International Agency for Research on Cancer asked to respond regarding ethical concerns

Sat, Feb 9, 2013


On December 13, 2012, Dr. Richard Lemen and a number of scientists and civil society organisations sent an urgent letter to Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), expressing concern that IARC (an agency of the World Health Organization) is collaborating with scientists, institutes and events that promote continued use of asbestos. The scientists and civil society organisations made a number of specific requests to IARC, calling for it to cease its collaboration with longtime promoters of  asbestos. They stated: “We urgently await your response to these grave concerns regarding IARC’s reputation and integrity.”

Below is a letter from Dr. Lemen, asking IARC to respond.

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February 8, 2013

Dear Dr. Wild,

I am sending this email to remind you of a letter I and other concerned scientists and interested parties sent to you on December 13, 2012. I know you realize as Director of IARC, as do I, as a Former United Steates Assistant Surgeon General, that integrity and credibility are at the heart of a scientific research organization. Our letter raises concerns about such issues at IARC.

In my former positions with the United States Government anytime concerns about integrity and credibility were raised concerning our scientific research they took the highest priority for resolution. It is exactly for these reasons I write to ask your immediate attention be given the concerns we raised in our letter to you. The proclamations your agency make, based on the research it conducts, effects the public health of millions of people in our World. As the principle cancer research agency, of the World Health Organization, IARC has a inviolable responsibility to assure it operates with the highest degree of credibility and integrity.

I ask again that you address the concerns we have raised and provide a response to our letter of December 13, 2012. You alone, as Director of IARC, have the responsibility to assure IARC remains above reproach and continues to lead the world in cancer prevention through its research and resulting public health proclamations. I have attached our letter to this email for your reference.

I look forward to your rapid reply.


Richard A. Lemen, MSPH, Ph.D, MSPH; Assistant Surgeon General (Ret.); Rear Admiral, USPHS (Ret.)



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