Further evidence of wrongdoing by scientist financed by the asbestos industry

Wed, Dec 18, 2013


Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada

Scientist used his scientific article for pro-asbestos political purposes, ahead of its publication by scientific journal

Normally, scientific articles are made public when they are published by scientific journals.

David Bernstein, a scientist whose work is financed by the asbestos industry, does not, however, follow normal scientific procedure. Instead of independent science, Bernstein’s priority appears to be political lobbying to advance the interests of the asbestos industry.

Therefore, instead of Bernstein’s article, Health Risks of Chrysotile Revisited, being released by the scientific journal that was publishing it (Critical Reviews in Toxicology), Bernstein arranged for the article to be released – ahead of publication – in the political arena by a pro-asbestos politician.

On January 23, 2013, Roger Helmer, Member of the European Parliament, released Bernstein’s article at a European Parliament committee meeting in Strasbourg to support Helmer’s arguments against proposed legal amendments regarding asbestos related occupational health threats and prospects for abolishing all existing asbestos in Europe.

Helmer announced at the January 23 committee meeting that he had twenty copies of a new report that “is at this moment being published by Critical Reviews in Toxicology.” No one, at that point in time, had access to the article, except Bernstein, who arranged to give privileged, advance access to Helmer for political purposes.

Bernstein’s article, stated Helmer, shows that chrysotile asbestos presents no measurable risk to health. Chrysotile asbestos has been demonized, Helmer told the committee members. While other forms of asbestos are toxic, stated Helmer, chrysotile asbestos is not toxic at all. Helmer used the article to urge the committee members to vote against the proposed amendments and said he had brought twenty copies of the article for the committee members.

You can watch Helmer’s presentation to the European Parliament committee here:

Why Not All Forms of Asbestos Should Be Banned

How was it that a pro-asbestos politician had copies of the unpublished article while no one else did?


The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), which is financed by and represents the interests of the global asbestos industry, paid almost a quarter of a million dollars for the article, Health Risks of Chrysotile Revisited by David Bernstein and Jacques Dunnigan, both of whom have worked intimately with the asbestos industry for decades.

In January 25, 2013, Bernstein sent an email to Jean-Marc Leblond and Clément Godbout at the ICA, informing them that the article was now available on line. The ICA had paid the additional cost for Critical Reviews in Toxicology to make the article available on the internet.

January 25, 2013 was the first moment that the article was publicly available.

Subj: On-line & CD
Date: 1/25/2013 7:27:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: davidb@itox.ch
To: clgod@bell.net, jmarclebiond@2011ic8.com
CC: AIABJPigg@aol.com

Dear Jean Marc and Clement,

The publication is now on-line. The link is: http://informahealthcare.com/ eprint/6vsT3NGwu953mmKegdgS/full

In addition, I am sending today by DHL, 2 copies of the CD with the references for your subsequent distribution. The airbill is attached.

Best regards,



Bernstein, however, follows political events on behalf of the asbestos industry. He was thus aware that the politician, Roger Helmer, would be opposing a number of amendments regarding chrysotile asbestos that were going to be discussed at the January 23, 2013 EU meeting.

Bernstein therefore personally took special measures to provide Helmer with the proofs of the article ahead of it being published.

Friends often take special measures to help friends. Helmer is a political friend of the chrysotile asbestos industry. Bernstein therefore took special measures to assist Helmer in his political activity on January 23, political activity that served the interests of the asbestos industry.

Bernstein did not even need to be instructed by the ICA to provide this special service to Helmer. Bernstein did it on his own initiative, making use of his connections with pro-asbestos politicians, and then informed the ICA of what he had done, knowing how well pleased they would be with his lobbying services.

On January 24, 2013 Bernstein informed Godbout, Leblond and Bob Pigg of the ICA that “I have received this morning the author’s reprints for the publication. I have scanned a copy and am sending it attached.” January 24 was the first time that Bernstein had a copy of the article, as it would appear in Critical Reviews in Toxicology. What he sent Helmer was the proofs of the article prior to it having been finalized by the journal.

