta’s biosolids harmed the McElmurray and Boyce dairy farms; and she pointed out that her study included ample data supporting the dairy farmers’ lawsuits.
GASKIN ANSWERING MR. HALLMAN (2009) (24)
A. Now, you have characterized that the EPA has used this
against them. There is certainly data in here that could have been
used to support them as well.
Q. What data?
A. The fact that we had high cadmium and molybdenum in three
fields that had been—and forages in three fields that had been
greater than six years. The fact we saw a reduction in copper and
molybdenum ratios with long-term biosolids application.
3) Thomas Burke – EPA
Responding to congressional hearings into EPA retaliations against me, my EPA laboratory director, and others who have questioned the science EPA uses to support its sludge rule, EPA called upon the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council (NRC) to reevaluate its scientific basis. Ellen Harrison, an NRC panel member from Cornell University, provided the panel with copies of my unpublished manuscripts and two in-press, peer-reviewed journal articles (BMC Public Health, 2002; ES&T, 2002) (25). Harrison, director of the Cornell Waste Management Institute, and her coauthors published a well-documented, peer-reviewed article concluding that EPA’s current sewage sludge regulation does not protect human health, agriculture, or the environment (26). She was also part of a group of NRC panel members selected to brief EPA on the academy’s findings when their report was electronically released on July 2, 2002. She testified in my labor case: (27)
HARRISON QUESTIONED BY MR. KOHN (2003)
Q. I’m looking for a larger-picture question here, what would
you state would be Dr. Lewis’ major contribution in terms of the
concerns he was raising to the National Academy review process?
A. David is the only scientist that to that time had raised the
scientific issues that might lead to exposure and disease and so
David’s ideas in that regard, I think, were important to sort of
framing the National Academy panel’s in recognizing that…
there are a lot of gaps here, there are plausible routes of exposures
that we haven’t assessed. So David’s role was—I mean
in my book David was a hero in this regard basically. Despite
the incredible flack he was getting, [he] put forward reasonable
scientific theories, backed by some research to suggest that
there were plausible routes of exposure and that in fact illness
might be resulting. He, I mean as far as I’m concerned, he kind
of turned the whole thing around… I think without David’s
involvement we wouldn’t be at all where we are today in terms
of looking at the safety issues anew. David raised-David gave a
legitimacy to the allegations that has made it impossible to ignore
the alleged health issues…. So I think David has probably been
the most important player in all this.
Although the report drew heavily upon my unpublished manuscripts, the electronic version only cited one paper, an ES&T article. Susan Martel, an NRC staff member, explained to Harrison that all but one reference to my work were removed from draft versions of the NRC report based on input from panel members. Then, according to Martel, the panel chair, Thomas Burke, removed the one remaining reference to my ES&T article from the final copy of the report, which is posted on the NRC’s website (28). Burke, who was Dean of Johns-Hopkins School of Public Health at the time, was recently appointed head of EPA’s Office of Research & Development by President Obama.
Burke removed the one remaining reference to our research after he and Martel received the following email from panel member Greg Kester, who was the biosolids coordinator for the State of Wisconsin: (29)
Hi Tom and Susan—In contrast to your message that the briefings
went well, I am quite disturbed by what I have heard transpired
at the EPA briefing this morning. Among other items, I
heard that EPA staff in the biosolids program were referred to
as “the usual suspects” and basically denigrated for their work in
the program. The message was also taken that their work should
be devalued and the work of David Lewis should be elevated. I
did not agree to such representation nor do I believe much of the
committee did. We specifically noted that EPA should not be criticized
for the work they did.… While EPA may not have been
moved by the criticism, there are those on the Hill who would
love nothing more than to criticize EPA.
One year earlier, Synagro VP Robert O’Dette had emailed Kester a copy of his white paper accusing me of research misconduct. Kester, in turn, forwarded it to senior officials at EPA headquarters and other EPA offices throughout the country (30). In his email, Kester stated: (31)
This paper presents many of the issues raised by Dr. Lewis in the
New Hampshire case and provides compelling refutation. It was written
by Bob O’Dette of Synagro.
