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Date Added to website 19th July 2015


Remember that despicable and highly coordinated campaign to get the Seralini 2012 paper retracted by FCT journal? Where did the pressure come from? Of course it came primarily from Monsanto, working behind the scenes with its legion of tame scientists and government officials. Well, here is a new revelation. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, long-time supporter of Monsanto, put pressure on USDA scientists to assist in getting an "inconvenient" paper retracted, following pressure from industry representatives. Corrupt? Of course it is. Vilsack is an evil influence at the heart of government. We don't know which paper he tried to get retracted, since whistleblowers are generally scared and unwilling to be too specific, but Seralini et al (2012) is a reasonable bet.....

Details here:

The information below relates to a "Petition for Rulemaking" sent to Secretary Vilsack. It is well worth reading, for it reveals how scientific orthodoxy -- directed by political imperatives -- has taken the place of scientific integrity within USDA. The accusations made against Vilsack have of course been denied by Vilsack, and we gather that the Petition has been rejected out of hand. Not surprising really..........

To the Secretary of Agriculture:
Submitted by:
Jeff Ruch
Executive Director
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
2000 P Street, N.W. Suite 240
Washington, D.C. 20036

March 26, 2015


In a growing number of cases, USDA managers are interfering, intimidating, harassing, and in some cases punishing civil service scientists for doing work that has inconvenient implications for industry and could have direct policy/regulatory ramifications. For example, in recent months USDA scientists have been subjected to –
Directives not to publish data on certain topics of particular sensitivity to industry;
Orders to rewrite scientific articles already accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal to remove sections which could provoke industry objections;
Summons to meet with Secretary Vilsack in an effort to induce retraction of a paper that drew the ire of industry representatives;
Orders to retract a paper after it had been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The paper could only be published if the USDA scientist removed his authorship thus leaving only the names of authors unassociated with USDA;
Demotion from supervisory status and a reprimand after the scientist provided testimony before Congress that did not reflect agency preferences;
Disruptive and lengthy internal investigations to search out any irregularity that could be used for management leverage against the targeted scientist;
Suspensions without pay and other disciplinary actions for petty matters, such as minor irregularities in travel paperwork;
Inordinate, sometimes indefinite, delays in approving submission for publication of scientific papers that may be controversial;
Restrictions on topics that USDA scientists may address in conference presentations; and
Threats by USDA managers to damage the careers scientists whose work triggers industry complaints.



Agency Scientific Integrity Policy Riddled with Gags, Gaps and Loopholes

Posted by PEER on Mar 26, 2015

Washington, DC — Scientists within the U.S. Department of Agriculture are subjected to management pressure and retaliation for research threatening agribusiness interests, according to a rulemaking petition filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) seeking to strengthen the USDA Scientific Integrity Policy. The petition presses USDA to adopt “best practices” from other federal agencies’ scientific integrity policies to prevent political suppression or alteration of studies and to lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations of scientific misconduct and protecting whistleblowers.

Adopted in 2013 under a directive from President Obama, the USDA Scientific Integrity Policy declares that its purpose is “to ensure the highest level of integrity in all aspects” of agency scientific endeavors. But PEER contends the policy falls far short of this goal, pointing, for example, at a vague gag order constraining any scientific work with policy implications:

“…scientists should refrain from making statements that could be construed as being judgments of or recommendations on USDA or any other federal government policy, either intentionally or inadvertently.”

PEER has received reports concerning USDA scientists ordered to retract studies, water down findings, remove their name from authorship and endure long indefinite delays in approving publication of papers that may be controversial. Moreover, scientists who are targeted by industry complaints find themselves subjected to disruptive investigations, disapprovals of formerly routine requests, disciplinary actions over petty matters and intimidation from supervisors focused on pleasing “stakeholders.”

“A largely invisible and toothless Scientific Integrity Policy enables corporate influence over critical USDA scientific research decisions,” stated PEER Executive Jeff Ruch, noting the USDA policy promises a website to display case-specific and other information but no such site exists. “USDA’s scientific integrity program is like a black hole, allowing no information to escape and no light to penetrate.”

To close gaps and loopholes, the PEER petition proposes that USDA adopt model provisions that already exist in other agencies’ integrity policies governing the ability of scientists to publish and discuss research, contest decisions to block release of data, file and pursue complaints of political manipulation of studies and enjoy protection from reprisal for filing a complaint or engaging in research with potential political implications. The petition urges USDA to adopt a number of specific provisions in place within federal departments such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

“There is no reason why USDA scientists should labor under safeguards far inferior to those extended to their colleagues working inside other agencies,” Ruch added. “To earn public credibility for its scientific work, USDA needs to spell out procedures by which political influences can be policed and scientists protected while allowing outside review of its handling of allegations and disagreements.”

### Hyperlinks are available on the PEER web site.

Read the PEER rulemaking petition

See the USDA Scientific Integrity Policy

View comparison of agency scientific integrity policies