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From: TSS (
Subject: Science and the Bush Administration
Date: September 23, 2004 at 2:12 pm PST

Science and the Bush Administration

Science, Vol 305, Issue 5692, 1873 , 24 September 2004

David Baltimore*

In various ways, the scientific community in the United States--and in other nations as well--has expressed concern about the way in which decisions about scientific issues have been subjected to political tests by the Bush administration. For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), in a statement that I signed along with many others, said in pertinent part: "When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions." The UCS and John H. Marburger III, President Bush's science advisor, have continued to trade charge and countercharge. Now a committee of the National Academies is examining some of the issues at stake, including the important matter of criteria for appointing scientists to government posts and advisory committees.

I leave this unfinished debate in those capable hands. But as we approach the election, it is important to examine the most critical issues at the interface of science and politics in the determination of public policy. And on several of these issues, a new pattern of behavior by the administration is becoming clear. The sequence is as follows: A government position is taken on a matter of scientific importance; policy directions are announced and scientific justifications for those policies are offered; strong objections from scientists follow; the scientific rationale is then abandoned or changed, but the policies based on that science remain, stuck in the same place.

U.S. policy with respect to HIV/AIDS is a case in point. The virus is spreading at an alarming rate, devastating Africa and now making horrifying inroads into the teeming continent of Asia. Stopping the spread, especially among the youngest and most productive members of society, should be the highest international priority. With a vaccine far in the future, stemming the tide requires that we educate people to protect themselves; and although abstinence and fidelity prevent exposure to HIV, under most circumstances the only safe and effective protection is condoms.

Initially, the Bush administration gave scant recognition to the protective value of condom use. The Centers for Disease Control Web site (which was once changed to suggest, incorrectly, a possible relation between abortion history and breast cancer) contains a confusing mixture: some emphasis on condom failure rates and a plug for abstinence. Complaints apparently led to the addition of a positive statement about condom effectiveness. The U.S. Agency for International Development now promotes condom use. But the emphasis is on use in selected target populations, although the value of much more widespread use has been demonstrated repeatedly in scientific studies.

Climate change has had a similar history. Repeated administration statements questioned the science behind the position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the global warming seen in the past 100 years is associated with human activity. Now, at last, comes a statement from an interagency administration committee, signed by cabinet secretaries, confirming the IPCC position. In the policy domain, however, we still have a long-range research program aimed toward a "hydrogen economy," but no commitment to current mitigation of this growing crisis.

As for stem cells, the arbitrary decision to restrict federally supported research to the few cell lines available before the president's statement in 2001 still holds. After sustained criticism from the scientific community, the administration has conceded that the research is valuable. It has made funding available for research but nevertheless maintains the cell line restriction. And it supports legislation that would criminalize research involving nuclear transfer from somatic donor cells--work focused on making stem cell research more valuable, both therapeutically and experimentally.

In these cases, either religious conservatism or economically based political caution has played a determining role in administration policy. However, it looks as though the criticism from individual scientists and from the UCS has been influential in causing the administration to be more honest about the underlying science. We should welcome this new posture. Nevertheless, although the realities of the science may be better accepted, the policy implications are still being ignored. Our goal now should be to have the policies track the science.

David Baltimore is president of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.
Volume 305, Number 5692, Issue of 24 Sep 2004, p. 1873.
Copyright © 2004 by The American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.

July 13, 2004

IG Audit Finds Multiple Flaws in Mad Cow Surveillance Plan
Rep. Waxman raises questions about the effectiveness and credibility of
USDA's response to mad cow disease, citing an audit by the USDA
Inspector General that finds systemic deficiencies in the Department's
surveillance plan and new evidence that USDA misled the public in the
wake of the detection of an infected cow in Washington State.

- Letter to USDA

IG Draft Audit

May 13, 2004

Failure To Test Staggering Cow May Reflect Wider Problems
Rep. Waxman raises concerns that the recent failure of USDA to test an
impaired cow for BSE may not be an isolated incident, citing the failure
of USDA to monitor whether cows condemned for central nervous system
symptoms are actually tested for mad cow disease.

- Letter to USDA



No mad cow results for nearly 500 cows

By Steve Mitchell
United Press International
Published 8/11/2004 11:23 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture failed
to test for mad cow disease or collect the correct portion of the brain
on nearly 500 suspect cows over the past two years -- including some in
categories considered most likely to be infected -- according to agency
records obtained by United Press International.

