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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Back to Arsenic - Nonpublished

There is Arsenic in the soil and water of areas affected by Chronic Kidney Disease. It is not coming from Natha Deviyo or Vipassaka Deviyo but from the horse’s mouth so to say. WHO according to a certain newspaper has said: “The WHO had appointed an international team to do research related to CKD on a request made by Health Minister Maitripala Sirisena and this team commenced research about under the patronage of WHO Headquarters Senior Advisor Prof.Shanthi Mendis.

This team has planned to conduct their research under four key research questions. They are: What is the prevalence of CKD?,What is the incidence of CKD?, What is the exact geographical distribution of CKD? and Which strategies could prevent the condition?.

While continuing their research based on these questions, they have found that CKD cases has been observed in North Central, North Western, Uva and Eastern Provinces and it was also revealed that 8,000 people are currently undergoing treatment for this condition.

Experiments on CKD cases were conducted on a wide scale with the assistance of a number of institutions and it has been developed as a national research programme.

According to Prof. Mendis heavy metals could cause this condition and they have already conducted several experiments on three heavy metals, namely, cadmium, arsenic and lead. She said heavy metals are contained in soil, water and the food chain on a normal level and if it increases, it will be a threat to one’s health.”

WHO has also said that hard water is also responsible for the disease and warned the people not to consume hard water. As an immediate step the government should take steps to prevent people using well water which is the main hard water supply as far as the villagers in the affected areas are concerned. I am told that the best source of water is the wewa but with the present conditions I am not sure as to how the government would cope up with the situation. In any event the government and other organizations will have to provide the people with fresh water as much as possible. Having said that the medical practitioners should come out with a cure for the disease and I am not sure what WHO experts have in their minds with respect to this aspect.

In any event we know now that Arsenic is present in the soil and water in the affected areas and also that hard water is also a cause of CKD. It is no more CKDu, or Chronic Kidney Disease unidentified etiology but CKD. However, the group at the University of Kelaniya researching on CKD had known this for some time and at various seminars had made presentations revealing their findings. In fact it was the Kelaniya group which first announced that Arsenic is the main cause of the disease. The group at Kelaniya had said that CKD is caused mainly by Arsenic but two more conditions were needed to account for the high incidence of the disease in certain areas, they being hard water and a particular soil known as the kumburu pasa that is found in the affected areas. The mechanisms had been explained during the presentations but the great scientists in Sri Lanka made a hue and cry over the findings claiming that they were not scientific. Some scientists went to the extent of claiming that there was no Arsenic in water in the affected areas. I wish they had done their tests before they made these claims. In any event they were of the opinion that the Kelaniya group was making these statements without conducting any so called research employing the METHOD.

The method that they referred to is called the scientific method in their jargon, though now I find that not only that there is no method as such as has been shown by Feyarabend, but the so called method is only a cover up for the falseness of the so called scientific theories. In fact when Popper said that scientific theories should be open for falsification, he was only giving a grandiose credential for theories which are in any case false. I explain all these in detail in a forthcoming book “Batahira Vidyava, Aresnic ha Devivaru”.

