26 Jun The Four Dog Defense
Reference: Bijlsma, N. (2018). Healthy Home, Healthy Family. (3rd ed). ACES. Melbourne
“A society that does not protect its children doesn’t have a future”.
Most people don’t realise that the industry doing the harm is also often the one setting the standards and that many of the products they buy in stores have probably never been tested to determine their impact on human beings. The pharmaceutical, telecommunications, agricultural and chemical industry frequently introduce new technologies and products that have never been tested for their impact on human health. When one chemical is found to be toxic, it is frequently replaced with another chemical that maybe more toxic, Bisphenol-A and Bisphenol-S being one such example. Furthermore, companies frequently employ scientists who cherry pick data, and fail to publish studies that may impact their bottom line. They chant “there’s no evidence of harm” because the burden of proof is not on them to prove their products or technologies are safe, whilst simultaneously they obtain licenses from government regulators so they can legally pollute our air, water, soil and poison every living creature on this planet in the name of “progress”. Consequently the history of medicine is littered with numerous examples of missed opportunities, wasted resources and counter-productive policies due to the inability to act on available evidence. In 1857, the father of epidemiology Dr John Snow demonstrated that ‘contagions’ in water were responsible for the cholera epidemic; in 1956, Dr Alice Stewart proved that one foetal x-ray doubled the incidence of childhood leukaemia; and in 1950, Dr Richard Doll published his findings correlating smoking with lung cancer. All of these clinicians were ostracised by their peers, the industry and the medical establishment at the time of their findings, and it took decades for their work to be validated. These are just some of the many environmental health hazards like lead dust, mercury, asbestos, benzene, organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls that have had devastating consequences on human health.
The FOUR DOG DEFENSE explains the delay tactics employed by industry to keep their products in the marketplace:
- My dog doesn’t bite. Industry denies their product is harmful and actively discredit any study or researcher that says otherwise. Industry responds by chanting “more research is needed” because they know the delay means billions of dollars in revenue the longer the product is on the market. Common methods employed by industry to keep their products on the market is to discredit animal studies on the basis that it doesn’t reflect humans (but cite animal studies when it suits them as evidence that their product is safe), and insist that researchers provide the exact mechanism by which the hazard induces harm before action is taken like they did with cigarette smoking and asbestos.
- My dog bites, but it didn’t bite you. Industry concedes that their product may be harmful when the evidence becomes too great to deny, but don’t worry, the average person is not exposed. Corporations strategically use ‘bad’ science to validate and justify their actions and convince regulatory authorities, the media and the courts to delay action. To achieve this, they spend millions of dollars on public relations campaigns, or establish not-for-profit companies or scientific advisory boards that appear to be independent and unbiased, that involve ‘industry scientists’ who are skilled at manipulating the data.
- My dog bit you, but it didn’t hurt you. Industry admits people are exposed, but aren’t harmed by the product because the exposure is within the ‘exposure standards’ even though they are not health based standards, and they were developed in consultation with industry to determine what is ‘practicable’ in a workplace environment. Furthermore, these exposure standards fail to account for multiple routes of exposure, mixture effects, transgenerational effects or individual human risk factors.
- My dog bit you and it hurt you but it wasn’t my fault, it’s yours. Industry shifts the blame onto the consumer because they warned them about the dangers of their own product. Examples include the photos of diseases on cigarette packets, and the warnings embedded in cell phones (if you can find them). How can you enforce ‘personal responsibility’ and shift the blame onto the consumer when they don’t have the knowledge to make an informed decision or the financial resources to do anything about it?