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[GreenYes] Junk Science Redux
from the Gallon Environment Letter.


 University and government scientists studying health threats associated
with agricultural pollution say they are harassed by farmers and trade
groups and silenced by government and university superiors afraid to offend
the powerful farm industry. The heat comes from individual farmers,
commodity groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which finances and
controls much of the research. And the pressure is growing, some scientists
say. "It's rampant," said JoAnn Burkholder, an acclaimed aquatic botanist
trained at Iowa State University who received death threats after warning
North Carolina parents not to let their children wade in a manure- polluted
stream. Scientists in Iowa and other states say that the US Department of
Agriculture (USDA) kills controversial research by forcing it through an
extended approval process. The agency also keeps researchers from
publicizing sensitive findings in scientific journals and at public meetings
and cooperates with industry groups to suppress research results that don't
meet the groups' satisfaction, they charge. Burkholder, said, "I have seen
some very sad practices in this country. Industry has a stranglehold on
environmental issues to the point that this muzzling goes on all the time."
Those brave enough to speak out usually have secure jobs at universities or,
like Zahn, leave the public arena. James Zahn (a former federal swine
researcher in Ames, Iowa) said his superiors wouldn't let him submit for
publication perhaps one of his most important findings - that the air
emitted by hog confinements contained potentially health-threatening
antibiotic-resistant bacteria- and several times refused invitations for him
to speak about his findings. Zahn also was uncomfortable that an "advisory
panel" of hog farmers, assembled by the USDA, watched over the lab's work.
In fact, national pork groups have at times had offices in the same
government buildings as the USDA labs. "No other government agency ever had
this hand-holding relationship with a livestock group," Zahn said after he
quit the USDA job. "Your career could be over," he said. Source, "Ag
Scientists Feel the Heat," by Perry Beeman, The Register, Ames, Iowa,
December 1, 2002.
Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011
Cell    (608) 438-9062

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