Bernstein also informed the ICA leaders, Godbout, Leblond and Pigg, on January 24 that: “our publication” (sic) was “already distributed in the European Commission”.

From: David Bernstein
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 7:08 AM
Cc: Jean-Marc Leblond; Bob Pigg
Subject: Re: Chrysotile references

Dear Clement,

Finally, if you have not seen this, our publication (sic) is already distributed in the European Commission.

httpllyoutu.be/nYJFC-jrC-A (NOTE: This link to Helmer’s presentation no longer works. See new link to above.)

Best regards,

David Bernstein


 Additional lobbying activities that Bernstein undertook, prior to the article even being published

Bernstein was extremely diligent in making use of the article to carry out lobbying activities at the EU and at the UN on behalf of the asbestos industry. On January 23, 2013, Bernstein wrote and informed the ICA that he had spoken with his contact at the UN Rotterdam Convention secretariat and had sent him “the ‘page proofs’ of the article” and CDs of the references. Bernstein recommended that the ICA wait until “the final published version is released (hopefully by the end of January)” before copying and distributing the article. Yet, so great was his zeal to serve the interests of the asbestos industry, Bernstein had already copied and distributed the ‘page proofs’ of the article for lobbying purposes in the EU and at the UN.


From: davidb@itox.ch
To: clgod@bell.net; jmarcleblond@2011ica.com
CC: AIABJPigg@aol.com
Subject: Fw: Chrysotile references
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 18:24:23 +0100

Dear Clement and Jean-Marc,

I have sent the CD of the references to Alexander Mangwiro of the Rotterdam Convention (see below).

I included about 180 references as PDFs and the the ‘page proofs’ of the new article.

I suggest that I wait to send you the CD for coping (sic) and distribution, until the final published version is released (hopefully by the end of January).

Best regards,


From: Alexander Mangwiro
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 4:00 PM
To: David Bernstein
Subject: Chrysotile references

Dear David,

I acknowledge receipt of two CDs that you posted to me.

Will go through them and consult senior managers and then give you feedback.

Thank you very much for your assistance.

Kind regards.


Alexander Mangwiro
Technical Assistance Branch
Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
United Nations Enviromnent Programme (UNEP)
11- 13 Chemin de Anemones
CH 1219 Chatelaine,
Tel: +41 229178458
Fax: +41 229178082
E-mail: amangwiro@pic.int
Web: http://www.basel.int I www.pic.int I www.pops.int 

The services Bernstein provided to the asbestos industry melded pro-asbestos scientific and political services. In his monthly bills to the ICA, Bernstein included both kinds of services. It is hard to distinguish one from the other.


Bernstein presented his article to the ICA while he was working on it.

On September 30, 2010, Bernstein submitted his invoice to Clément Godbout, the then president of the ICA, as he did every month:

“As agreed, I am sending you my invoice for the honorarium and expenses for the work requested during September 2010.”

The services Bernstein had rendered to the ICA that month included revising the article, Health Risks of Chrysotile Revisited, and preparation and presentation of the article to the ICA Executive Board meeting in Zurich on September 8, 2010.

Geneva, 30 September 2010

INVOICE : no. 009021 for Services rendered for the period of September 2010

* Revision and preparation of 5th & 6th draft reports in coordination with Jacques Dunnigan on the need to revisit the health risk assessment of chrysotile asbestos.

* Revision of letter invitation to co-authors and follow-up.

* Preparation & presentation at ICA Executive Board meeting, 8 September, Zurich.

3.5 days Honorarium (2,800 SF/day) 9,800.00 SF (Swiss Francs)

Expenses: (reprints, tel, etc.)200.00 SF

Travel Expenses (see attached itemization) 214.00SF

TOTAL 10,214.00 SF

It is noticeable that Bernstein and Dunnigan had completed six drafts of the article before even finalizing a letter to contact “co-authors”. One of the scientists, listed as a co-author of the article, testified that he had spent a total of about five to six hours reading the article.