The NRC panel used Synagro’s white paper in its deliberations over my research, and rewarded O’Dette by using a photo he submitted for the cover of the NRC report. Although the panel liberally borrowed from my unpublished and in-press papers without citing the source, it was careful to credit O’Dette as the source of its cover photo. Then, after removing my in- press, peer-reviewed articles documenting scores of cases of adverse health effects across the country, the NRC panel falsely reported: “There is no documented scientific evidence that the Part 503 rule has failed to protect public health.” (32)
But the fallout from what the NRC panel did wasn’t over yet. In 2008, a Nature reporter called me wanting my response to a federal judge, Anthony Alaimo, ruling that data in the Gaskin study were fabricated to cover up cattle deaths linked to hazardous wastes in Augusta’s sewage sludge. Nature, as it turned out, was putting together a two-page news article and editorial about our research at UGA, pointing out that a multi-university study in Ohio had independently confirmed our findings:
NATURE EDITORS (2008) (35)
In what can only be called an institutional failure spanning
more than three decades—and presidential administrations
of both parties—there has been no systematic monitoring programme
to test what is in the sludge. Nor has there been much
analysis of the potential health effects among local residents—
even though anecdotal evidence suggests ample cause for concern.
In fact, one of the studies used to refute potential dangers,
published in the Journal of Environmental Quality in 2003
by researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens, has been
called into question ….
Even the National Academy of Sciences seems to have been
taken in. A 2002 report from the academy cited the then unpublished
Georgia work as evidence that the EPA had investigated
and dismissed claims that sewage sludge had killed cattle, but
the study had not looked at the dairy farms in question. And
although it may be technically true that there was no documented
evidence of sludge applications causing human illness or death,
the academy also cited work by an EPA whistleblower, David
Lewis, suggesting at least an association between these factors.
If anything, recent research underscores those findings. The
Georgia citation notwithstanding, the academy did outline a
sound plan for moving forward. It recommended among other
things that the EPA improve its risk-analysis techniques; survey
the sludges for potential contaminants; begin tracking health
complaints; and conduct some epidemiological analyses to determine
whether these reports merit concern.
To read the NRC report, the Nature reporter located it on EPA’s website rather than the NRC’s website. After I filled the reporter in on what happened, Nature ran the following correction, which contained even more misinformation from the NRC in an attempt to explain why it removed the last remaining reference to our work in the final version of its report.
NATURE EDITORS (2008) (36)
Correction: The 2002 biosolids study from the National Academy
of Sciences (NAS) did not reference research into health impacts
by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whistleblower
David Lewis, as reported in our News story “Raking through
sludge exposes a stink” (Nature 453, 262–263; 2008). The citation
was included in a prepublication draft that is still posted on
the EPA’s internet site, but the NAS panel voted to remove the
reference before final publication. An NAS spokesman said the
panel decided the information was not relevant as the panel was
not charged with evaluating health impacts.
At least panel member Ellen Harrison got in the last word about the National Academy of Sciences removing the last remaining reference to our work:
HARRISON TO NATURE EDITORS (2008) (37)
The NAS made this change to the report without permission from
the panel. This is a violation of the NAS procedures requiring full
committee consensus on reports. I would not have approved the
removal of this reference since it was clearly relevant to the work
of the committee…. the unilateral action of NAS to remove the
reference was highly inappropriate.
4) Robert O’Dette – Synagro Technologies Inc.
EPA and Water Environment Federation (WEF) officials involved in the National Biosolids Public Acceptance Campaign systematically funded scientists who supported the 503 sludge rule while eliminating those who did not. In 2002, a Texas county commissioner invited me to speak at a public hearing about a growing number of illnesses linked to Synagro’s biosolids in his area. I agreed on the condition that he invite Synagro to have its own expert rebut my arguments. So, the commissioner wrote a letter to the company’s VP for government relations, Robert O’Dette, who had authored Synagro’s white paper containing allegations of research misconduct against me and my coauthors at UGA. In his reply, O’Dette explained how the system works: (38)
What we don’t need are more so-called scientists whose research
findings are predetermined by scientific or personal bias. These
people will find their work rightly discredited and their funding
will disappear while credible researchers continue to have
Synagro sent its own expert, Ian Pepper from the University of Arizona, to give a presentation at our conference, and it held its own conference across the street with others speaking on its behalf.
