Author: Kaspar, Andrew
Date published: November 1, 2010
Journal code: TSTM
David Koch, the billionaire philanthropist who recently made headlines as a major financial backer of the Tea Party movement and other right-wing causes, personifies the conflicts of interests within the cancer establishment. Koch, who has given tens of millions to fund cancer research, sits on the advisory board of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the federal agency in charge of cancer research.
Along with his brother Charles, Koch owns nearly al/ of Koch Industries, a sprawling corporate empire with annual revenues estimated at $100 billion. Despite his substantial financial and personal involvement in cancer research, in August Jane Mayer reported in The New Yorker that Koch Industries has lobbied against the designation of formaldehyde as a carcinogen. When the private company bought Georgia-Pacific lumber in 2005, it became the producer of pressed wood products containing formaldehyde, such as the ubiquitous particle board. Mayer reported that Koch Industries has the capacity to produce 2.2 billion pounds of formaldehyde annually.
A study published last year by the NCI concluded that exposure to formaldehyde leads to higher rates of death from leukemia among workers exposed to the chemical.
Because of its prevalence in building materials and everyday household products, formaldehyde exposure is precisely the kind of environmental risk that the President's Cancer Panel says should be given greater consideration.
- ANDREW KASPAR
ANDREW KASPAR (2), an In These Times intern, is a student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.