Tuesday, December 12, 2006

10,000+ US Scientists Condemn Political Interference

In the most widely supported professional protest of the Bush administration's abuse of scientific information to date, The Union of Concerned Scientists has gathered the signatures of over 10,000 members of the scientific community in a staggering rebuke:

Since the February 2004 release of the scientist statement speaking out against political interference in science and calling for the restoration of scientific integrity to policy making, a steady stream of scientists has expressed their concern by adding their signatures to the statement. Initially signed by 62 leading scientists, the statement now bears the signature of more than 10,000 scientists from all 50 states and several U.S. territories, including 52 Nobel laureates, 62 National Medal of Science winners, 194 members of the National Academies of Science, and science advisors to both Republican and Democratic presidents dating back to Eisenhower.

Their statement begins with the following ironic quote:

Science, like any field of endeavor, relies on freedom of inquiry; and one of the hallmarks of that freedom is objectivity. Now, more than ever, on issues ranging from climate change to AIDS research to genetic engineering to food additives, government relies on the impartial perspective of science for guidance.

President George H.W. Bush, April 23, 1990

And it goes on to severely chastise Bush Junior for his administration's political manipulation of the facts to suit his agenda:

Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world’s most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy. Although scientific input to the government is rarely the only factor in public policy decisions, this input should always be weighed from an objective and impartial perspective to avoid perilous consequences. Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle.


They condemn not only interference but incompetence, censorship and conflicts of interest in a wide variety of areas detailed in a 'periodic table' they have created to identify each concern specifically and are calling on other scientists to join their cause to bring integrity and accountability back to this government on issues ranging from the well-known Bush adminstration environmental report manipulations to food and health safety concerns.

It's unfortunate that this news release comes at a time when the US is overwhelmed by the problems in Iraq because it may not get the attention it so deserves. It hasn't been enough to simply keep reporting on these abuses as single events as they've piled up over the years while the scientific community has had a major battle on its hands to try to ensure that the public gets the facts it deserves on broad-ranging policy concerns that affect their everyday lives. Hopefully, the new Democratic congress will take notice and begin to reverse this trend as soon as possible.

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