5) Tracy Mehan, III – EPA
On December 24, 2003, Tracy Mehan, Asst. Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, issued a letter in which he used the Gaskin study to dispel any link between biosolids and cattle deaths on the two dairy farms (39) Attorney Ed Hallman read Brobst’s testimony, then questioned Gaskin:
BROBST, GASKIN QUESTIONED BY MR. HALLMAN (2009) (40, 41)
We, the authors, at least Julia and I, will stand by that the study
had nothing to do with the dairy farms. I mean, we both said
that on several occasions, and I believe we will both stand by
that. And I have conveyed that to headquarters. If they choose to
not listen or choose to listen, that’s up to them. I don’t have any
say in how they make these paragraphs and how they form things
and form their conclusions. I wouldn’t have done it that way.
Q. Do you recall any conversations that you’ve had with
Mr. Brobst about the study had nothing to do with the Boyce
and McElmurray farms?
Q. Tell me the substance of those conversations.
A. I, the substance of the conversations were concerns that our
study was being used, that people were citing our study as if the
dairy farms were part of what we had sampled, and they were
not. And I had concerns about that, that even though the JEQ
article clearly said beef cattle farms, that some people were not
being clear about that fact.
Q. Did you ever voice those concerns to anyone besides
A. I voiced those concerns to Mr. Brobst and also at one point
Q. Who is that?
A. He is the director of the Northeast Biosolids Association.
Q. What did you tell him?
A. I told him that I was concerned that the JEQ article was
being conflated with the dairy and that our study did indicate
that there was not a widespread problem, but it did not specifically
address the dairy concerns.
5) Henry Longest, II – EPA
When Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich greeted me in his office overlooking the National Mall in 1996, he looked at me and said, “You know you’re going to be fired for this, don’t you?” “I know,” I replied, “I just hope to stay out of prison.” The speaker had just read my commentary in Nature, titled “EPA Science: Casualty of Election Politics.” It reflected the proverbial crossroads in my life. Since I was five years old, I wanted to become a scientist and have my own laboratory. Giving up my research career was not something I took lightly. It reflected my conclusion that EPA’s commitment to removing pollutants from water and concentrating them on land will eventually cause as much, if not more, harm to public health and the environment than these same pollutants caused in rivers and other aquatic systems. As soon as I turned age 55 in 2003, EPA’s Acting Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research & Development, Henry Longest, terminated me ─ the Agency’s only research scientist to ever publish first-authored research articles in Nature, Lancet and Nature Medicine. As acting deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water in the late 1970s, Longest was the first high-ranking EPA administrator to promote land application of sewage sludges.
Science for Sale: How the US Government Uses Powerful Corporations and Leading Universities to Support Government Policies, Silence Top Scientists, Jeopardize Our Health, and Protect Corporate Profits by David Lewis can be obtained here.
1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Biosolids: Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey Report —Overview, January 2009, EPA 822-R-08-014. http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/biosolids/tnsss-tech.pdf
2. US Dept. Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges. Case No.99- CAA-12, Deposition transcript of Dr. Alan Rubin, p. 149. Lewis v. EPA, Apr. 27, 1999.
3. Ibid, pp. 168-172.
4. USA, ex rel. Lewis, McElmurray and Boyce v. Walker et al. United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Athens Division. Case No. 3:06-CV-16-CDL. Deposition transcript of Dr. Rufus Chaney, Jun. 26, 2009.
6. Dendy LB, U. of Maryland administrator named dean of UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. University of Georgia, June 3, 2005.
7. University of Georgia, Bush taps former UGA dean for REE under secretary. Jan. 19, 2006.
8. Lewis v. EPA, U.S. Department of Labor, CA 2003-CAA-00005, 00006. Deposition of Robert E. Hodson, Ph.D. Jan. 31, 2003.
9. Ibid, USA, ex rel. Lewis,et al. R Chaney Deposition, p. 21.
10. Ibid, USA, ex rel. Lewis,et al. R Chaney Deposition, p.53-54.
11. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2002. Land Application of Biosolids Status Report; Report 2002-S-000004; Office of Inspector General. Washington, DC.
12. McElmurray v. United States Department of Agriculture, United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia. Case No. CV105-159. Order issued Feb. 25, 2008.
13. Ibid, USA, ex rel. Lewis,et al. R Chaney Deposition, p. 157.
14. Chaney R, USCC Listserve, October 5, 2004.
15. Ibid, USA, ex rel. Lewis,et al. R Chaney Deposition, p. 13-17.
16. Lewis v. EPA, U.S. Department of Labor, Case Nos. 2003-CAA-6, 2003-CAA-5, Joint stipulations, March 4, 2003; USEPA, Stancil F, Branch Chief, ESD, to Russo R, Director, ERD, Apr. 22, 2003; Thomas AL, Synagro, to Adams M, President, University of Georgia, Dec. 21, 2004.
