Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Attaran Update

The Mark has picked up my story, which I am most proud of, on the connections among Iggy, Amir Attaran, a fierce critic of the government's Afghan policy, tobacco scientist Roger Bate, and the tobacco industry front group Africa Fighting Malaria.

A few things have happened since that piece written. For one thing, Attaran has denied receiving tobacco industry funding at the Carr Center (although not, clearly, from AFM). For another thing, I have been in touch with Adam Sarvana, whose work I quoted from extensively in the previous post, and he has expressed the opinion that Attaran is "principled" but was unfortunately taken in by Roger Bate's and the AFM's "Rachel Carson/Environmentalists have murdered millions of third-worlders" line.

So the working assumption must be that Attaran is unaware of the AFM, and Bate's, dubious pedigree. Nevertheless, the AFM is what it is: an tobacco industry front group. And it is certainly interesting that this letter from Attaran on the dangers of phasing out DDT use too quickly should wind up in the files of British American Tobacco.

Finally, this is the full-text of Roger Bate's letter to Philip Morris in which he outlines the aims and purpose of his anti-malaria "operation", which eventually became the AFM.


Ti-Guy said...

You left out the part from your draft, where you compared Bate's slick personality to the greasiness and sweatiness of that spiv, Marc Morano. That was my favourite bit!

I don't know what to make of this. At some point, a lot of this just strikes me as a game of "degrees removed from Kevin Bacon." I know that when I was younger and doing contract research work, I don't think I'd have ever given a moment's thought about where the funding was coming from other than knowing about the funding agency itself. But then, that was before the complex and sophisticated nature of corporate interference in the shaping of public opinion was as widely known (or indeed knowable) as it is today.

Your concluding advice for Iggy is timely, although I still have a hard time believing he, at his age and with his experience, can be as politically naive as he so very often is.

bigcitylib said...

The Mark pulled that line for some reason. They also let me use "bullshit" once, but cut it the 2nds time.