Union of Concerned Scientists – 2004-07-08 23:34:20
In February, 62 prominent scientists and science advisors released a statement along with a detailed UCS report charging the Bush administration with widespread and unprecedented manipulation, distortion, and suppression of government science on a wide range of issues.
Since the statement was created, more than 4,000 scientists have signed on, including 48 Nobel laureates and 61 National Medal of Science winners.
A number of these scientists have served in multiple administrations, both Democratic and Republican, underscoring the unprecedented nature of this administration’s practices and demonstrating that the issues of scientific integrity transcend partisan politics.
Despite considerable media coverage of this issue, the Bush administration’s suppression and distortion of scientific analysis has continued seemingly unchecked.
Today, UCS released several new cases that document continued manipulation and abuse of science in federal policy making.
Restoring Scientific Integrity
The United States has an impressive history of investing in the capabilities and respecting the independence of scientists. This legacy has brought us sustained economic progress, science-based public health policy, and unequaled scientific leadership within the global community.
However, actions by the Bush administration threaten to undermine this legacy, and as a result, policy decisions are being made that have serious consequences for our health, safety, and environment.
Across a broad range of issues — from childhood lead poisoning and mercury emissions to climate change, reproductive health, and nuclear weapons — the administration is distorting and censoring scientific findings that contradict its policies; manipulating the underlying science to align results with predetermined political decisions;and undermining the independence of science advisory panels by subjecting panel nominees to political litmus tests that have little or no bearing on their expertise; nominating non-experts or underqualified individuals from outside the scientific mainstream or with industry ties; as well as disbanding science advisory committees altogether.
These activities are of grave concern to members of the scientific community as well as to those who rely on government information to inform policy decisions. But they should also concern the American public, which places its trust in the government as an honest broker of scientific information and one that will protect our health and safety.
Further investigation of the Bush administration’s abuse of science
On February 18, 2004, 62 preeminent scientists including Nobel laureates, National Medal of Science recipients, former senior advisers to administrations of both parties, numerous members of the National Academy of Sciences, and other well-known researchers released a statement titled Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policy Making.
In this statement, the scientists charged the Bush administration with widespread and unprecedented “manipulation of the process through which science enters into its decisions.” The scientists’ statement made brief reference to specific cases that illustrate this pattern of behavior. In conjunction with the statement, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released detailed documentation backing up the scientists’ charges in its report, Scientific Integrity in Policy Making.
Since the release of the UCS report in February, the administration has continued to undermine the integrity of science in policy making seemingly unchecked. Many scientists have spoken out about their frustration with an administration that has undermined the quality of the science that informs policy making by suppressing, distorting, or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies and on scientific advisory panels.
For instance, Michael Kelly, a biologist who had served at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service for nine years, recently resigned his position and issued an indictment of Bush administration practices. As Kelly wrote, “I speak for many of my fellow biologists who are embarrassed and disgusted by the agency’s apparent misuse of science.”
[To read the entire letter, go to: http://www.peer.org/california/kellyresignation.html]
Scientific Integrity in Policy Making: Update
Further investigation of the Bush administration’s abuse of science investigates several new incidents that have surfaced since the February 2004 UCS report. These new incidents have been corroborated through in-depth interviews and internal government documents, including some documents released through the Freedom of Information Act. The cases that follow include:
• egregious disregard of scientific study, across several agencies, regarding the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal mining;
• censorship and distortion of scientific analysis, and manipulation of the scientific process, across several issues and agencies in regard to the Endangered Species Act;
• distortion of scientific knowledge in decisions about emergency contraception;
• new evidence about the use of political litmus tests for scientific advisory panel appointees. These new revelations put to rest any arguments offered by the administration that the cases to date have been isolated incidents involving a few bad actors.
The United States has an impressive history of investing in and reaping the benefits of scientific research. The actions by the Bush administration threaten to undermine the morale and compromise the integrity of scientists working for and advising America’s world-class governmental research institutions and agencies.
Not only does the public expect and deserve government to provide it with accurate information, the government has a responsibility to ensure that policy decisions are not based on intentionally or knowingly flawed science. To do so carries serious implications for the health, safety, and environment of all Americans.
Given the lack of serious consideration and response by the administration to concerns raised by scores of prominent scientists, UCS is committed to continuing to investigate and publicize cases — corroborated by witnesses and documentation — in which politics is allowed to stifle or distort the integrity of the scientific process in governmental policy making. UCS — working with scientists across many disciplines, other organizations, and elected officials — will also seek to develop and implement solutions that will protect government scientists from retribution when they bring scientific abuse to light, provide better scientific advice to Congress, strengthen the role of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, strengthen and ensure adherence to conflict of interest guidelines for federal advisory panels, and ensure full access to government scientific analysis that has not been legitimately classified for national security reasons.
Scientists: Sign the Statement
Join with the country’s leading scientists (including Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors, and university chairs and presidents) to call for immediate action on this issue.
Take Action —Citizens and scientists alike can get involved by calling on Congress to investigate and act the latest abuses.
Spread the Word —Tell colleagues, family, and friends about our efforts to halt the Bush administration’s dangerous practices and help restore the integrity of science in federal policymaking. Only the power of numbers will force the administration to change its behavior.
Report Abuses —Do you work in a federal agency or have you participated on a scientific panel where you have seen science compromised? Use the anonymous form to report abuses.
Support Our Efforts —Join the Union of Concerned Scientists to ensure we have the resources to make this campaign successfu