17. Synagro Technologies, Inc. Analysis of David Lewis’ Theories Regarding Biosolids, p. 4, 6, Sept. 20, 2001.
18. Lewis DL, Gattie DK, Novak ME, Sanchez S, Pumphrey C. (2002) Interactions of pathogens and irritant chemicals in land-applied sewage sludges (biosolids). BMC Public Health 2:11. www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/2/11.
19. Ibid, Lewis et al., BMC-Public Health, 2001. Results, Environmental Assessment.
20. Ibid, Lewis et al., BMC-Public Health, 2001. Methods, Assessing environmental conditions.
21. Gattie DK and Lewis DL. 2004. A high-level disinfection standard for land-applied sewage sludge (biosolids). Environ. Health Perspect. 112:126-31.
22. Khuder S, Milz SA, Bisesi M, Vincent R, McNulty W, Czajkowski K. Health survey of residents living near farm fields permitted to receive biosolids. Arch. Environ. Occup. Health 62, 5–11 (2007).
23. Reinthaler FF, Posch J, Feierl G, Wüst G, Haas D, Ruckenbauer G, Mascher F, Marth E. Antibiotic resistance of E. coli in sewage and sludge. Water Res. 2003 Apr; 37(8):1685-90; Sahlström L, Rehbinder V, Albihn A, Aspan A, Bengtsson B. Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE) in Swedish sewage sludge. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 2009.
24. USA, ex rel. Lewis, McElmurray and Boyce v. Walker et al. United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Athens Division. Case No. 3:06-CV-16-CDL. Deposition transcript of J. Gaskin, p. 293-4, Jun. 20, 2009.
25. Martel S, National Academy of Sciences, to Harrison E, Mar. 27, 2002 [Email].
26. Harrison, EZ, McBride MB and Bouldin DR. Land application of sewage sludges: An appraisal of the US regulations. Int. J. Environ. and Pollution, Vol.11, No.1. 1-36. Case for Caution Revisited 2009.
27. Lewis v. EPA, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges, Case No. 98-CAA-13, Deposition of Ellen Harrison, p. 34-35, 76, Mar. 21, 2003.
28. Harrison E, Cornell Waste Management Institute, to Lewis D, Mar. 5, 2003 [Email].
30. Kester G to EPA officials Rubin A, Hais A, Roufael A, Carkuff A, Sajjad A, Bastian R, Brobst R, Sans C, Hamilton D, Hetherington D, Gross C, Lindsey A, Home J, Ryan J, Smith J, Colletti J, Dombrowski J, Dunn J, Walker J, Fondahl L, Dominy M, Meckes M, Murphy T. Subject: FW: Dr. David Lewis, 09/24/01 [Email].
32. National Research Council. Biosolids Applied to Land: Advancing Standards and Practice, Overarching Findings, p. 4. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 2002.
33. Burkhart J (NIH/NIEHS) to Lewis D, copied to Burleigh K (NIH/NIEHS), Subject: EHP ms 6207. May 07, 2003 [Email].
34. Ibid, Gattie, Lewis, 2004.
35. Stuck in the mud—The Environmental Protection Agency must gather data on the toxicity of spreading sewage sludge [Editorial]; Tollefson J. Raking through sludge exposes a stink. Nature, 2008, Vol. 453, p. 258, 262-3, May 15, 2008.
36. Nature editors. Correction. Nature 453; 577, May 28, 2008 doi:10.1038/453577d http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080528/full/453577d.html
37. Harrison E. Correspondence at Nature.com. June 17, 2008.
38. O’Dette R, Synagro Technologies, Inc., to Stavinoha TD, Commissioner Precinct 1, Fort Bend County, TX. Nov.18, 2002.
39. Mehan GT III. USEPA, Assistant Administrator, Office of Water, to Mendelson J III. Dec. 24, 2003 [Letter].
40. Ibid, Gaskin deposition p. 269, Jun. 22, 2009.
41. Ibid, Gaskin deposition p. 372-4, Jun. 22, 2009.
For more information go to the Bioscience Resource Project webpage on Sewage Sludge.
