Captured by Corporations

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What happens when government regulators seem more concerned with protecting the profits of the corporations that they’re supposed to be regulating than in protecting our health or the environment? We hear from two journalists who follow what happens when politics and corporate interests trump science at EPA and FDA. And CEH Executive Director Michael Green tells about the role CEH played in California’s review of hexavalent chromium, the chemical made famous by the movie Erin Brockovich.

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David Heath is a veteran investigative reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, where he writes about the environment and scientific integrity. We spoke to David about his recent report on the failure of the Obama EPA to conduct chemical safety reviews, and also about the “Exposed” database uncovering the chemical industry’s secret history. His work has appeared on PBS Frontline, PBS NewsHour, the CBS Evening News, Mother Jones, the Huffington Post, and Scientific American. His work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times and he was an Emmy Award nominee for his work with Frontline on corporate dentistry. He’s won five national journalism awards since coming to the Center in 2010, including awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Association of Health Care Journalists and the National Press Club.

Charles Seife is a science journalist and professor of journalism at the New York University School of Journalism. We spoke to Charles about his recent piece for Slate, “Are Your Medications Safe.” Prior to NYU, Professor Seife was writer for Science magazine -specializing in physics and mathematics- and had been a U.S. correspondent for New Scientist. His work has appeared in The Economist, Scientific American, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other publications. He is also the author of Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (2000), which won the 2000 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, and numerous other books, including his latest, 2011’s Proofiness: How You’re Being Fooled by the Numbers.

The two-parts of the PBS Newshour/Center for Public Integrity story on hexavalent chromium pollution of drinking water in Hinckley, CA and beyond are here and here. You can see J. Pete Myers’ presentation on the science around bisphenol A (BPA), and Bruce Lanphear’s video, Little Things Matter.  Also see the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver piece on drug company marketing.

Music and more from the show include Roy Zimmerman’s “Creation Science 101,” “Blinded by Science” by Thomas Dolby, and “she’s a witch” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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