Manufacturing Uncertainty

There is a growing concern that occupational- and environmental-health research is in crisis. With funding for this type of research a low priority at government agencies, researchers have had to turn to industry for information and money. "Critics of industry-sponsored research argue that even the most forthright agreements between researcher and industry carry risks of bias in results or interpretation that benefit the sponsors," the Chronicle of Higher Education writes. "Even under the best of circumstances, there's some understanding that future funding depends at least in part on the results you find this time," Anthony Robbins, a professor of public health and family medicine at Tufts University and a former director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, told the Chronicle. But industry's influence doesn't stop at funding issues. "Industry has found it worthwhile to challenge all of the studies that suggest there might be a link between some exposure and some kind of disease or illness," Robbins told the Chronicle. "Industry is in the business of manufacturing uncertainty."