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Dr. David Lewis at AutismOne: An Insider’s View of Scientific Integrity in a State of Crisis
On Friday, May 23, Dr. David Lewis delivered a powerful talk entitled: Science For Sale: How the U.S. Government Controls Science to Support its Policies. Dr. Lewis is an internationally recognized research microbiologist, formerly with the EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Now retired from government service, Dr. Lewis has written of his research and the ensuing change in policies at the EPA and other federal agencies in the last 30 years that have led to a mass exodus of microbiologists, engineers, and scientists from government agencies. Dr. Lewis has chronicled this in his newly released 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 Profit.
Dr. Lewis was the only EPA scientist to be lead author on papers published in Lancet, Nature, and Nature Medicine. He spent the majority of his career looking at environmental and public health issues ranging from soil contaminated by sludge from water treatment plants to pathogens in dental instruments. More recently, Nature covered his investigation of false allegations of research misconduct against Dr. Andrew Wakefield, which were published by Brian Deer and the British Medical Journal.
Dr. Lewis points out that many books have been written on corporate influence on scientific and academic integrity. However, he states that corporate influence is just a subset of a much larger problem – the government’s own agenda and policies which dictate and even predetermine research outcomes. Advocates have observed this phenomenon time and again in the government’s study of autism causation. Government-sponsored scientists have focused on genetic and environmental factors linked to autism and chronic disease while publishing studies with flawed statistical analyses and other deceptive tactics to obscure any connections with vaccines recommended by the CDC.
Who is Causing Viral Epidemics? Consumers or the Medical Industry Designed to Protect Us?
During the hour-long presentation, Dr. Lewis related examples of his public health research published in Lancet and other leading science journals, which shed new light on the causes of viral epidemics in the United States. In the 1990’s Dr. Lewis made the discovery at the University of Georgia that the AIDS virus, as well as other viral infections such as Hepatitis C, could be transmitted via dental equipment. His research also found a similar pattern of potential contamination in the patient matter left behind on flexible endoscopes commonly used for colorectal cancer screening.
Lewis’ research later published in Lancet and Nature Medicine on the transmission or viruses via hand-held drills and prophylaxis angles commonly used for drilling and polishing teeth led to the current recommendation of heat-sterilization of these devices after every patient for standard dentistry worldwide. Unfortunately, Dr. Lewis states today, probably less than half of all dental practices follow those guidelines. What you learn will shock you – as well as provide you with questions to ask your dentist and endoscopist about heat sterilization of dental drills and endoscopes.
An Important Hidden Source of Environmental Heavy Metal Exposure: Consumers Deceived by the Government Agencies Designed to Protect Us?
After pointing out that EPA was created in 1970 after chemical wastes in the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio caught fire, Dr. Lewis posed the question – has anyone wondered where all the heavy metal and chemical pollutants ended up after the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts were passed? Instead of allowing the contaminants to follow their course by making their way through the river systems to be eventually diluted out in the oceans, sewage treatment plants were built in every city across America to capture heavy metals and other chemical pollutants. Now, they are processed into "biosolids" for disposal on public and private lands, including everything from farms and highway medians to school playgrounds. They're also sold as organic fertilizer in unmarked bags at a Home Depot and other garden centers for growing vegetables and flower gardens.
In the 1970’s, one would have to live near chemical plants and other industrial operations to be exposed to high (ppm) levels of thousands of toxic chemical pollutants known to trigger neurological damage, compromise the immune system, and cause other adverse health effects. Today, we are all exposed to toxic sewage sludges, which cities are now adding to mulch and spreading of local farms as "biosolids" and "organic residuals."
Who is protecting the citizens of the United States from neurological disorders and chronic disease? It is certainly not EPA and the USDA – which are working with polluters to fund researchers willing to manipulate studies to support government policies and industry practices.
The Price of Truth, Justice and Integrity
What price does a scientist pay for speaking his/her truth when his data does not support government policy? There were many prominent speakers at AutismOne who paid dearly but who still fight for truth, justice and integrity that consumers worldwide deserve.
Prior to the publication of his book, Science for Sale, Dr. Lewis wrote of his experience for Skyhorse Publishing Company. A highlight of his story is below and reprinted with permission.
In 1996, Speaker Newt Gingrich greeted Dr. David Lewis in his office overlooking the National Mall, and he looked at Dr. Lewis and said: “You know you’re going to be fired for this, don’t you?” “I know,” Dr. Lewis replied, “I just hope to stay out of prison.”
Gingrich had just read Dr. Lewis’s commentary in Nature, titled “EPA Science: Casualty of Election Politics.” Three years later, and thirty years after Dr. Lewis began working at EPA, he was back in Washington to receive a Science Achievement Award from EPA Administrator Carol Browner for his second article in Nature. By then, EPA had transferred Dr. Lewis to the University of Georgia to await termination of the Agency’s only scientist to ever be lead author on papers published in Nature and Lancet.
Dr. Lewis states: “The government hires scientists to support its policies; industry hires them to support its business; and universities hire them to bring in grants that are handed out to support government policies and industry practices. Organizations dealing with scientific integrity are designed only to weed out those who commit fraud behind the backs of the institutions where they work. The greatest threat of all is the purposeful corruption of the scientific enterprise by the institutions themselves. The science they create is often only an illusion, designed to deceive; and the scientists they destroy to protect that illusion are often our best.”
Investigating Institutional Research Misconduct
Dr. Lewis currently has a research project at the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington D.C. investigating cases where the government targets scientists producing and publishing data deemed not in the government’s best interest.
Allegations of research misconduct in the Andrew Wakefield case caught Dr. Lewis’s attention because he had never before seen a scientific or medical journal launch an attack on a scientist’s credibility. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) accused Dr. Wakefield of ‘research misconduct’ over the publication of a 1998 study linking the onset of regressive autism to the MMR vaccine. The BMJ was aided by a then unknown journalist named Brian Deer who aimed to discredit Dr. Wakefield.
What Dr. Lewis found during his investigation points to research misconduct on the part of the UK’s General Medical Council and not Dr. Wakefield. You can read more about his investigation and government, industry and even universities’ efforts to divert science from the noble pursuit of truth in EPA Microbiologist Dr. David Lewis Wrote the Book on Research Misconduct - Then Throws the Book at Brian Deer.
Note: Dr. David Lewis and Dr. Andrew Wakefield were interviewed on the topic of autism and vaccines on Gary Null’s radio show, Monday, June 9 at 7pm ET. Link to the archived interview is here: http://ow.ly/xQg7Z