What’s a bigger challenge: Good science or achieving good regulations?
Right now, it’s getting good regulations; we feel we have filled in most of the gaps in the science. We’re doing a lot of cutting-edge science trying to understand how cancer or tumors are caused in the mice. That’s really at the front of research. We have built a very strong case, but the regulators continue to be conservative or ignore the research. They’re not keeping up with the broader science in the community or hazard and risk assessments. We need to get their attention and press them to do a valid assessment of the data. If they come to significant conclusions, they need to explain how they place such concern on styrene when the data doesn’t show it.
Is their reaction specific to styrene?
I think there’s a general trend toward being conservative on all chemicals. To some degree, there’s an expanding anti-chemical and anti-plastics movement afoot. It’s not based on science or anything else; it’s just sort of a kneejerk reaction. In many cases, it’s a “don’t bother us with the facts, we know what we want to do” situation. They’re trying to find anything to justify it versus looking at what’s complete.
What makes your science legitimate?
We have been open as to how we approach this and how we put the new data out and seek outside validation We have gone out of our way to identify people and outside researchers we feel are the best in their field. We’ve done research in such areas as environment and neuro-toxicity. We have specific and stringent guidelines. There are good laboratory practices, or an international standard of how things should be conducted. We require that and in general, most of our research projects require the final report be submitted as a manuscript to an independent peer-reviewed scientific journal. We try to make our research as transparent as possible so if anyone is wondering if it’s just industry doing more research, they need to really sit down and look at it.
Do you get accusations of “industry-influenced” data often?
We still do, especially because SIRC is sponsored, so they will dismiss it outright as not being valid data. So we point that no, the data was peer-reviewed and published. These people did not need to publish it, but they did. The researchers can reach different conclusions than what we might hope.