SCIENCE-US: Top Scientists Want Research Free From Politics


full article, by Adrianne Appel can be found here.

“The next president and Congress must cultivate an environment where reliable scientific advice flows freely,” said Susan Wood, a former director of women’s research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Wood resigned her post in 2005 in protest over the FDA’s delay in getting emergency, over-the-counter birth control onto the market.

“Serious consequences can result when drug safety decisions are not based on the best available scientific advice from staff scientists and experts,” she said.

Wood joined a panel of prominent scientists in Boston — convened by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group — to announce a joint statement asking Congress to protect scientific integrity. Among the more than 15,000 government scientists signing onto the statement are Harold Varmus, president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre and former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and Anthony Robbins, professor of medicine at Tufts University and former director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“Although surely the worst, the Bush Administration is not the first, nor will it be the last administration to mistreat and misuse science and scientists,” Robbins said. The White House itself has been directly involved in the suppression and falsification of science, Robbins stressed.

But interference from the White House is just part of the problem, said Francesca Grifo, a former government researcher and now a director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Industry lobbyists are all over government agencies, trying to influence research that will impact their corporations, she said. “These special interest groups are being given access at the highest level.”

“Government scientists have had their findings subjected to censorship and misrepresentation,” said Kurt Gottfried, professor of physics at Cornell University and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The public and Congress have often been deprived of accurate and candid scientific information.”

“The pursuit of science in an open society has had a long and fruitful tradition in America,” Gottfried said. “Unfortunately, this tradition has been violated in recent years by the government itself…”

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