USDA Must Protect Its Scientists

The Pollinator Stewardship Council    By Michele Colopy  May 5, 2015

["Seriously, this has happened and it is important for us to write to our Senators to Take Action." 
Bill Lewis, 2013-2014 President California State Beekeepers Association, Past President Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, Owner Bill's Bees]  

A recent article in Reuters ( ) stated USDA scientists are being harassed and their work is being censored or suppressed, especially work related to insecticides and herbicides. The USDA Inspector General’s office should conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and take necessary steps to ensure the USDA maintains scientific integrity by not interfering with the valuable work of its scientists.

All of the research the USDA conducts must maintain scientific integrity and transparency to ensure it is guiding science-based policy decisions. 

Scientific evidence has implicated insecticides as a leading driver of bee declines, and herbicides as a leading driver of the destruction of pollinator habitat.  Beekeepers, honey producers, and the crops pollinated by managed and native pollinators rely on USDA scientists to protect the health of our food supply.  Honey bees and native bees pollinate one third of the human diet.  For a sustainable and affordable food supply pollinators are key to crop yields, affordable food, and diverse nutritious food.

In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a citizen petition requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopt new policies to increase job protection for government scientists who question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. The petition urges the agency to adopt policies to specifically prevent the “political suppression or alteration of studies and lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations and of scientific misconduct.”

PEER found more than ten USDA scientists who have faced consequences or investigations, when their work called into question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. These scientists documented clear actions that violated their scientific integrity, including:
•    USDA officials retracting studies
•    watering down findings
•    removing scientists’ names from authorship
•    delaying approvals for publication of research papers.

The USDA must maintain scientific integrity, and not allow harassment, censorship or suppression of science-based findings.  Please join us in support of USDA scientists.  Email your Senator today urging the USDA Inspector General to take the necessary steps to ensure USDA maintains scientific integrity in the protection of the health and safety of the American public.

Thank you,
Michele Colopy
Program Director
The Pollinator Stewardship Council