Has the Current US Administration Distorted and/or Censored Scientific Results? Crispin H. Pierce, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Content 1. Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Report 2. Response to the Allegations Made in the UCS Report by the Office of Science and Technology Policy 3. Removal of Data Regarding Climate Change 4. Plagiarism of Industry Text for Government Policy 5. Effectiveness of “Abstinence-Only” Sex Education 6. Mr. Bush and Evolution 6. Abortion and Breast Cancer 7. Regulation of Publication of USDA “Sensitive Issues” 8. Aluminum Tubes and the War in Iraq 9. Nuclear Weapons and Iraq 10. Forest Management 11. Peer Review of Scientific Information 12. Changes in the Advisory Committee to Establish Lead Exposure Standards 13. NIOSH Workplace Injury Study Section 14. Appointment to the FDA Advisory Committee 15. Reproductive Health Appointments 16. Drug Abuse Committee Appointment 17. Army Science Board Appointment 18. National Nuclear Security Administration 19. Response From the Bush Administration Union of Concerned Scientists Report • In February of 2004, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a report entitled Scientific Integrity: An Investigation into the Bush Administration‟s Misuse of Science • This statement was endorsed by 62 prominent scientists, including 19 National Medal of Science signatories, 20 Nobel Laureates, and 3 Crafoord Prize winners. • The following discussion is an evaluation of the claims made in the UCS report using multiple peer-reviewed sources of information. OSTP Responses • On April 2, 2004, Dr. John Marburger, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the Bush Administration, provided responses to some of the allegations raised in the UCS report: http://www.ostp.gov/html/ucs/Responseto CongressonUCSDocumentApril2004.pdf • These responses are italicized. Removal of Data Regarding Climate Change • The New York Times: “Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish draft report on state of environment, but long section describing risks of global warming have been edited by Bush administration down to few noncommital paragraphs.” • The Union of Concerned Scientist‟s February 2004 Report: “The following document is an internal EPA decision paper that addresses staff concerns about White House edits to the Report on the Environment [ROE]… The paper is dated April 29, 2003.” • OSTP Response: “...the Administrator of the EPA decided not to include a short summary on climate change. Instead, the final EPA report referred readers to the far more expansive and complete exposition of climate change knowledge, the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Strategic Plan.” Plagiarism of Industry Text for Government Policy • A January 31, 2004 story in the Washington Post stated that, “A side-by-side comparison of one of the [Bush Administration‟s] three proposed rules [for mercury emissions] and the memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins -- one of Washington's premier corporate environmental law firms -- shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions.” • OSTP Response: “The reference here is to a preamble of a proposed EPA rule to control (for the first time) mercury emissions from power plants. The text in question is in the preamble, not the proposed rule itself. … Such direct use of submitted memoranda should not have occurred.” Effectiveness of “Abstinence-Only” Sex Education • UCS Report: “…the Bush administration went further by distorting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control‟s (CDC) science-based performance measures to test whether abstinence-only programs were proving effective, such as charting the birth rate of female program participants. In place of such established measures, the Bush administration has required the CDC to track only participants‟ program attendance and attitudes, measures designed to obscure the lack of efficacy of abstinence-only programs.” • OSTP Response: “Currently, the Federal government funds abstinence-only education programs through the Health Resources and Services Administration, not CDC. The program was never designed as a scientific study, and so even if the original performance measures had been kept, little or no scientifically useable data would be obtained.” Mr. Bush and Evolution • The Acumen Journal: “Just days before he was elected president, George W. Bush was asked for his opinion about evolution by The New York Times and he said that the „jury is still out.‟” • No OSTP Response. Abortion and Breast Cancer UCS Report: “…in a case the New York Times labeled „an egregious distortion of the evidence,‟ information suggesting a link between abortion and breast cancer was posted on the National Cancer Institute website despite objections from CDC staff, who noted that substantial scientific study has long refuted the connection. After public outcry on the matter, the information has since been revised and no longer implies a connection.” • OSTP Response: “The NCI fact sheet “Abortion and Breast Cancer” has been revised several times since it was first written in 1994. NCI temporarily removed the fact sheet from the website when it became clear that there was conflicting information in the published literature.” • “In order to clarify the issue, in February 2003 a workshop of over 100 of the world's leading experts...concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman's subsequent risk of developing breast cancer. … A revised fact sheet was posted on the NCI website shortly after the workshop reflecting the findings.” Regulation of