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The myth that the IACC doesn’t support environmental causation research

Posted Oct 20 2009 10:01pm

Say a lie often enough and people will believe you. That is the strategy over at the Age of Autism blog, and for the organizations that sponsor it.

One of their favorite lies is the idea that the IACC ( Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee ) doesn’t support research into environmental causes of autism.

We are lucky that the IACC has published their research portfolio, showing not only the budgeted amounts, but the amounts committed so far. Below is page 11 from this document, for “Question 3. What Caused This to Happen and Can This Be Prevented?”

Question 3. What Caused This to Happen and Can This Be Prevented?
3.1 Initiate studies on at least five environmental factors identified in the recommendations from the 2007 IOM report “Autism and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for Research” as potential causes of ASD by 2010. IACC Recommended Budget: $23,600,000 over 2 years. 2008 research funding $7,600,673

3.2 Coordinate and implement the inclusion of approximately 20,000 subjects for genome-wide association studies, as well as a sample of 1,200 for sequencing studies to examine more than 50 candidate genes by 2011. IACC Recommended Budget: $43,700,000 over 4 years. 2008 research funding $4,065,392

3.3 Within the highest priority categories of exposures for ASD, identify and standardize at least three measures for identifying markers of environmental exposure in biospecimens by 2011. IACC Recommended Budget: $3,500,000 over 3 years. 2008 research funding $713,227

3.4 Initiate efforts to expand existing large case-control and other studies to enhance capabilities for targeted gene – environment research by 2011. IACC Recommended Budget: $27,800,000 over 5 years. 2008 research funding $4,603,867

3.5 Enhance existing case-control studies to enroll broad ethnically diverse populations affected by ASD by 2011. IACC Recommended Budget: $3,300,000 over 5 years. 2008 research funding $184,628

3.6 Determine the effect of at least five environmental factors on the risk for subtypes of ASD in the pre- and early postnatal period of development by 2015. IACC Recommended Budget: $25,100,000 over 7 years. 2008 research funding $1,803,628

3.7 Conduct a multi-site study of the subsequent pregnancies of 1,000 women with a child with ASD to assess the impact of environmental factors in a period most relevant to the progression of ASD by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $11,100,000 over 5 years. 2008 research funding $2,742,999

3.8 Identify genetic risk factors in at least 50% of people with ASD by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $33,900,000 over 6 years. 2008 research funding $36,966,711

3.9 Support ancillary studies within one or more large-scale, population-based surveillance and epidemiological studies, including U.S. populations, to collect nested, case-control data on environmental factors during preconception, and during prenatal and early postnatal development, as well as genetic data, that could be pooled (as needed), to analyze targets for potential gene/environment interactions by 2015. IACC Recommended Budget: $44,400,000 over 5 years. 2008 research funding $17,297,788

Adding those topics funding environmental causation and gene-environment causation, I get a budget of $135,500,000 for six topics.

Summing the gene only projects (3.2 and 3.8) I get $77,600,000, for two projects.

Yes, about 60% of the causation budget is on environment and gene-environment mechanisms.

Why isn’t the Age of Autism blog writing about this? Why aren’t Generation Rescue, SafeMinds, the National Autism Association…all of the “environmental causation” organizations happy with this level of funding?

Why isn’t Lyn Redwood, IACC member and SafeMinds co-founder claiming a huge victory? How about Mark Blaixill, who is on an IACC subcommittee, and is also a member of SafeMinds? Why isn’t he discussing this?

The reason is obvious, to me at least. There isn’t a specific project calling for research into vaccines.

Guess what, there isn’t anything ruling out vaccine research either.

If the vaccines-cause-autism groups want to call for transparency in the process, why don’t they practice it? Why are they hiding information from the autism community? Do they actually care about environmental causation aside from vaccines? It doesn’t seem like it to this observer.

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