At a conference on sugar and other sweeteners, medicine and epidemiology professor Adam Drewnowski challenged the World Health Organization's characterization of soft drinks as "energy-dense foods." He said that soft drinks' "high water content gives them the energy density of fresh carrots." Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, a think tank on food issues, organized the conference, which was sponsored by Coca-Cola's
"For nearly four years, and with rising intensity, scientists in and out of government have criticized the Bush administration, saying it has selected or suppressed research findings to suit preset policies, skewed advisory panels or ignored unwelcome advice, and quashed discussion within federal research agencies," reports Andrew Revkin. The clash has been especially intense and prolonged regarding the issue of global warming, where "scientists say that objective and relevant information is ignored or distorted in service of pre-established policy goals.
The controversial head of an obscure agency in the White House is a "lightening rod" for criticism of Bush administration regulatory actions. John D. Graham runs the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and is "known as a stickler for the bottom line," the Seattle Times' Alex Fryer writes. "Through rigorous analysis, Graham wants to create 'smart' regulation that protects the environment at lower cost. But it is a process fraught with subjectivity.
"The Data Quality Act -- written by an industry lobbyist and slipped into a giant appropriations bill in 2000 without congressional discussion or debate -- is just two sentences directing the [White House Office of Management and Budget] to ensure that all information disseminated by the federal government is reliable.
Gary Frazer, the Interior Department's "senior career official in the Endangered Species Office, which has produced several scientific findings angering his political superiors in the Fish and Wildlife Service, was reassigned last week to a newly created post as his division's liaison to the United States Geological Survey." Frazer's perhaps least admiring superior, Julie MacDonald,
In "the latest instance in which the Bush administration has been accused of allowing politics to intrude into once-sacrosanct areas of scientific deliberation," the Health and Human Services Department asked the World Health Organization to allow the Department's secretary to review meeting invitations.
"It's been pretty well established that publication bias is associated with industry funding," says Brown University epidemiologist Kay Dickersin, about drug companies squashing unfavorable research results. Yet the "overwhelming majority" of drug researchers receive industry funding, according to Canadian clinical pharmacist Muhammad Mamdani.
Secret documents reveal that British-American Tobacco has spent millions of pounds funding university research to back the controversial theory of "genetic predisposition," which argues that some people are more susceptible to lung cancer than others because they have "bad genes." The environmental group Gene Watch has obtained internal memos from BAT showing that research into "bad genes" was by far BAT's largest area of university funding in the early 1990s.
"EPA decisions now have a consistent pattern: disregard for inconvenient facts, a tilt toward industry, and a penchant for secrecy," said longtime Environmental Protection Agency official Eric Schaeffer, who quit the agency in protest in 2002. He was responding to a new decision to exempt wood products plants from controls on emissions of formaldehyde, a chemical linked to cancer and leukemia.
Popular Science writer William Weed "spent a day ... recording every scientific claim he encountered in stores, in ads, in newspapers and on TV, radio and the internet. Then he enlisted experts to help him evaluate their veracity." He concluded, "A good number were patently false. ...