Publication of USDA “Sensitive Issues” • UCS Report: “Dr. James Zahn, a research microbiologist at the USDA who asserts that he was prohibited on no fewer than 11 occasions from publicizing his research on the potential hazards to human health posed by airborne bacteria resulting from farm wastes.” • OSTP Response: “In February 2002, Dr. Zahn was invited to speak at the Adair (Iowa) County Board of Health meeting in Greenfield, Iowa. Permission was initially granted by ARS management for Dr. Zahn to speak because it was thought that he was being invited to speak on his primary area of scientific expertise and government work, management of odors from hog operations. Permission for Dr. Zahn to speak representing the ARS at the meeting was withdrawn when it was learned that Dr. Zahn was expected to speak on health risks of hog confinement operations, an area in which Dr. Zahn did not have any scientific data or expertise.” • “… on five occasions he was not authorized to discuss the public health ramifications of his observations on the spread of resistant bacteria, because he had no data or expertise with respect to public health.” • UCS Report: “The following is an internal USDA document issued in February 2002 that accompanied a directive to USDA staff scientists to seek prior approval before publishing any research or speaking publicly on „sensitive issues.‟ The document was supplied by Dr. James Zahn, then on staff at USDA.” “List of Sensitive Issues for ARS Manuscript Review and Approval by National Program Staff - February 2002 (Revised) 1. Creation of transgenic food or feed organisms by genetic engineering. 2. Studies of genetically engineered organisms in the field. 3. Cloning of animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer. 4. Somatic cell fusion to recombine DNA in ways that cannot be achieved through sexual crossing. 5. Dioxin research. …” “7. Agricultural practices with negative health and environmental consequences, eg., global climate change; contamination of water by hazardous materials (nutrients, pesticides, and pathogens); animal feeding operations or crop production practices that negatively impact soil, water, or air quality. ... 10. Research findings and recommendations that are contrary to current dietary guidelines or may be used in food labeling. … 13. Harmful microorganisms and their products (e.g., aflatoxin, mycotoxin, fumonisin, Salmonella, E. Coli) in agricultural commodities. 14. Pesticides or animal drugs in foods above approved tolerance levels. 15. All transmissible encephalopathy (TSE) research including BSE research. 16. Herbicide-resistant crop plant research. 17. Animal well-being/animal use. …” • “USDA-ARS headquarters has had a long- standing, routine practice (at least 20 years) that has spanned several Administrations to require review of research reports of high visibility topics (called the “List of Sensitive Issues”). ARS headquarters review, when required, do not censor, or otherwise deny publication of, the research findings, but may aid in the interpretation and communication of the results, including providing advance alert to others.” Aluminum Tubes and the War in Iraq • Isis Online: “The September 12, 2002 White House White Paper, A Decade of Deception and Defiance states: „Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes which officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium.‟” • “Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor, said on CNN Late Edition on September 8, 2002 that the aluminum tubes „are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.‟” • “The Vice President reinforced this point on NBC's Meet the Press, stating that Saddam Hussein „now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium-specifically aluminum tubes.‟” • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “„…Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high- specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries…‟ (Secretary Powell, Address to United Nations Security Council, February 5, 2003)” “„DOE (US Department of Energy) agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the [aluminum] tubes probably are not part of the program.‟ „Iraq‟s efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR [U.S. Department of State‟s Bureau of Intelligence and Research] is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors . . . The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq‟s nuclear weapon program.‟” • “The administration also conveyed a deep- seated distrust of the inspectors‟ findings and conclusions. For example, the administration dismissed the IAEA‟s (International Atomic Energy Agency‟s) conclusion that Iraq‟s aluminum tubes were not destined for Iraq‟s nuclear enrichment program.” • OSTP Response, quoting CIA Director George Tenet: “We have additional data to collect and more sources to question. Moreover, none of the tubes found in Iraq so far match the high-specification tubes Baghdad sought and may never have received the amounts needed [sic].” Nuclear Weapons and Iraq • Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: “[W]e do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.” (Vice President Cheney, NBC „Meet the Press,‟ September 8, 2002)” • “„Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.‟ (President Bush, Address to the Nation on War with Iraq, March 17, 2003)” • “IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei reported to the UN Security Council on March 7, 2003, that: There is „no indication of resumed nuclear activities…nor any indication of nuclear- related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.