Lack of Information

Upendra Baxi

Legal Scholar, Professor of Law in Development

Union Carbide withhold epidemiological research

"First they said (on MIC) it was Phosgene that leaked, then they said MIC is really not toxic, if you study the media statements at this time you can see this. To me this is the height of non accountability and non responsibility in doing business."

Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical, following the February 2001 merger) continues to claim over 60 years of research (including research on human 'volunteers') on methyl isocyanate (the gas that leaked from the Bhopal pesticide plant) as “trade secrets”. There is more than enough research to suggest that by withholding information, propagating misinformation and the withdrawal of funds meant for medical care, Union Carbide has impeded the healthcare efforts of the victims to help themselves. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in turn stopped all research into the health effects of the gas in 1994 and is yet to publish the findings of the 24 research studies it had carried out up to that point involving over 80,000 survivors.

In the absence of medical information, no treatment protocols specific to exposure-induced, multi-systemic problems exist. Of the two official publications resembling treatment protocols, one covers little except the management of respiratory problems, and the vast majority of the medical community in Bhopal is not even aware of its existence. As a result, drugs for temporary symptomatic relief have been the mainstay of medical care ever since the morning of the disaster. This indiscriminate prescription of steroids, antibiotics and psychotropic drugs continues to compound the damage caused by gas exposure.

We believe Dow must finally accept responsibility for Bhopal. Until then, The Bhopal Medical Appeal funds two award-winning clinics in the city. Both offer free, first-class care to victims of the gas disaster or the ongoing water contamination. The survivors have nowhere else left to turn – please help if you can.