Now the group at Kelaniya did not hide the fact that they got the idea of Arsenic being present in soil and water from Natha Deviyo but they conducted research in order to verify or otherwise these revealing by Natha Deviyo and Vipassaka Deviyo whom in my opinion should have been awarded hundreds of Nobel Prizes for his findings. However, Vipassaka Deviyo is not interested in Prizes Noble, Nobel or otherwise and he would in any case not accept awards made by a dynamite vendor. The Kelaniya group did not ask anybody to accept their views simply because Devivaru had revealed them but to carry out research on their own. It has to be mentioned that there are several academics including two Professors and a research student who had been awarded a scholarship by the UGC to conduct research not only on the cause of the disease but on a cure as well. He is a lecturer from the Rajarata University and is a western medical doctor. The Kelaniya group was able to verify that there was Arsenic in water, soil and flora from the affected areas but some members of the staff including a person who has been warned by the University for releasing results of a candidate without marking the relevant answer script and a person who has been warned by the University for staying at home without reporting for duty after coming back to the country from special leave and spending her leave at home did not accept the findings of the group giving flimsy excuses such as there were no Analytical Chemists in the group. Another member of the staff claimed that the equipment at the University were out of order while claiming for other purposes that she had carried out experiment using the selfsame equipment. Then there were their kith and kin who told gatherings of parents of students that some of the members of the Kelaniya group were insane. Some of these accusers got round the minister of Higher Education to tell him that the group at Kelaniya had established a Devale at the university. I wonder whether he believed these stories but these facts have to be mentioned in order to give an indication of the difficulties the group faced.
Then the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science came out with an unprecedented statement to demean the activities of the Kelaniya group at the instigation of some “great scientists” in the country. The statement said among other things: “The SLAAS cannot comment on the truth of these claims, which have been investigated by other institutions better equipped to do so. Their results contradict the claims made by this group. ‘However, we wish to make the following observations on the scientific process for gaining and disseminating knowledge, in order to guide both the press and the general public.
Scientists obtaining new research results are expected to submit these results to other scientists for verification in a process called "peer review". This includes publishing, or presenting their results to fellow scientists, before releasing them to the general public. If the results are likely to have an impact on public policy or public well-being, it is particularly important that other scientists have an opportunity to verify or reproduce these results, the statement noted.
In this case, there has been no peer review of the results. It has been claimed that a new method was used to obtain certain results, but no evidence of validation of this method has been presented. Instead, there appears to have been an attempt to get quick publicity. Under the circumstances, the authorities, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the Registrar of Pesticides, have acted very responsibly in submitting samples to a duly accredited laboratory, the Industrial Technology Institute, for verification, the statement noted.
Even if arsenic is found in water and soil in the North Central Province, that does not constitute sufficient evidence to attribute causation of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) to arsenic. We urge that the detailed methods used, including the sampling of water sources, collection of samples, the analytical method used, its validation and detailed results, as well as the body of evidence published or presented for review as early as possible.
There is another serious issue which casts grave doubts on the credibility of the claims made by the Kelaniya group. The Press has publicly identified as the leader of this group an individual, who despite holding a responsible position, professes a disdain for "Western" science. He has publicly claimed supernatural revelations ("samyak drushtika devivaru’) as the source of his group’s information and even methods. While recognising that many scientists are deeply religious, the SLAAS wishes to state categorically that superstition and the supernatural have no place in science, and that scientific results inspired by such sources are highly suspect because of a probable bias on the part of the investigator, it said.
We also note that the other researchers in the group have yet to distance themselves from the eccentric statements of their leader, and they need to do this if they wish to be taken seriously as scientists. Finally, the SLAAS considers it extremely unfortunate that the Dean of a Science Faculty should make it his publicly stated aim to run down science and bring it into disrepute".
The (then) Dean and the leader of the group referred to is none other than the authour, and I have replied to these in lengthy articles to “The Island” on so called scientific method, peer reviewing and Devivaru. I am not concerned with so called peer reviewing and publishing in so called prestigious international journals though in my youth I was inclined to do so having published two articles in “Nature” and other journals. Publishing in these journals is good for promotions but for the last twenty five years or so I have published only with people in my mind. However, I must mention that the Kelaniya group did follow the “accepted” methods of sampling, analyzing etc.
In any event the WHO has now confirmed the findings of the Kelaniya group, though I am not particularly interested in their confirmation. It is unfortunate that the real leader of the group Prof. Priyani Paranagama, Prof. Mala Amarasinghe and the research student Dr. Channa Jaysumana and the Faculty of Science at Kelaniya were deprived of their due credit and recognition as a result of malicious scheming by some members of the Faculty itself and their friends. To add insult to injury some of them are now trying to make life difficult for Prof. Paranagama and Dr. Jayasumana but it is heartening to note that despite these obstacles they are now involved with finding a cure for this deadly disease needless to say with the help of Natha Deviyo and Vipassaka Deviyo who has treated me on several occasions with utmost success.

Copyright Prof. Nalin De Silva