If we regulate now we can prove later that the regulation was needed.
Let’s try to square this statement:
He acknowledged that it was impossible to specify just how many cancers were environmentally caused, because not enough research had been done, but he said he was confident that when the research was done, it would confirm the panel’s assertion that the problem had been grossly underestimated.
“He” is Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall Jr. of Howard University, the chair of the President’s Cancer Panel (umm, why is there a “President’s Cancer Panel?), who published a report that all of the chemicals in th country are the leading cause of cancer. The solution the panel came up with is to take a “precautionary” approach to regulating chemicals in the country, even though it cannot prove that the chemicals and its pollutants causes cancer. When the American Cancer Society, not an exactly conservative leaning group, says that the government is overreacting, then you know that the government is clearly just looking for ways to expand its power. Here is the Dr. Michael Thun from the American Cancer Society:
Unfortunately, the perspective of the report is unbalanced by its implication that pollution is the major cause of cancer, and by its dismissal of cancer prevention efforts aimed at the major known causes of cancer (tobacco, obesity, alcohol, infections, hormones, sunlight) as “focussed narrowly.”
The report is most provocative when it restates hypotheses as if they were established facts. For example, its conclusion that “the true burden of environmentally (i.e. pollution) induced cancer has been grossly underestimated” does not represent scientific consensus. Rather, it reflects one side of a scientific debate that has continued for almost 30 years.
There is no doubt that environmental pollution is critically important to the health of humans and the planet. However, it would be unfortunate if the effect of this report were to trivialize the importance of other modifiable risk factors that, at present, offer the greatest opportunity in preventing cancer.
In other words, the purpose of this report is not so much to inform on the causes of cancer and how to fight the disease, but to show that “chemicals” cause cancers in Americans and call for more regulations that will not have anything to do with curing cancer, but instead will just expand the government’s power into sectors that it has no business controlling.
This should surprise people on two fronts: 1) if the government is proactively regulating things without concrete proof then there is no limit to what the government will want to regulate and 2) being precautionary in regulating means that we will no longer have a free society where people are free to make their own decisions about things that affect them. For an administration that said it will place science back in its “rightful place” it sure seems as though the administration is subscribing to its ideology to regulate as much as possible and let others worry about the fallout.
More on that Times story here.