Elizabeth Whelan

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Elizabeth Whelan was president and co-founder of the industry-friendly American Council on Science and Health. However the ACSH was actually created by Paul F Oreffice the CEO of Dow Chemicals USA, using funding of $75,000 paid through a money laundry service provided by the Rollin M Gerstacker Foundation from the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers' Association (SOCMA). Oreffice also created the American Industrial Health Council (AIHC) and was involved in setting up the corporate-friendly American Enterprise Institute (AEI) at about the same time.

Whelan was the choice of Frederick J Stare (her old Professor) who ran the Nutrition Department at Harvard University like a private food- and tobacco-industry lobby shop. Stare was nominally the 'co-founder' of the ACSH, and he provided front-services and money-laundering for the tobacco industry on the side. Whelan, however, was an anti-smoker, and she used attacks on the tobacco industry as a way to deflect attention away from the problems being caused by a lax chemical industry and a food-industry which wanted to keep using dangerous levels of pesticides and herbicides.

Eventually the Center for Science in the Public Interest managed to trace the funding of the ACSH and they published Voodoo Science, Twisted Consumerism : The Golden Assurances of the American Council on Science and Health, CSPI, Washington, D .C . 1982

American Council on Safety & Health (ACSH)
American Industrial Health Council (AIHC)
American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
Dow Chemical USA and Paul F Oreffice
Chemical Manufacture's Association (CMA)
Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association
Frederick J Stare, Debra A Mayer
Center for Science in the Public Interest (exposé)


She was previously known as Elizabeth Murphy. Later she began using the name 'Elizabeth M Whelan.


Dr. Whelan does not have a medical degree. Her degrees are:[1]

  • 1967: MPH Yale University School of Medicine
  • 1968: M.S. Harvard School of Public Health
  • 1971: Sc.D Harvard School of Public Health (under Stare in Nutrition Department)

Whelan stayed with the Department of Nutrition of the Harvard School of Public Health, after 1971, as an Honorary Research Associate. This means that she was supported entirely by external grants, most from large food corporations or trade associations. (citation needed) Stare had plenty of contacts with companies like Kellogs, and also with the sugar industry. He was known among Harvard students as a vocal defender of sugar in diets.

In April 1973, she "accepted a freelance writing assignment from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer: they wanted a background paper on the Delaney Clause (aka Delaney Amendment) which was an early rule which blocked any substance, known to be carcinogenic, from being in any foodstuffs in measurable amounts. The Reagan Administration put pressure on the FDA to relax this standard against the advice of the vast majority of health scientists and academics -- but favoured at many forums and conferences by food industry consultants.

In 1975 Whelan and Stare began a long and highly profitable partnership - jointly writing a number of books and running a syndicated radio program, "Healthline". (citation needed) [2]

"That brief, isolated, assignment prompted me (on my own time, at my own expense) to write a book on the history of food scares: Panic in the Pantry." She asked her colleague - food, chemical and pharmacy industry-funded Dr. Frederick Stare - to write the preface; he became co-author, and the book was published in 1976.


Other affiliations

Whelan and AIHC

In October 1977, Elizabeth Whelan was working on scientific public relations for the Chemical Manufacturers Association while still retaining her position at Harvard. She worked for CMA's offshoot, SOCMA (Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association), and the CEO and President of Dow Chemical, Paul E. Oreffice, President of she began a new subsidiary organisation called the American Industrial Health Council (AIHC). This organisation coordinated chemical industry responses to government regulations, and promoted a series of industry-devised criteria for regulating potentially cancerous materials in the environment.

These early scientific-manipulation activities of the chemical industry were part of an organised reaction to Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" published in 1962. The Chemical Manufacturer's Association (CMA) quickly realised that it must organise science and lobbying efforts; it had to discredit scientific research and attack the environmental activists if it were to maintain profits and keep free of government oversight and regulation.

For many years, most of the CMA's propaganda and lobbying was conducted through PR firm E. Bruce Harrison (later taken over by Hill and Knowlton and run by Matt Swetonic), but gradually the AIHC and ACSH took over and played a very important part, especially with the gullible media.