After a study of GMOs over a four-year plus period, India’s multi-party Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture recommended a ban on GM food crops stating they had no role in a country of small farmers. The Supreme Court appointed a technical expert committee (TEC), which recommended an indefinite moratorium on the field trials of GM crops until the government devised a proper regulatory and safety mechanism. As yet, no such mechanism exists, but open field trials are being given the go ahead. GMO crops approved for field trials include rice, maize, chickpea, sugarcane, and brinjal.
The only commercially grown genetically modified (GM) crop gown in India at this time is Bt cotton. It is hardly the resounding success story the pro-GMO lobby would like us to believe.
Pushpa M Bhargava is founder director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, India. Writing in the Hindustan Times, he states that
* Bt cotton is far from having been an unqualified success in India. It has worked only in irrigated areas and not in rain-fed regions that represent two-thirds of the area under cotton cultivation in the country.
* Out of over 270,000 farmers’ suicides, Bt cotton farmers constitute a substantial number.
* In Andhra Pradesh, there have been deaths of thousands of cattle that grazed on the remnants of Bt cotton plants after harvesting of cotton.
* Resistance to pests in Bt cotton has developed over the years. There has also been a marked increase in the number of secondary pests such as mealy bug.
* The soil where Bt cotton has been grown over a prolonged period has become incapable of sustaining any other crop.
* Some 90 percent of the member countries of the United Nations, including almost all countries of Europe, haven’t permitted GM crops or unlabelled GM food.
* There are over 500 research publications by scientists of indisputable integrity, who have no conflict of interest, that establish the harmful effects of GM crops on human, animal and plant health, and on the environment and biodiversity.
* On the other hand, virtually every paper supporting GM crops is by scientists who have a declared conflict of interest or whose credibility and integrity can be doubted.
* The argument that we need GM technology to feed the increasing population of India is fallacious. Even with low productivity, which can be increased, India even now produces sufficient grain in the country to take care of its requirements.
* India can double its food production by using non-GM technologies, such as molecular breeding.
* Few chronic toxicity tests have been done anywhere on GM food crops. Whenever these tests have been done, GM food has been shown to lead to cancer.
Back in 2003, after examining all aspects of GM crops, eminent scientists from various countries who formed the Independent Science Panel concluded:
“GM crops have failed to deliver the promised benefits and are posing escalating problems on the farm. Transgenic contamination is now widely acknowledged to be unavoidable, and hence there can be no co-existence of GM and non-GM agriculture. Most important of all, GM crops have not been proven safe. On the contrary, sufficient evidence has emerged to raise serious safety concerns that if ignored could result in irreversible damage to health and the environment. GM crops should be firmly rejected now.”
On a similar note, writing in The Statesman Bharat Dogra quotes Professor Susan Bardocz as saying:
“GM is the first irreversible technology in human history. When a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is released it is out of our control; we have no means to call it back….”
Dogra also notes that 17 distinguished scientists from Europe, USA, Canada and New Zealand wrote to the former Indian Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh warning against “the unique risks (of GM crops) to food security, farming systems and bio-safety impacts which are ultimately irreversible.” This letter adds:
“The GM transformation process is highly mutagenic leading to disruptions to host plant genetic structure and function, which in turn leads to disturbances in the biochemistry of the plant. This can lead to novel toxin and allergen production as well as reduced/altered nutrition quality.”
Writing in The Hindu, Aruna Rodrigues states that the consensus on the negative impacts of GMOs in various official reports in India is remarkable.
Yet India seems to be pressing ahead with a pro-GMO agenda regardless. Little surprise then that Bhargava argues that the Central Government departments in India act as peddlers of GM technology, probably in collusion with the transnational corporations which market GM seeds.
There is no ‘probably’ about it and the collusion goes beyond GMOs.
The World Bank/IMF/WTO’s goals on behalf of Big Agritech and the opening up of India to it are well documented. With the help of compliant politicians, transnational companies want farmers’ lands and unmitigated access to Indian markets. This would entail the wholesale ‘restructuring’ of Indian society under the bogus banner of ‘free trade’, which will lead (is leading) to the destruction of the livelihoods of hundreds of millions [see this, this and this].
Moreover, Monsanto, Walmart and other giant US corporations had a seat at the top table when the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture was agreed with the US. Monsanto also dominates the cotton industry in India and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes: it is the “contemporary East India Company.”