The testing problems mean it may never be known with certainty whether
these animals were infected with the deadly disease. Department
officials said these animals were not included in the agency's final
tally of mad cow tests, but the records, obtained by UPI under the
Freedom of Information Act, indicate at least some of them were counted...



Steve Mitchell is UPI's Medical Correspondent. E-mail
Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press International

SUPPRESSED PEER REVIEW OF HARVARD BSE RISK ASSESSMENT bought and paid for by your local cattle dealer
(USDA $800,000.)



Senator Michael Machado from California

''USDA does not know what's going on''.

''USDA is protecting the industry''.

''SHOULD the state of California step in''

Stanley Prusiner

''nobody has ever ask us to comment''

''they don't want us to comment''

''they never ask''

i tried to see Venemon, after Candian cow was discovered with BSE.
went to see lyle. after talking with him... absolute ignorance... then thought i should see Venemon... it was clear his entire policy was to get cattle boneless beef prods across the border... nothing else mattered... his aids confirmed this... 5 times i tried to see Venemon, never worked... eventually met with carl rove the political... he is the one that arranged meetingwith Venemon... just trying to give you a sense of the distance... healh public safety... was never contacted... yes i believe that prions are bad to eat and you can die from them...END

Dr. Stan bashing Ann Veneman - 3 minutes

Recall Authority and Mad Cow Disease: Is the Current System Good for

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Choose a RealPlayer video --->
Selected excerpts:

Opening Statement by Senator Michael Machado

Elisa Odibashian - Consumers Union

Anthony Iton - Alemeda County Health

USDA's "memorandum of understanding"

Dave Louthan - Killed the Mad Cow

Dennis Laycraft - Canadian Cattlemen's Association

Stanley Prusiner - Discoverer of Prions

Steven DeArmond - Professor of Neuropathology


Cattlemen's Corner Industry Leader Ann M. Veneman, Secretary of

AMEN! they finally got it right, she is indeed the industry leader and
the industry has her right where they want her, right in there pocket$
at the same time she is suppose to protect and have the best interest
of the US public in mind, i thought. however, this is not the case.

along with her bipartisan approach to solving problems and

confronting new challenges, are reasons that explain why

she was chosen by President George W. Bush

i hate to repeat myself, but facts are facts, and here are a few of them
again. i know this irritates a few on this list, but i must document this
stuff for future use. please just delete if it irritates you;

with that said, let us look at the BSE/TSE issue alone;




What has happened in USDA goes beyond a process of capture intended to
restrict competition. Thanks to its political influence, Big
Agribusiness has been
able to pack USDA with appointees who have a background of working in the
industry, lobbying for it, or performing research or other functions
on its behalf. These appointees have helped to implement policies that
undermine the regulatory mission of USDA in favor of the bottom-line
of agribusiness. In other words, public health and livelihoods are at
To see that agribusiness has packed USDA with its apparent representatives,
one has only to look at the biographies on the Departments website of
its roughly 45 top
officials, including the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretaries,
Assistant S
ecretaries, Deputy Under Secretaries, Deputy Assistant Secretaries and
heads of key
offices. Many of the biographies cite previous work with agribusiness
companies and their
trade associations, lobbying firms and research arms, including university
research centers bankrolled by the food industry. Additional research
makes clear that there are approximately as many industry people among the
appointees as there are career civil servants.
Here are some examples of appointees with past industry ties (unless
otherwise noted, the source for each affiliation is the individuals
biography on the USDA website):

Secretary ANN M. VENEMAN served on the board of biotech company Calgene.7

Secretary Venemans chief of staff DALE MOORE was executive director for
affairs of the National Cattlemens Beef Association (NCBA), a trade
association heavily
supported by and aligned with the interests of the big meatpacking

Venemans recently named Deputy Chief of Staff, MICHAEL TORREY, was a
vice president
at the International Dairy Foods Association.8

Director of Communications ALISA HARRISON was formerly executive
director of public relations at NCBA.

Deputy Secretary JAMES MOSELEY was a partner in Infinity Pork LLC, a
factory farm in Indiana.9

Under Secretary J.B. PENN was an executive of Sparks Companies, an
agribusiness consulting firm.

Under Secretary ELSA A. MURANO conducted industry-sponsored research
while a university professor (see below).

Under Secretary JOSEPH JEN was director of research at Campbell Soup
Companys Campbell Institute of Research and Technology.

