Ross' past statements contradict his 'sound science' proclamation

We were interested to read in your article "Science council stands by director following expos?"

We were interested to read in your article "Science council stands by director following expos?"

Dr. Gilbert Ross' statement that the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) bases all of its ideas on "sound science." We can't help but be skeptical when Dr. Ross consistently defends the manufacturing groups, which provide a significant amount of the council's funding.

In 2003, the US Consumer Products Safety Commission released a study linking the arsenic in pressure-treated wood to health risks such as bladder or lung cancer. The study recommended that children not eat near arsenic-treated wood and wash their hands after playing on outdoor wood playgrounds. It concluded that between two and 100 children out of 1 million will get bladder or lung cancer due to arsenic exposure.

Yet Ross, quoted in a press release issued by the Wood Preservative Science Council three months later, reported that "there is no evidence that children are exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from playing on pressure-treated wood."

As noted in a Mother Jones article, Ross has asserted, without qualification, that "PCB levels to which we are exposed from eating fish are not a cause of any health risk." He made that statement in the wake of a 2003 Environmental Working Group study that found significant risk from eating farmed salmon. A widely publicized study conducted by independent researchers from across North America and published this year in Environmental Research reinforced those findings, concluding that some farmed salmon is so high in PCBs and other toxins that it should not be eaten more than once every four months.

As for the ACSH Founder's Circle claim that Mother Jones is a "fringe magazine," I would offer that the American Society of Magazine Editors is not in the habit of giving National Magazine Awards to fringe publications. Mother Jones has won four such honors, including the 2001 General Excellence award.

Richard Reynolds
Communications director
Mother Jones
San Francisco


Clients are best serviced by 'brick and click' firms

In Craig McGuire's November 7 Agency Business column, he accurately captured a key aspect of what is an exciting new development in our industry and many other professional services disciplines. However, the focus of the piece, perhaps understandably, reflects a traditional agency perspective and, therefore, almost entirely misses the most vital quality of the new "bricks and clicks" agency.

All firms truly strive to be client-centered, but the traditional agency business model doesn't necessarily encourage that behavior. A "virtual" agency is a model with the potential to address that challenge. However, as the article reflects, from the clients' view, it has the deficiency of being, well, virtual.

The alternative is neither a virtual agency nor a network, but a true "brick and click" company. The brick side: A company with actual offices, full-time staff, conference rooms, an on-site library, copy machines, supplies, etc. The click side: A consortium of senior professionals contractually committed to and sharing profits with the agency.

Under the consortium model, clients are sure they will work with senior associates from start to finish, because that professional is only paid if he or she is working for the client.
The client also has access to the right professional for the job. There are far more senior pros in a consortium than the traditional agency and there is no billability or productivity requirement.

And, because the overhead is lower, the client saves money.

McGuire is right when he suggests this model also benefits the agency and the PR pro, but the real winner is the client - the business model guarantees it.

Terry Wade
Washington, DC

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