If further evidence were needed in terms of just who is setting the agenda, Vandana Shiva highlights the arm twisting that has gone on in an attempt to force through GMOs into India, with various politicians having been pushed aside until the dotted line for GMO open field testing approval was signed on.
And those like Shiva and Rodrigues who legitimately protest, resist or offer constructive alternatives are demonized by an Intelligence Bureau report whose authors might appear to some as having been sponsored by the very transnational corporations that are seeking to recast India in their own images.
Bhargava states that 64 percent of India’s population derives its sustenance from agriculture-related activities. Therefore, whosoever controls Indian agriculture would control the country. And here lies the crux of the matter. To control Indian agriculture, the bedrock of the country, one needs to control only seeds and agro-chemicals. Monsanto and its backers in the US State Department are well aware of this fact. And to control Indian politicians is to control India.
US foreign policy has almost always rested on the control of agriculture:
“American foreign policy has almost always been based on agricultural exports, not on industrial exports as people might think. It’s by agriculture and control of the food supply that American diplomacy has been able to control most of the Third World. The World Bank’s geopolitical lending strategy has been to turn countries into food deficit areas by convincing them to grow cash crops – plantation export crops – not to feed themselves with their own food crops.” – Professor Michael Hudson
US foreign policy is about power and control: the power to control food, states and entire populations.
Politicians in India and elsewhere continue to ignore the evidence pertaining to the dangers of GMOs. They are handmaidens of US corporate-geopolitical interests. The US relies on compliant politicians in foreign countries. These figures are just as important for furthering US goals in India as much as they are elsewhere.
One point struck me, reading Anthony’s fascinating account of his meeting with Bill McKibben. Bill, whose primary expertise is writing, appears to have an almost magical view of what computers can do.
Computers are amazing, remarkable, incredibly useful, but they are not magic. As an IT expert with over 25 years commercial experience, someone who has spent a significant part of almost every day of my life, since my mid teens, working on computer software, I’m going to share some of my insights into this most remarkable device – and I’m going to explain why my experience of computers makes me skeptical, of claims about the accuracy and efficacy of climate modelling.
First and foremost, computer models are deeply influenced by the assumptions of the software developer. Creating software is an artistic experience, it feels like embedding a piece of yourself into a machine. Your thoughts, your ideas, amplified by the power of a machine which is built to serve your needs – its a eerie sensation, feeling your intellectual reach unfold and expand with the help of a machine.
But this act of creation is also a restriction – it is very difficult to create software which produces a completely unexpected result. More than anything, software is a mirror of the creator’s opinions. It might help you to fill in a few details, but unless you deliberately and very skilfully set out to create a machine which can genuinely innovate, computers rarely produce surprises. They do what you tell them to do.
So when I see scientists or politicians claiming that their argument is valid because of the output of a computer model they created, it makes me cringe. To my expert ears, all they are saying is they embedded their opinion in a machine and it produced the answer they wanted it to produce. They might as well say they wrote their opinion into a MS Word document, and printed it – here is the proof see, its printed on a piece of paper…
My second thought, is that it is very easy to be captured by the illusion, that a reflection of yourself means something more than it does.
If people don’t understand the limitations of computers, if they don’t understand that what they are really seeing is a reflection of themselves, they can develop an inflated sense of the value the computer is adding to their efforts. I have seen this happen more than once in a corporate setting. The computer almost never disagrees with the researchers who create the software, or who commission someone else to write the software to the researcher’s specifications. If you always receive positive reinforcement for your views, its like being flattered – its very, very tempting to mistake flattery for genuine support. This is, in part, what I think has happened to climate researchers who rely on computers. The computers almost always tell them they are right – because they told the computers what to say. But its easy to forget, that all that positive reinforcement is just a reflection of their own opinions.
Bill McKibben is receiving assurances from people who are utterly confident that their theories are correct – but if my theory as to what has gone wrong is correct, the people delivering the assurances have been deceived by the ultimate echo chamber. Their computer simulations hardly ever deviate from their preconceived conclusions – because the output of their simulations is simply a reflection of their preconceived opinions.
One day, maybe one day soon, computers will supersede the boundaries we impose. Researchers like Kenneth Stanley, like Alex Wissner-Gross, are investing their significant intellectual efforts into finding ways to defeat the limitations software developers impose on their creations.
