New Internationalist

Lost in translation

March 2006

A groundbreaking public health study by Chinese doctor Zhang Jian Dong in 1987 was used by US regulatory agencies as evidence that a form of the chemical chromium ‘might cause cancer.’ Ten years later, a ‘clarification and further analysis’ published under his name in a US medical journal said there was no cancer link to chromium. But, reports PR Watch, Dr Zhang didn’t write the clarification. It was ‘conceived, drafted, edited and submitted to medical journals by’ ChemRisk – a firm hired by PG&E, ‘a utility company being sued for alleged chromium pollution’ by California residents. ChemRisk was previously paid $7 million to help ‘save industry hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-up costs for chromium pollution in New Jersey.’ ChemRisk claims Dr Zhang signed off on the ‘clarification’, but records show the final version was not translated into Chinese for his review. Dr Zhang died in 1999, but his son said: ‘It’s impossible that he would have overthrown’ his earlier work linking chromium and cancer.

Read more at the PR Watch website – http://www.prwatch.org>

This column was published in the March 2006 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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