BY KATHLEEN RUFF
THE asbestos industry will be holding a conference in New Delhi, India, on December 3 and 4 to promote use of asbestos in India. The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), an organization financed by the asbestos industry and which promotes the industry’s interests, is organizing the conference.
The ICA has now put on its website a list of its speakers and summaries of their pro-asbestos presentations.
The purpose of the conference and of the ICA is to promote continued use of chrysotile asbestos, particularly in India, the biggest importer of asbestos in the world. Scientists and health experts around the world have condemned the asbestos industry and its allies for disseminating deadly, deceptive misinformation that will cause disease and loss of life.
Many of the speakers have been paid by the asbestos industry for years to take part in activities and events to promote use of chrysotile asbestos, particularly in developing countries. They form a small, notorious group of asbestos industry allies.
David Bernstein, for example, has received millions of dollars from asbestos lobby organizations for research on rats which, according to Bernstein, shows that rats positively enjoy being exposed to chrysotile asbestos. A New York court recently concluded that a number of scientific articles published by Bernstein were not, in reality, independent science, but were controlled by the asbestos industry and constituted potential crime-fraud. Dr. Bagatin’s research has been financed by the asbestos industry in Brazil. Dr. Dunnigan is a former employee of the Chrysotile Institute, an asbestos lobby organisation in Canada. In 2012, Dr. Bernstein, Dr. Dunnigan, Dr. Bagatin and Dr. Hesterberg were all witnesses in front of the Supreme Court of Brazil to argue on behalf of the Brazilian asbestos lobby against a proposed ban on asbestos.
Dr. Kashansky is an employee of a Russian government institution and, not surprisingly, he promotes the position of his employer, the government of Russia. Russia is by far the biggest producer and exporter of asbestos in the world and the Russian government is determined to do whatever is necessary to protect the profits it makes by exporting vast amounts of asbestos. If Dr. Kashansky spoke up and opposed the Russian government’s pro-asbestos position, he would be committing career suicide or worse. Not a single scientist in Russia has dared to oppose their government’s pro-asbestos position.
The pro-asbestos views put forward by these scientists are rejected by independent scientists as having no credibility. Not a single reputable scientific body in the world supports their position.
But they are very popular with the asbestos industry, which has money to pay them to show up again and again at asbestos industry events, such as the one in India, to help sell asbestos or to defeat proposed bans on asbestos.
While the asbestos industry has money to defend its financial interest, those who will be harmed, as a result, and who will die painful, unnecessary deaths from asbestos-related diseases, have no money to defend their interest, which is life itself.