‟” • “„There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.” The documents that indicated Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Niger were declared „in fact not authentic.‟” • “David Kay said on October 2, „to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.‟” • OSTP Response, quoting George Tenet: “… Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon; he still wanted one; and Iraq intended to reconstitute a nuclear program at some point. … We do not yet know if any reconstitution efforts had begun, but we may have overestimated the progress Saddam was making.” Forest Management • UCS Report: “In an incident involving the management of national forests, the Bush administration created a five-person „review team‟ made up of predominantly nonscientists who proceeded to overrule a $12 million science-based plan for managing old-growth forest habitat and reducing the risk of fire in 11 national forests. This so-called Sierra Nevada Framework, which was adopted by the Clinton administration in 2001 after nine years of research by more than 100 scientists from the Forest Service and academia, had been viewed by the experts who reviewed it as an exemplary use of credible science in forest policy.” • OSTP Response: “...the Forest Service received over 200 appeals of the [Sierra Nevada Framework] and had to review and respond to them. To address these appeals, the Regional Forester (Region Five – California) established the five- person Review Team to evaluate any needed changes to the [Framework] Record of Decision. One scientist provided scientific support to this team.” Peer Review of Scientific Information UCS Report: “The administration‟s Office of Management and Budget [OMB] is creating a new way in which the federal government gathers and reviews scientific and technical information. “This rule would centralize information review and use, even though OMB has not identified any inherent deficiencies with the current distributed system.” • “The proposed rule would prohibit most scientists who receive funding from a government agency from serving as peer reviewers, but would permit scientists employed or funded by industry to serve as reviewers (unless they had a direct financial interest in the issue under review).” • OSTP Response: “While the draft Bulletin cites government research funds as one factor that agencies should consider when determining which scientists should be selected, the listed factors are those „relevant to‟ the decision, not criteria that automatically exclude participation.” Changes in the Advisory Committee to Establish Lead Exposure Standards Report by the staff of Representative Ed Markey: “This report reveals recent changes to the membership of the Advisory Committee that indicate that the nominations of renowned scientists with a long record in determining the health effects associated with childhood lead poisoning are being rejected, and that instead the vacancies are being filled by individuals who have direct ties to the lead industry, which has a financial interest in the policies adopted by the Advisory Committee.” • Reappointment rejected: “Dr. Michael Weitzman, Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester, and Pediatrician in Chief, Rochester General Hospital, Advisory Committee member since 1997, author of numerous peer-reviewed publications on lead poisoning.” • Nominations rejected: “Dr. Bruce Lanphear, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, currently the Sloan Professor of Children's Environmental Health, author of numerous peer- reviewed publications on lead poisoning. • “Dr. Susan Klitzman, Associate Professor of Urban Public Health at the Hunter College School of Health Sciences, author of numerous peer-reviewed publications on lead poisoning.” • Nominations accepted: “Dr. William Banner, expert witness for the lead industry who believes that lead is harmful only at levels that are 7-10 times as high as the current CDC blood lead levels. • “Dr. Joyce Tsuji, principal scientist for Exponent, a company whose corporate clients include ASARCO (which is currently disputing EPA's assumptions that ASARCO is the source of elevated arsenic and lead in residential soils in El Paso and fighting Superfund designation) and King and Spalding, a DC law firm representing several large lead firms, and who has testified that the health risks of toxic plumes were not imminent.” • “Dr. Kimberly Thompson, Assistant Professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science, Harvard School of Public Health, affiliated with the heavily industry-funded Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. HCRA has 22 corporate funders with a financial interest in the deliberations of the CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and less stringent regulation of lead. Three of these funders have Superfund sites with lead contamination - Ciba- Geigy Corporation, FMC Corporation, and Monsanto.” • “Dr. Sergio Piomelli, Professor, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, researcher who reportedly disagrees with the current blood lead standard set by the CDC Advisory Committee in 1991. • “Tracey V. Lynn, affiliation and lead poisoning expertise not able to be determined.” • OSTP Response: “Regarding the suggestion that two appointees had ties to the industry, every candidate is put through a rigorous ethics process that includes a conflicts of interest analysis. … Regarding the issue of appointment of advisory committee members, the members in question replaced outgoing members who had served several terms and others had permissibly served beyond the expiration