MCS Referral & Resources

professional outreach, patient support and public advocacy

devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, accommodation and prevention

of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Disorders


Press Release -- Strictly Embargoed Until 11am, Wednesday, 25 September 1996

For more information, call Albert Donnay, 410-448-3319, or Dr. Grace Ziem, 410-462-4085

2326 Pickwick Road, Baltimore, MD 21207-6631, fax: 410-448-3317, e-mail: donnaya@rtk.net

ABC's John Stossel Denounced For Sending Phony Patients
to Discredit Diagnosis of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
group charges stossel with pursuing chemical industry agenda

Dr. Grace Ziem (MD, DrPH) today denounced John Stossel of ABC News for trying to discredit the diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as part of an upcoming special he is hosting on "junk science." She revealed that Mr. Stossel sent her two phony patients--an ABC News staffperson, Deborah J. Stone, and her sister-in-law--who pretended to suffer from the disorder by lying about their symptoms and medical history. Dr. Ziem is a Harvard and Johns Hopkins-trained physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of MCS and cares for hundreds of chemically-injured patients. She is also the president and medical director of MCS Referral & Resources (MCS R&R), a Baltimore-based organization devoted to furthering public awareness of MCS disorders. Dr. Ziem expressed outrage that Mr. Stossel would resort to such a deception when there are so many genuine MCS patients who suffer daily from exposures to the many toxic chemicals found in products such as pesticides, paint, carpeting, carbonless copy paper, and perfume.

Rather than participate in an interview scheduled for this morning with Mr. Stossel in Baltimore's Stouffer Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, Dr. Ziem instead made a point of remaining in her office to address the needs of her bonafide patients [410-462-4085]. In her place, she sent MCS R&R director Albert Donnay [410-448-3319], who presented Mr. Stossel with a formal statement from Dr. Ziem objecting to his deceptive, biased tactics and calling on ABC News President Roone Arledge to cancel both Mr. Stossel's upcoming "junk science" special and his contract. "Mr. Stossel's deception violates physician-patient confidence and is a disgrace to responsible investigative journalism," said Dr. Ziem. "Although I could have simply quietly canceled my interview, I am speaking out publicly to alert other physicians and MCS patients to Mr. Stossel's unethical tactics in the hope that they may be forewarned--and he forestalled--from engaging in such deception again." MCS Referral & Resources urges all physicians and MCS patients to join Dr. Ziem in boycotting interviews with Mr. Stossel. [continued]

ABC's John Stossel Challenged by Dr. Grace Ziem Contact 410-448-3319, p. 2

Mr. Stossel's phony patients were suspected early on by Dr. Ziem and her staff, who noticed several inconsistencies during their extensive initial workups. Dr. Ziem's suspicions were confirmed by a colleague at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, who told MCS Referral & Resources that Mr. Stossel's assistant producer, Pamela Troutman [212-456-7741], had disclosed the deception to him in the course of inquiring about Dr. Ziem's medical practice. "That Mr. Stossel would send me phony patients reflects his chemical industry agenda to discredit the physical basis of MCS disorders, the suffering of MCS patients, and the efforts of physicians such as myself to diagnose and manage MCS disorders through the careful avoidance of aggravating chemical exposures and other medical treatments," said Dr. Ziem. It also fits with the well documented pro-industry bias of Mr. Stossel's other environmental reporting, from his promotion of food irradiation to belittling the dangers of exposure to pesticides, asbestos and electromagnetic fields.

In support of the chemical industry position on MCS, Mr. Stossel has already interviewed Dr. Ronald Gots, the founder and president of the Environmental Sensitivities Research Institute [301-984-8933]. By his own admission, Dr. Gots has not cared for a single patient of his own for 20 years, yet he has testified against the claims of MCS patients for over a decade as a paid witness for chemical and insurance companies. His ostensibly non-profit "institute," which actually does no "research," charges $10,000 per year for "Enterprise Membership" and includes on its board of directors representatives from the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, Proctor and Gamble, Monsanto, and DowElanco. MCS Referral & Resources documented the extensive "Undisclosed Biases and Misrepresentations" of Dr. Gots in a fact sheet prepared for ABC News, but suspects that Mr. Stossel nevertheless may portray him as an unbiased expert on MCS.

"It is really grossly misleading for Mr. Stossel to give credence to Dr. Gots' claim that MCS is either a psychogenic (imagined) illness or an iatrogenic (doctor-induced) fear of chemicals," said Mr. Donnay. As documented in an extensive bibliography on MCS compiled by MCS Referral & Resources, the overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed scientific studies and current research on MCS clearly support a physical basis for the disorder.

Although Dr. Ziem is unwilling to contribute to Mr. Stossel's "junk journalism," she would welcome an interview about MCS with ABC's Barbara Walters or any other reputable journalist.

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