Deputy Under Secretary FLOYD D. GAIBLER was executive director of the
National Cheese Institute and the American Butter Institute, which are
funded by
the dairy industry.

Deputy Under Secretary KATE COLER was director of government relations
for the Food Marketing Institute.


Deputy Under Secretary CHARLES LAMBERT spent 15 years working for NCBA.

Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations MARY WATERS was a
senior director and legislative counsel for ConAgra Foods.

Industry infiltration also extends to USDAs non-food areas. For
example, Mark E. Rey, the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the
who oversees the Forest Service, was previously a vice president of the
American Forest
and Paper Association.10 By contrast, there are virtually no
associations with family farm,
consumer or environmental groups to be found among the appointees. The
allies of Big
Agribusiness have a tight lock on the main food policy arm of the
federal government.


In addition to previous affiliations with food processing
giants such as ConAgra, many of USDAs top
appointees used to be affiliated with producer groups
such as the National Cattlemens Beef Association and
the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). These
organizations have close ties with the big agri-food
corporations. Such corporations can join NPPC
through the Councils Pork Alliance, which is represented
on NPPCs board of directors.11 NPPC
acknowledges that the dues paid by corporate members
(among which are Cargill and Monsanto) are
used to fund critical industry priorities in the legislative
and regulatory areas. NCBA has an Allied
Industry Partners program with several categories of
membership, depending on the level of financial support
provided by a company. Bigger contributors
(which here, too, include Cargill and Monsanto) and
are eligible to join the Allied Industry Council, which
has representation on NCBAs board of directors.12
NCBA, in fact, was created in 1996 through the merger
of the National Cattlemens Association and the
National Livestock and Meat Board (including its Beef
Industry Council), which put producers and processors
under the same roof.13
Given these relationships, it is not surprising that
groups such as NPPC and NCBA consistently side
with the interests of the big processors and ignore the
interests of small producers. This rift between small
and large producers has been most apparent in the
controversy over mandatory federal promotion and
The increasing dominance of
USDA policymaking by
agribusiness interests and
personnel can be traced to two
sources: the growing concentration
of ownership in food production
and processing, and the growing
political influence exercised by the
large players in the industry.