of their present terms.” NIOSH Workplace Injury Study Section UCS Report: “In a well-documented case involving HHS, Secretary Thompson dismissed three well-qualified experts on ergonomics from a narrowly focused peer review panel at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The three nominees in question had been selected to join a so-called study section of the Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health that evaluates research grants on workplace injuries. Based on their credentials and reputations in the field, the three had been chosen by the committee chair and panel staff, and had initially been approved by the director of NIOSH.” • “Dr. Laura Punnett, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, states she has little doubt that she was removed from the study section for political reasons. There were no complaints about her work during the year she served in an ad hoc basis on the study section and she was told upon her dismissal by the chair of the study section that her removal had nothing to do with her credentials or the quality of her work.” • Science Magazine: One of the rejected nominees, ergonomics expert Laura Punnett of the University of Massachusetts stated "I was shocked," [about being rejected]. "I think it conveys very powerfully that part of the goal is to intimidate researchers and limit what research questions are asked." • Dana Lewis, in Science Magazine: “I am chair of one of the affected study sections, which reviews research grant proposals submitted to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other agencies. … Secretary Thompson's office recently sent word that three candidates nominated for permanent membership on the study section would not be confirmed.” • “The secretary declined to give reasons for rejecting the three scientists nominated for membership on the study section. They are all established scientists who had served as temporary members for some time and whose qualifications had been duly reviewed and approved at every other level. The reasoning nevertheless seems clear in at least one case: One of the rejected nominees is an expert in ergonomics who has publicly supported a workplace ergonomics standard.” • “This level of political interference with peer review is an ominous precedent for research throughout the federal government. … All scientists who have served as reviewers or rely on study sections for expert, unbiased reviews should be concerned, and so should the end-users of the knowledge that federally funded research generates.” • Science Magazine: “One nominee who was recently screened for the panel says that she was asked politically charged questions by a member of Thompson's staff. Pamela Kidd, an expert in injury prevention and associate dean of the College of Nursing at Arizona State University in Tempe, says that the staffer called in September and asked if she would be an advocate on certain issues involving ergonomics if appointed to the panel.” • OSTP Response: “Agencies typically review many individuals to serve on advisory panels and they may be rejected for a variety of reasons. In this instance, one of the scientists that the UCS mentions was actually selected to be appointed to the committee.” Appointment to the FDA Advisory Committee • Time Magazine: “Dr. W. David Hager, an obstetrician- gynecologist who also wrote, with his wife Linda, Stress and the Woman's Body, which puts „an emphasis on the restorative power of Jesus Christ in one's life‟ and recommends specific Scripture readings and prayers for such ailments as headaches and premenstrual syndrome. Though his resume describes Hager as a University of Kentucky professor, a university official says Hager's appointment is part time and voluntary and involves working with interns at Lexington's Central Baptist Hospital, not the university itself. In his private practice, two sources familiar with it say, Hager refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. Hager did not return several calls for comment.” • OSTP Response: “Both the individuals [including Dr. Hager] cited by the UCS are in fact well qualified. Their CV‟s are widely available and it is not necessary to repeat them here.” Reproductive Health Appointments • The American Psychological Association: “Since [the] summer [of 2002], members of the scientific community have become increasingly concerned that federal scientific advisory committees are being unduly influenced by political considerations.” • “Their concerns have been spurred by a series of controversial decisions by the agencies that administer those committees, including…The decision by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to replace the National Human Research Protections Advisory Committee with a smaller committee, the charter of which describes embryos and fetuses as „human subjects.