Also at this time, the chemical industry and the tobacco industry were trying to blame each other for the rapid increase in the rate of cancers. So the strategy adopted by the SOCMA and the AIHC was to blame tobacco smoke (correctly) as the major cause of lung cancer in smokers and non-smokers, while attempting to exonerate (incorrectly) environmental products like asbestos, preservatives and pesticides. Whelan was judged to be highly successful in her political lobbying, and the tobacco industry loathed her because she was deflecting all blame for chemically induced cancer rates to the more visible problem of smoking. [1] In June 1987, Bill Murray CEO of Philip Morris, in his final Operation Downunder report, uses "Elizabeth Waylen for the chemical industry" as an example of the type of ally they need. [2]

Whelan soon made herself a name as "consumer advocate" on radio and in the TV by vigorously attacking smoking and the tobacco industry. Very soon she was a television celebrity who was toasted by activist groups opposed to smoking. It was the perfect camouflage. Stare, by contrast, tended to keep his head down when she attacked the tobacco industry.

From 1973, she and Stare had been partners in a number of enterprises, and she cannot have been unaware of his close connections to Seltzer and the tobacco industry, or his mentoring of tobacco scientists and his deals with chemical and food companies. Some of her Harvard School of Public Health associates worked virtually full time for the tobacco industry and appeared in public enquiries on behalf of the industry.

American Council on Science and Health

When in mid 1978, Whelan and Stare supposedly 'founded' the American Council on Science and Health, Whelan took the front position as "Executive Director" and Stare assuming the role of Deputy. Whelan's husband Steven provided the legal backup through his law firm, Thacher, Proffitt and Wood.

A number of professional science-lobbyists were coopted to form an "Advisory Council" for ACSH (they, presumably, were able to use their connections financially). Many more genuine, but gullible, scientists from around the world were suckered into joining as members by signing a "motherhood statement" about the need for "sound science". ACSH was funded by the same corporations which supported Stare's Nutrition Department for so many years -- and over time it became the model for Steve Milloy's notorious TASSC ("The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition") "scientific grassroots organisation" which differed only in the fact that it included tobacco lobbying, while being supported by the same corporate funders from chemicals and food industries. (Philip Morris had bought Kraft/General Foods and RJ Reynolds Tobacco had bought Nabisco).

Nader on ACSH

Almost the only group which did not accept ACSH as a genuine "association of concerned scientist" was Ralph Nader's Center for Science in the Public Interest which branded it "a consumer fraud" and an industry front group. They exposed the fact that its Advisory Board has many industry lobbyists, and that its reports were loaded with errors. However, the media generally ignored these warnings and treated ACSH as a genuine scientific grassroots organisation (until recently).

ACSH and Alar

Whelan and ACSH's reputation was made (and finances assured) mainly by her successful propaganda win over the activists in the Alar scare (a hormone sprayed on Apples). This campaign was funded $25,000 p.a. by Uniroyal (the manufacturer of Alar) and by most of the other SOCMA members, including Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and Union Carbide, who made large contributions. Then in 1990 the apple and chemical industries filed a libel lawsuit against the activists over publicising Alar's dangers, and lost the suit. The court concluded that the scientific case against Alar was justified. Uniroyal itself later admitted the chemical was dangerous and voluntarily took it off the US market (but continued to sell it elsewhere).


Whelan is the author or co-author of over two dozen books mainly devoted to supporting the food and chemical industry by promoting the idea that fears about additives, colourings, and preservatives are the result of media sensationalism which has generated "cancerphobia":

  • Panic in the Pantry
  • Preventing Cancer
  • Toxic Terror
  • A Smoking Gun - How the Tobacco Industry Gets Away with Murder


American Council on Science and Health
1995 Broadway
Suite 202
New York, NY 10023-5882

Phone: (212) 362-7044
Fax: (212) 362-4919

E-mail: acsh at acsh.org

External links

Articles by Whelan

General Articles

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Elizabeth Whelan. ExxonSecrets. Retrieved on 2010-01-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Elizabeth Whelan (2004-04-29). Where Did ACSH Come From?. American Council on Science and Health. Retrieved on 2010-01-12. “A 25th Anniversary Commentary from Dr. Elizabeth Whelan President, Co-Founder American Council on Science and Health”
  3. Advisory Board, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, accessed September 19, 2008.
  4. Board of Advisors. National Youth Rights Association. Retrieved on 2010-01-12.

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