Notable differences include:
1. The 2003 bill called for a panel composed of various state and national entities to study asbestos fibers, but the 2007 bill does not. The 2007 bill calls for a network to decide how funds should be appropriated and to which research institutions funds should go. State and national entities, of course, have historically worked hand in glove with industry to downplay the dangers of asbestos and to rely on clearly bad or even non-science to set dangerous threshold levels for asbestos exposure. By co-opting the state and national entities through administrative processes such as limited public funding, stripped down enforcement capability, and undue influence of industry advisory groups, asbestos makers have historically kept research and science on asbestos on a very short leash. The 2007 legislation opens up the possibility that scientific labs and researchers who are truly seeking scientific advancement for mesothelioma research will have access to research dollars.
2. The 2007 bill describes in more detail the more than 40 countries that have banned asbestos. Additionally, the 2003 bill states that France will ban asbestos in 2005, whereas the 2007 bill establishes that the entire European Union banned asbestos in 2005. This important language puts in perspective our government’s dereliction of duty with regard to protecting Americans from asbestos poisoning, and sets an international standard to which occupational health must live up to.
3. The 2007 bill is less specific as to what research will be done and how it is to be done. It sets forth that the NIH Director is responsible for appropriating funds. The 2003 bill tried to allocate resources directly. This important change means that there is at least a good possibility that research topics will be defined through the give and take of scientific analysis.
4. The 2007 bill does not state which research entities will receive funding, but states in more detail which types of entities are eligible, whereas the 2003 bill did not make these distinctions. Again, this approach gives a leg up to institutes that specialize in mesothelioma and asbestos research.
In all, the 2007 bill is much more thorough. Its language on research means that asbestos research and funding will not become captive of the asbestos and manufacturing industries, as has happened repeatedly throughout the medical and scientific history of mesothelioma and asbestosis.