On November 29, 2011, Bernstein presented the article yet another time to an ICA executive committee at its meeting in Dubai.

The ICA minutes report: “Members stated their satisfaction to this initiative and look forward to hearing Dr Bernstein’s presentation. The final report will be published and ICA members will then be in position to forward this positive information to the respective competent authorities in chrysotile producing and using countries.”

Ahead of its publication, the ICA executive committee knew as a certainty that Bernstein’s article would provide “positive information” that the asbestos industry could then use with “the respective competent authorities in chrysotile producing and using countries.”

What is wrong with this picture?

No independent scientist would behave with such compromising collusion with the asbestos industry lobby group. Let us imagine for one unthinkable moment that, at the Dubai ICA meeting, Bernstein chose not to provide “positive information” to the chrysotile asbestos industry that was financing him.

Clearly, the services that the ICA “requested” Bernstein to carry out each month and for which he billed them each month would instantly cease to be requested. The ICA, like all industry lobby groups, only requests and only pays for work that advances its interests.

Bernstein’s continuing financing by the asbestos lobby group depended on him providing them with “positive information” that served their interests.

Of course, as he has always done, Bernstein put forward, at the ICA executive meeting in Dubai, the “positive information” that the industry desired. The ICA minutes report how Bernstein stated that the objective of the article was “to review the full range of scientific studies and discuss how the epidemiological and toxicological data proves today a convergence in the understanding of the risk from chrysotile.”

Bernstein’s presentation of his article to the ICA executive in Dubai, and the final article, put forward a skewed, deceptive picture. According to Bernstein, the scientific data today prove that chrysotile asbestos does not pose a threat to health and can be safely used.

In fact, as the World Health Organization and reputable scientists, not financed by the asbestos industry, have overwhelmingly concluded, scientific data today confirm the opposite: that chrysotile asbestos poses a threat to health and that it is not possible to use it safely.

On November 30, 2011, Bernstein happily, and on his customary, friendly, first name basis, submitted his monthly invoice to the ICA, expressing his pleasure at working with the ICA and its president, Jean-Marc (Leblond).

Nov 30, 2011 to J-M Leblond:

Dear Jean-Marc,

It was a pleasure seeing you again and working with you and the ICA in Dubai.

As agreed, I am sending you my invoice for the honorarium and expenses for the work requested during November 2011.

With best regards,

Sincerely yours,


The ICA was likewise happy to pay his bill. So cosy is Bernstein’s relationship with the ICA that he seems to be an “honorary” member, if one can use that word in these circumstances.

Complaint submitted to Editor of scientific journal, Critical Reviews in Toxicology

Disturbing evidence has already been put forward of  ethical improprieties with regard to the conduct of Bernstein and Dunnigan.

A complaint has been submitted to Roger McClellan, Editor in Chief of Critical Reviews in Toxicology, to retract Bernstein’s article because of serious ethical improprieties on the part of Bernstein and Dunnigan. McClellan is clearly aware that Bernstein’s article is “of keen interest” to those opposing stricter regulations on asbestos in Europe and the USA. In an email of January 18, 2013, McClellan wrote:

“Please let Dr David Bernstein know when his latest publication in Critical Reviews in Toxicology will be available on line. If possible, please provide him an electronic link. With my encouragement he did purchase open access. He is understanable (sic) eager to have his own copy to down load and, also, be able to call the article to the attention of others. The subject of the paper – health risks of chrysotile is of keene (sic) interest to scientists and regulators in Europe and the USA.”

McClellan has to date not responded to the complaint submitted to him.

The fact that, in their Declaration of Interests for their article, Health Risks of Chrysotile Revisited, Bernstein and Dunnigan provided false information and covered up their lobbying role for the ICA, seems apparently to meet with the approval of the Editor in Chief of Critical Reviews in Toxicology.


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