Nee, dit nieuwtje gaat niet over aanvallende muizen van je PC. We hebben het hier over de overwaardering van rattenexperimenten in laboratoria die als proefdieren fungeren voor de bepaling van de carcinogeniteit van bepaalde stoffen voor de mens.
In een artikel in de Washington Post gaat Elizabeth Whelan, president van het Amerikaanse Council on Science and Health in op de angsten die onnodig door conclusies op basis van dierproeven worden gecreeerd.
Rodents are an insidious health threat — but I am not talking about disease-carrying vermin. I am talking about rodents in our nation’s most prestigious research laboratories. These animals, through no fault of their own, have been scaring us to death for 50 years while restricting our pursuit of an improved standard of living and longer, healthier lives.
A thicket of current federal and state laws and regulations (including Superfund, Proposition 65 in California, and Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration regulation of pesticides and food additives) assume a rodent is a little man. Such laws substantially disrupt our nation’s economic productivity (including diminishing our food supply) by banning any chemical that at high doses causes cancer in animals. This hasty practice poses a threat not only to our quality of life but also to our very lives and health.
Perhaps you remember some specific examples of government’s attempts to ban useful chemicals (like the sweeteners cyclamate and saccharin) because at high dose they cause cancer in rats. Probably you recall the great Alar-apple panic of 1989 when actress-turned-toxicologist Meryl Streep and an activist environmental group (with the EPA’s blessing) told us apples presented an “intolerable risk” of cancer in children because they were treated with Alar, which at high doses caused cancer in rodents. More recently, you may remember self-appointed consumer groups argued french fries were a cancer risk because frying high-starch foods produces a chemical called acrylamide, another rodent carcinogen.
But what you might not know is that the rodent-is-a-little-man premise now has spawned unprecedented increases in environmental regulation (purportedly to protect us from cancer) and has contributed substantially to the cost of most goods and services, insurance premiums, legal fees and federal taxes while reducing job opportunities and incentives for innovation. All this without offering any known public health benefit whatsoever.
For example, the so-called Delaney Clause, passed by Congress in 1958, requires the FDA to ban food additives causing cancer at any dose in any lab animal no matter how negligible the risk or what benefits might be lost. The EPA labels useful industrial and agricultural chemicals as “probable human carcinogens” — subjecting them to regulatory extinction — on the basis of just one high-dose rodent study. The result: safe and useful pesticides are being banned, depriving farmers of tools to keep our food supply plentiful. Similarly, environmental activists have long pushed to ban chlorine, a critical treatment to ensure water safety, because it is a rodent carcinogen.