The National Institutes of Health will give an in-person briefing to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform after questions raised by lawmaker Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz accuses the NIH of funding the IARC, an agency he said has created unnecessary controversy on certain foods that the IARC describes as cancerogenic.
Jason Chaffetz is Chairman of the Oversight Committee, and he severely criticized the International Agency for Research on Cancer for its constant announcement on different foods being a factor that causes cancer. The NIH has to speak before the committee to answer why U.S. taxpayers are funding the alarming IARC if it is a semi-autonomous institute of the World Health Organization.
Chaffetz expressed his concerns regarding the way IARC reviews and classifies substances dangerous to human health. The IARC has recently said that coffee, mobile phones, processed meat, and the weed killer glyphosate cause cancer. And the chairman thinks the institute is causing unnecessary health scares.
“IARC’s standards and determinations for classifying substances as carcinogenic, and therefore cancer-causing, appear inconsistent with other scientific research, and have generated much controversy and alarm,” Chaffetz wrote.
Thus, Chaffetz wants the NIH to explain why an international based institute -that in his view only creates panic- is receiving U.S. funding when the IARC has a $33 billion annual budget.
Critics, including industry and Chairman Chaffetz, say the International Agency for Research on Cancer is sometimes too quick to conclude that particular substances are a risk for human health, making people scared of what they eat. The IARC defends that their findings are scientifically based.
The controversy began on September 26 when Chaffetz sent a letter to NIH director Francis Collin accusing the IARC of controversy, retractions, and inconsistencies. The chairman also asked why the NIH continues to fund the agency if it has a decent budget.
The hearing of the National Institutes of Health officials before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be in private. Both the Institute and the Committee are working to schedule the briefings as soon as possible. A date for the event has not been announced yet.
The National Institutes of Health stand on Chaffetz letter and the damage it could cause to cut U.S. funding to IARC
The NIH confirmed that it received the letter and stated it would respond directly to the committee and not to Chaffetz; Reuters reports the NIH told them in an email.
A spokesperson from IARC said that Chaffetz’s letter has misconceptions that have been addressed to NIH director by IARC’s director, Chris Wild, reports Reuters. Regarding the chairman’s comments about IARC, Wild stated in a letter sent October 5 that Chaffetz’s criticism is misplaced.
Wild defended IARC’s classifications are “widely respected for their scientific rigor, standardized and transparent process and… freedom from conflict of interests.” Wild’s letter was also sent to Reuters.
The polemic of the NIH funding IARC’s puts the international agency’s budget at risk.