Scientists Speak About Political Pressures
Federal whistleblowers met yesterday to publicly discuss issues of suppression of science, dissemination of inaccurate information and manipulation of scientific advice under the Bush administration.
"[We] usually talk about federal employees exposing waste, fraud and abuse of authority," said the whistleblower panel’s host Celia Wexler of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which sponsored the event held in Washington. "But those terms don’t really cover what scientists tend to experience," she said. Wexler went on to say that scientists worry about findings being altered and the inability to publish their work, speak at conferences and talk to the media because of political pressures.
Former federal scientists, including David Ross, of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Rick Piltz, formerly of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program discussed political interference in the approval processes for prescription drugs, the editing of climate change documents and the formulation of mercury emissions standards.
EPA scientists surveyed by the UCS last month expressed similar concerns. Nearly 900 scientists responded to the survey saying that they personally experienced political interference over the last five years.
The panel coincided with whistleblower legislation currently in conference, where House and Senate versions of the bill are being hashed out.