Your article about the disappearance of the W. Alton Jones Foundation [News, “Lost Foundation,” 3/28/02] comments on my book, Our Stolen Future, "The research on which the book was based couldn't be replicated, thus forcing Science magazine to repudiate an earlier article and retract the findings."
That Science article is only one of many indicating that chemicals interact synergistically when present in mixtures; it was unique because of the magnitude of the reported effect. The fact that this one scientific result out of many could not be replicated neither invalidates the widely established conclusion that synergy in chemical mixtures occurs, nor repudiates the basic premise of our book.
As for [Philanthropy Roundtable writer Ron] Bailey’s assertion about “public embarrassment,” his conclusion will surprise the thousand-plus scientists in universities and scientific organizations around the world who are engaged in scientific research on questions raised in the book. It will puzzle the editors of scientific journals who have published, since the book's appearance in 1996, literally hundreds of scientific papers that have confirmed the legitimacy of the issues identified by Our Stolen Future and advanced scientific understanding of endocrine disruption.
Virtually every issue of the scientific journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences contains research that moved this science further, and in April the National Academy of Sciences is publishing a report demonstrating dramatic endocrine impacts of extremely low level exposure to atrazine, the world’s most heavily used herbicide.
Bailey's assertion will surprise the diplomats representing 141 nations who in May 2001 signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a United Nations treaty designed to reduce exposures to some chemicals described in Our Stolen Future. Indeed, the book was cited regularly by delegates and leadership who participated in the negotiation process, to which I was repeatedly invited over a two-year period to provide scientific briefings for delegates. That hardly sounds like “embarrassment.” Even the Bush Administration signed the treaty and has indicated it will support Senate ratification.
And Bailey’s claim will puzzle readers of reports from the US National Academy of Sciences and its British counterpart, The Royal Society, whose assessments of endocrine disruption concluded that the concerns raised were plausible but that insufficient scientific evidence was available to determine the real magnitude of the human health threat— precisely the message of Our Stolen Future. The Royal Society went further to recommend that, because of the risks, protective measures be implemented now, rather than waiting for scientific certainty.
John Peterson Myers, Ph.D.