SPEECH OF PETER BARRY CHOWKA
TO THE OTA (1990)
From The Cancer Chronicles #5
© July 1990 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
PETER BARRY CHOWKA is an investigative journalist and video photographer
whose work appears in a variety of national publications.
Thank you for these five minutes, during which five Americans will die
of cancer. The daily toll exceeds 1400; over half a million this year.
Most will die despite receiving the benefits of conventional therapies.
Paralleling the incessant rise in cancer incidence and mortality is
the increase in spending. Around one trillion dollars has been spent on
conventional cancer research and treatment since the cancer war began
The only victory now in sight is one of public relations over the reality
that has become a medical Viet Nam. According to independent national
public opinion polls, the majority of adult Americans are dissatisfied
with conventional medical care and support freer access to unconventional
therapies. The OTA report does not adequately address the urgency of this
Also underaddressed: the persistent, pervasive, cumulative legacy of
decades of unfair condemnation and neglect of unconventional therapies
without regard to their promise or demonstrated efficacy. This context
is absolutely vital to understanding many of the current institutional
and other roadblocks that marginalize alternative therapies.
There's an axiom that conventional, status quo science seldom willingly
admits or submits to challenges by unorthodoxy, especially in the case
of cancer therapy, where many of the alternatives are simply incompatible,
scientifically and economically, with an interlocked system that admits
only expensive, toxic approaches.
For decades now, unconventional medicine has been locked out by official
science. Not surprisingly, then, the OTA draft finds official evidence
of efficacy lacking That should have been the starting point for the OTA's
analysis. But for each therapy under review here we get a section entitled,
pejoratively "claims", followed by another section entitled "adverse effects."
The last words shall always be negative.
Two very different therapies. vitamin C and Hoxsey's herbal treatment,
are dealt with similarly: no attempts by OTA to contact the Linus Pauling
Institute or the Biomedical Hoxsey Center; instead, an emergency room
physician is dispatched to do a literature-search hatchet job on vitamin
C while a largely-positive contract report on Hoxsey by a noted independent
academic is covered up.
OTA was stymied in a search for adverse reports on the Hoxsey therapy,
so the authors resort, instead. to citing toxicity resulting from high
doses of individual herbs that are ingredients of the Hoxsey medicines.
And arsenic, we are told, can be fatal when ingested, but arsenic is used
only topically, and never internally, in the Hoxsey therapy.
I wish the authors of this report had ventured into the real world of
unconventional cancer treatment, like Benedict Fitzgerald, a respected
Justice Department attorney, who led a similar government investigation
in 1953. His method, however, was on site, thorough, and probing.
The OTA draft cites Fitzgerald a couple times, but ignores his important
conclusions. It also twists his assertions 180 degrees. Did the OTA ever
try to contact Fitzgerald?
This draft is not neutral and comprehensive. Rather, in the sections
that count, it is an uncritical, selective review of biased, uninformed,
Curiously, parts of the report seem relatively fair, like the section
on macrobiotics. But parts of the -report also strike one as the latest
chapter in a long campaign of official denial, disinformation, and suppression
of unconventional therapies. The draft's recommendations are inadequate.
Its minor tinkering will only help to perpetuate the medical twilight
zone that alternative therapies are automatically relegated to.
OTA has faced a major challenge during the last three and one half years.
Perhaps it's beyond the present capabilities of OTA, judging by this draft.
Yet it's an important mission. The Congress and the American people demand
clear information, reasoned insight and possible solutions regarding this
life-and death situation. Instead, we get an obsolete, inadequate road
map of a challenging, rough terrain.
For the sake of the millions of people with cancer who will die in the
years ahead and for the future of free scientific inquiry and progress,
I suggest that this draft needs major, if not complete, revision, or else
it should be scrapped.
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