‟” • No OSTP response. • Science Magazine: “The White House's willingness to twist science for political purposes has extended beyond these episodes. As organizations and individuals committed to safe and effective public health services that are grounded in scientific evidence, we are particularly worried about the incursion of groups such as the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition into recent CDC meetings on HIV prevention. At those meetings, representatives from these organizations have advocated for abstinence-only education, the ineffectiveness of condoms, and reparative therapy for homosexuality as an AIDS prevention tool, despite the preponderance of evidence contradicting the assertion that such approaches are effective.” • No OSTP response. Drug Abuse Committee Appointment • The American Psychological Association: “Dr. William Miller says he received a call from a White House liaison in January 2002 about his nomination to the National Advisory Committee on Drug Abuse. The staffer asked him…questions about his stance on faith-based initiatives, abortion, capital punishment, needle- exchange programs and drug legalization. After each question, says Miller, the staffer gave him a running tally of „correct‟ answers--those that matched President Bush's policies. The staffer also asked him whether he had voted for Bush in the 2000 presidential election and, when Miller said he had not, asked him why he hadn't.” • OSTP Response: “The HHS Office of the Secretary recommended that Dr. Miller be considered for this panel and NIDA did not concur. The decision by NIDA/NIH was not based on any conversations with any members of the Secretary‟s Office.” Army Science Board Appointment • WE Howard III in Science Magazine: “Last fall, I was part of a group, most of whom had been consultants to the Army Science Board (ASB), who were nominated to become full members of that Board, which is composed of scientists, engineers, and retired flag-rank military whose mission is to advise the Army on technical matters. The Army passed our names to the White House Liaison Office in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) after the Army's approval. Once there, however, about a dozen of us were disapproved.” • “I was also told by a member of the ASB staff that I was supposed to have contributed to Senator John McCain‟s campaign—the reason for my being disapproved.” • OSTP Response: “This contention is without support.” National Nuclear Security Administration UCS Report: “The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is the agency within the DOE responsible for maintaining the nation‟s nuclear weapons stockpile, and the ability to design and test new nuclear warheads should the president decide to acquire them. When Congress established the NNSA in 2000, it also created an independent, external technical advisory committee. This committee, formed in 2001, had a membership that included a number of distinguished physicists and technical experts with extensive knowledge of nuclear weapons, as well as former government officials and retired senior military officers. The committee was summarily abolished in June 2003.” • “Some of the physicists on the committee had published articles explaining that nuclear weapons have only a limited capability to destroy deeply buried targets and, furthermore, that such attacks would inevitably produce a great deal of radioactive fallout.” “Nevertheless, a senior NNSA official expressed displeasure about the articles to the authors, presumably because the administration‟s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review called for development of such weapons and President Bush‟s FY04 budget included funds for research on these so- called nuclear „bunker busters.‟ The NNSA administrator has justified the abolition of the committee because there is „no shortage of advice‟ and „there are a lot of physicists who work‟ at the weapons labs.” • OSTP Response: “The NNSA Advisory Committee was established in June 2001, not by Congress, but by the Department of Energy ... As is the case with most advisory committees, the NNSA committee was established for a period not to exceed two years. The charter expired in June of 2003 and was not renewed.” Response From the Bush Administration The New York Times: “Dr. John H. Marburger III, science adviser to President Bush and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, said it was important to listen to „the distinguished scientific leadership in this country.‟ But he said the report consisted of a largely disconnected list of events that did not make the case for a suppression of good scientific advice by the administration. „I think there are incidents where people have got their feathers ruffled,‟ Dr. Marburger said. „But I don't think they add up to a big pattern of disrespect.‟ „In most cases,‟ he added, „these are not profound actions that were taken as the result of a policy. They are individual actions that are part of the normal processes within the agencies.‟” History of Political Influence on US Research • UCS Report: Russell Train, the EPA Administrator under Presidents Nixon and Ford stated “In all my time at the EPA, I don‟t recall any regulatory decision that was driven by political considerations. More to the present point, never once, to my best recollection, did either the Nixon or Ford White House ever try to tell me how to make a decision.” • “My sense is that, from the beginning of the Bush administration, the White House has constantly injected itself into the way the EPA approaches and decides the critical issues before it. The agency has had little or no independence. I think that is a very great mistake, and one for which the American people could pay over the long run in compromised health and reduced quality of life.” • William Ruckelshaus, the first EPA administrator under President Nixon, stated “Is the analysis flawed? That is a legitimate reason for not releasing [a science-based analysis]. But if you don‟t like the outcome that might result from the analysis, that is not a legitimate reason.” Assignment • Consider the information presented in these slides, as well as other perspectives from independent sources. • Share your opinion on whether the allegations in the Union of Concerned Scientists‟ report are true or false in the Discussion.
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