Ahh. Sorry - I assumed background knowledge here. The "silencing scientists" strategy of the US administration is an old problem - and this current
permutation is just a continuation of the old problem.
As you can see, there is
a situation, and a history, and documented impacts - of the US using the "select agent" designation to obstruct
research and sharing of information.
For example, U.S. Still Silencing Scientists
...scientists say business interests apply political pressure to reverse scientific conclusions that might interfere with profits, including timber,
grazing, development and energy companies. "The pressure to alter scientific reports for political reasons has become pervasive at Fish and Wildlife
offices around the country," says Lexi Shultz of the Union of Concerned Scientists. According to critics, the Bush administration routinely alters
science to suit political objectives.
More than 200 scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they have been directed to alter official findings to lessen protections
for plants and animals, a survey released Wednesday says.
More than half of the biologists and other researchers who responded to the survey said they knew of cases in which commercial interests, including
timber, grazing, development and energy companies, had applied political pressure to reverse scientific conclusions deemed harmful to their
"The pressure to alter scientific reports for political reasons has become pervasive at Fish and Wildlife offices around the country," said Lexi
Shultz of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Mitch Snow, a spokesman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the agency had no comment on the survey, except to say "some of the basic premises
just aren't so."
Sally Stefferud, a biologist who retired in 2002 after 20 years with the agency, said Wednesday she was not surprised by the survey results, saying
she had been ordered to change a finding on a biological opinion.
"Political pressures influence the outcome of almost all the cases," she said. "As a scientist, I would probably say you really can't trust the
science coming out of the agency."
A biologist in Alaska wrote in response to the survey: "It is one thing for the department to dismiss our recommendations, it is quite another to be
forced (under veiled threat of removal) to say something that is counter to our best professional judgment."
Game and Fish
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
A Mad Cow-like prion disease that infects deer and elk, called "chronic wasting disease," is epidemic in the US and is obviously a good part of the
reason for this most recent debacle in the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is talking publicly about the epidemic, and
wants to start regulating the disposal of deer and elk carcasses. Chronic wasting disease is found in wild herds in Wyoming and Colorado, and also
Nebraska, New Mexico, Illinois, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin. It has spread to domestic herds in Colorado, Montana and other states.
"Mad Cow" Spreading in Deer and Elk
The Bush admininistration has worked to silence scientists or modify scientific reports on several other occasions. Commonly, scientific information
about Mad Cow or prion related diseases was lurking in the background, threatening to make headlines.
It all started when Bush defined 'Mad Cow' BSE and TSE prions as "select agents" under anti-terrorist legislation. By January of 2004, researchers
went discreetly public with their concerns about constraints on Mad Cow research.
“Scientists worry that US gov't classification of BSE prions as 'select agents' could hinder research”
By April, EPA modelers said it out loud, "Science is being altered to suit
By June of 2004, US scientists were on a very short leash:
The U.S. government is making it harder for scientists to speak to their global colleagues... Rep. Henry Waxman said he has a letter showing that the
Health and Human Services Department has imposed new limits on who may speak to the World Health Organization.
Under the new policy, WHO must ask HHS for permission to speak to scientists and must allow HHS to choose who will respond.
"This policy is unprecedented. For the first time political appointees will routinely be able to keep the top experts in their field from responding
to WHO requests for guidance on international health issues,... This is a raw attempt to exert political control over scientists and scientific
evidence in the area of international health," Waxman wrote.
"Under the new policy the administration will be able to refuse to provide any experts whenever it wishes to stall international progress on
U.S. Charged With Silencing Scientists
The new policy prevented key US scientists from attending the 2004 International AIDS conference in Bangkok. Scheduled US speakers were forced to
cancel their presentations.
"The US Government came under scathing attack from senior members of the medical establishment for blocking scientists from attending the
International AIDS conference that opened in Bangkok at the weekend."
US bans scientists from AIDS event
"The absence of American researchers at the International AIDS Conference here this week has left many pondering why the decision was made to limit
US attendance, and by whom. ...It came from above [Secretary of Health and Human Services] Tommy Thompson," said one US researcher who was told not
to present her paper and had to find funding from other sources to attend. Although her work was cofunded by her university, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) component meant she was forbidden to present or talk to the media, she told The Scientist. "So I'm not going to give
you my name." "
Key US scientists missing from the increasingly political International AIDS Conference
The political difficulty with HIV-AIDS is that the 'virus' is most likely a mutated prion-virus hybrid, related to Mad Cow.
Mad Cow and AIDS
Gay Concern over Hyping AIDS 'Superbug'
Beyond covering up the Mad Cow epidemics, this administration silences US scientists in every discipline.
"Whether they are studying global warming, environmental toxins, or workplace safety, scientists who find their research unjustifiably shunned or
suppressed face similar challenges from corporate and special interests, said (CSPI Integrity in Science project director) Merrill Goozner.
...Baird also took the scientific community to task for failing to respond to the suppression of science (and contended that) scientists ... must
"stand up for the democratic process itself."
...An April 2004 General Accounting Office report titled "Federal Advisory Committees: Additional Guidance Could Help Agencies Better Ensure
Independence and Balance" ...said some departments have appointed members of industry and stakeholder groups, persons who are exempt from
conflict-of-interest rules. Industry leaders may therefore theoretically be profiting from their own advice."
Fighting for integrity. Scientists Dismayed at Corporate Influence, Politicization of
The Bush administration silences US scientists in every field to protect corporate interests, at the expense of ordinary peoples' health, lives and
[edit on 23-10-2005 by soficrow]