Since the late 1980s, the world beef industry has
contended with a threat called bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), more popularly known as
mad cow disease. The problem was originally concentrated
in Britain, where at least 141 people have
died since a variation of the disease spread to
humans.21 For more than a decade, Americans
thought that BSE was mainly a European problem.
U.S. consumers continued to consume prodigious
quantities of beef and accepted assurances from federal
officials that everything was being done to prevent
the disease from infecting domestic herds.
That confidence began erode in May 2003,
when a BSE-infected cow was found in the
Canadian province of Alberta, prompting the U.S.
government to suspend beef imports from our
neighbor to the north. Japan and South Korea
demanded that all beef they bought from the U.S. be
labeled as born, raised and processed in the United
States. USDA refused such labeling, insisting to
those countries, as it had to U.S. consumers, that
existing rules were sufficient for safety and confidence
in the food supply.
The bigger shock came in December 2003, when the first cow in the
United States tested positive for BSE. For several days, during which
the beef
market crashed, USDA withheld the fact that the cow was from Canada.
Countries such as Japan and South Korea wasted no time in banning U.S.
imports, yet Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and other department
insisted that the diseased Holstein in Washington State was an isolated
and that they were acting quickly to address the issue for the North
American herd. Veneman made a show of saying that she intended to serve
beef to her family at Christmas. About a week after the BSE discovery, USDA
announced that it would impose some of the stricter rules that
independent analysts
had long been advocating. These included a prohibition on the use of
downer cows (those unable to walk because of injury or illness) and a
ban on the use of certain body parts (such as brains and spinal cords,
which are
most likely to harbor BSE). The latter applied only to cows older than
30 months.
The downer cow policy came as a surprise to most Americans, who
had no idea that their hamburgers may have come from crippled animals.
Yet, for more than a decade, the beef processing industry had successfully
thwarted efforts in Congress to ban the practice.
"At a time when [USDA] should be
bending over backward to reassure
customers, it keeps taking actions
that suggest more concern with
protecting the financial interests of
the beef industry than with
protecting public health...No one
can be confident if the department
remains so blatantly protective of
the American meat industry."
Despite the level of public concern in the
wake of the Washington State
BSE discovery, the industry
was not prepared to accede to new rules,
such as the testing of all
cattle for BSE, country-of-origin
labeling and a ban on using cattle remains
in the production of animal
feed. In early January the
chief lobbyist of the National Cattlemens
Beef Association (NCBA)
declared: Were not about to let
the federal government come in here and
overregulate at a time when they
think they ought to do
As it turned out, the NCBA had little to worry about. USDA wrapped up
its investigation of the Washington State BSE case in only seven weeks,
after having failed to find almost two-thirds of the
80 cattle that entered the United States from Canada with the infected
Holstein. W. Ron DeHaven, chief veterinary officer of USDA, declared:
Its time to move on.23 The rigor of USDAs investigation came under
Congressional scrutiny shortly thereafter, when a report by the House
Committee on Government Reform, citing three eyewitnesses, disputed USDAs
claim that the infected cow was a downer. Committee Chairman Thomas M.
Davis III (R-VA) and ranking Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman of California
wrote to Secretary Veneman, stating that the new evidence could have
implications for both the adequacy of the national [mad cow] surveillance
system and the credibility of the USDA.24 Under pressure such as this,
USDA reluctantly agreed to expand its testing program a bit more, but it
resisted the more aggressive measures that were widely advocated outside
Department and the beef industry. USDA also continued to deny that
country-of-origin labeling would help re-establish export markets
and consumer confidencedespite the certification requested by Japan and
South Korea. Consumer surveys showed a strong preference for
labeling. World Animal Health Organization rules state that a country
can maintain
BSE free status if an infected animal is proven to be imported. But
Tyson, Cargill,
and Swiftwhich have large meatpacking and production operations
in Canada, Australia, Argentina and other countriesdid not want to
identify the source of the meat they sold to consumers. USDA, as a
result, adamantly
refused to change it position on labeling. USDAs inclination to put the
interests of the
big meatpackers ahead of public safety was so strong that the Department
went on the
attack against a small maverick beef company. Kansas-based Creekstone
Farms operates
what is reputedly an ultramodern plant and has sold premium meat to
customers in places as far away as Russia. Realizing that its business
would be crippled unless foreign customers were assured that its product
was free of BSE,
Creekstone spent more than $500,000 to install its own BSE testing
laboratorythe first in a
U.S. slaughterhouseto test every head of cattle it slaughtered. The
company hired seven
chemists and biologists to operate the facility. Rather than praising
Creekstone for its initiative,
USDA prevented the company from operating the lab by refusing to sell it
necessary testing
materials, domestic distribution of which is controlled by the federal
government. In a position
that was supported by NCBA,25 USDA insisted that its own policy
of limited testing was the only acceptable one and that allowing
Creekstone to do comprehensive testing might lead consumers to think
that meat from
other companies was not safe. USDA also claimed that false positive
results for BSE could
have a negative impact on cattle and beef markets.
The inadequacy of USDAs regulatory approach has become even clearer
with some recent events. In May there were reports that a cow with evidence
of neurological problems (which is considered to be a marker of higher
risk of BSE)
was discovered at a Lone Star Beef slaughterhouse in Texas, yet it
was not tested for BSE. The animal was removed from the meat production
line but was sent to a rendering plant to be made into animal feed,
which could
allow a BSE infection to return to the human food supply. USDA could not
how this animal slipped through its supposedly strengthened testing
Revelations such as these prompted the New York Times to editorialize:
At a time when [USDA] should be bending over backward to reassure
it keeps taking actions that suggest more concern with protecting the
financial interests
of the beef industry than with protecting public health&No one can be
confident if the
department remains so blatantly protective of the American meat
It then came to light that, in September 2003, USDA had allowed
meatpackers to resume imports of some meat products from Canada that were
prohibited by an August 2003 regulation that responded to the discovery
of BSE in
that country. Over a six month period, more than 30 million
pounds of ground beef and other high-risk beef products were brought
into the country. The willingness of USDA to take this reckless secret
action can
only be interpreted as another example of an agency totally subservient
to the interests
of industry. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) was so outraged
that he urged President Bush to ask for the resignation of Secretary
Veneman (whose spokeswoman claimed the Secretary knew nothing
about the imports), adding that the public deserved to know
who may have benefited from favored treatment, and why.27



full text worth reading;

YEP, since GW et al took office, not one single FOIA request
has been granted that i requested about TSE and the feed ban
violations and downers and such. I guess if we get 4 more years
of these same lies, the agent will continue to spread...TSS

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