Fifty scientists have submitted a letter to an epidemiology journal protesting a February statement from six scientists acting as consultants to ChevronTexaco that refuted recent peer-reviewed studies showing negative health effects of oil production activities in the Amazon.

The oil giant's statement, which appeared in Ecuadorian newspapers and the company's Web site in early February, argued that the studies contain a series of flaws, and the reported elevated rates of cancer, spontaneous abortion, and other problems likely stem from the region's poor medical care and sanitation, among other factors. The company asked six scientists, including the founding editor of the journal Epidemiology, Ken Rothman of Boston University, to review the published data.

In response, 50 scientists from around the world have written a letter arguing that the company's statement was a "blatant" attempt to influence an ongoing court case in Ecuador, in which residents are suing ChevronTexaco for...

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