They will succeed. Even after 50 years, computer hardware capabilities are growing exponentially, doubling every 18 months, unlocking a geometric rise in computational power, power to conduct ever more ambitious attempts to create genuine artificial intelligence. The technological singularity – a prediction that computers will soon exceed human intelligence, and transform society in ways which are utterly beyond our current ability to comprehend – may only be a few decades away. In the coming years, we shall be dazzled with a series of ever more impressive technological marvels. Problems which seem insurmountable today – extending human longevity, creating robots which can perform ordinary household tasks, curing currently incurable diseases, maybe even creating a reliable climate model, will in the next few decades start to fall like skittles before the increasingly awesome computational power, and software development skills at our disposal.
But that day, that age of marvels, the age in which computers stop just being machines, and become our friends and partners, maybe even become part of us, through neural implants – perfect memory, instant command of any foreign language, immediately recall the name of anyone you talk to – that day has not yet dawned. For now, computers are just machines, they do what we tell them to do – nothing more. This is why I am deeply skeptical, about claims that computer models created by people who already think they know the answer, who have strong preconceptions about the outcome they want to see, can accurately model the climate.
A new paper published today by Science, from Thomas Karl and several co-authors, that removes the “hiatus” in global warming prompts many serious scientific questions.
The main claim by the authors that they have uncovered a significant recent warming trend is dubious. The significance level they report on their findings (.10) is hardly normative, and the use of it should prompt members of the scientific community to question the reasoning behind the use of such a lax standard.
In addition, the authors’ treatment of buoy sea-surface temperature (SST) data was guaranteed to create a warming trend. The data were adjusted upward by 0.12°C to make them “homogeneous” with the longer-running temperature records taken from engine intake channels in marine vessels.
As has been acknowledged by numerous scientists, the engine intake data are clearly contaminated by heat conduction from the structure, and as such, never intended for scientific use. On the other hand, environmental monitoring is the specific purpose of the buoys. Adjusting good data upward to match bad data seems questionable, and the fact that the buoy network becomes increasingly dense in the last two decades means that this adjustment must put a warming trend in the data.
The extension of high-latitude arctic land data over the Arctic Ocean is also questionable. Much of the Arctic Ocean is ice-covered even in high summer, meaning the surface temperature must remain near freezing. Extending land data out into the ocean will obviously induce substantially exaggerated temperatures.
Additionally, there exist multiple measures of bulk lower atmosphere temperature independent from surface measurements which indicate the existence of a “hiatus”. If the Karl et al., result were in fact robust, it could only mean that the disparity between surface and midtropospheric temperatures is even larger that previously noted.
Getting the vertical distribution of temperature wrong invalidates virtually every forecast of sensible weather made by a climate model, as much of that weather (including rainfall) is determined in large part by the vertical structure of the atmosphere.
Instead, it would seem more logical to seriously question the Karl et al. result in light of the fact that, compared to those bulk temperatures, it is an outlier, showing a recent warming trend that is not in line with these other global records.
And finally, even presuming all the adjustments applied by the authors ultimately prove to be accurate, the temperature trend reported during the “hiatus” period (1998-2014), remains significantly below (using Karl et al.’s measure of significance) the mean trend projected by the collection of climate models used in the most recent report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
It is important to recognize that the central issue of human-caused climate change is not a question of whether it is warming or not, but rather a question of how much. And to this relevant question, the answer has been, and remains, that the warming is taking place at a much slower rate than is being projected.
The distribution of trends of the projected global average surface temperature for the period 1998-2014 from 108 climate model runs used in the latest report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)(blue bars). The models were run with historical climate forcings through 2005 and extended to 2014 with the RCP4.5 emissions scenario. The surface temperature trend over the same period, as reported by Karl et al. (2015, is included in red. It falls at the 2.4th percentile of the model distribution and indicates a value that is (statistically) significantly below the model mean projection.
 Karl, T. R., et al., Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus. Scienceexpress, embargoed until 1400 EDT June 4, 2015.
 “It is also noteworthy that the new global trends are statistically significant and positive at the 0.10 significance level for 1998-2012…”
 Both the UAH and RSS satellite records are now in their 21st year without a significant trend, for example
[NOTE: An earlier version of this posting accidentally omitted the last two paragraphs before the graphic, they have been restored, and the error is mine – Anthony]