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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.

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  • How Industry Influences Food, Water Policy -- To Public's Detriment
    Posted by Kathy Attar

    Is the food that you eat safe?  What about the water you drink?  This month’s Environmental Health Policy Institute reveals the complex ways that food and chemical industries influence our ability to protect the purity of the public’s food and water supplies. Articles look at how industry applies pressure to the Food and Drug Administration’s review process for reviewing food additives; how the Environmental Protection Agency has been pressured not to strengthen its standard for arsenic levels in drinking water; and industry’s role in obscuring the science on the multiple connections between sugar and health.

    The results spell danger for all of us.  Most new chemicals added to food are not subject to a protective safety standard and get on the market with little or no data on their safety or health implications.  Even when Environmental Protection Agency scientists conclude that a chemical is harmful, they face enormous hurdles to having the chemical regulated.  And sound science is repressed or denied when legislation is considered. These examples of our flawed regulatory system for food and water sound eerily familiar to the current process we have under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates -- or doesn’t -- most chemicals on the market today. 

    A common thread that runs through all these articles is the role played by scientists who are paid industry spokespeople.  The articles suggest that they seem to play all too willingly the tune that their masters pay them to play.


    Sugar-Coating Science: How the Food Industry Obscures Sugar’s Impact on our Health
    Christina Carlson

    Arsenic in Your Drinking Water: How the Chemical Industry Influences Public Health Policy
    David Heath

    Dinner with a Side of Financial Conflicts of Interest
    Thomas G. Neltner and Maricel V. Maffini, PhD

    The views expressed in these essays are those of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Physicians for Social Responsibility.