| March 27
March 27 An environmental activist group has
filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
seeking new rules that would enhance job protection for
government scientists whose research questions the safety of
The action filed on Thursday by the Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility, an advocacy group for local, state
and federal researchers, came less than a week after a World
Health Organization group found the active ingredient in
Roundup, the world's best selling weed killer, is "probably
carcinogenic to humans." Roundup is made by Monsanto Co.
The petition to the USDA presses the agency to adopt
policies to prevent "political suppression or alteration of
studies and to lay out clear procedures for investigating
allegations of scientific misconduct."
According to the petition, some scientists working for the
federal government are finding their research restricted or
censored when it conflicts with agribusiness industry interests.
A USDA spokesman said the allegations have no merit and that
the agency values the integrity of its scientists and the
quality of their research.
PEER's executive director Jeff Ruch said on Friday that at
least 10 USDA scientists have been investigated or faced other
consequences arising from research that called into question the
safety of certain agricultural chemicals.
Ruch said his organization had received mounting complaints
over the last year from USDA scientists claiming they have been
ordered to retract studies, water down findings, remove their
names from authorship and experienced delays in approvals for
publication of research papers. The petition does not identify
any specific research or scientists.
"They have very little in the way of legal rights and have
career paths that are extremely vulnerable," Ruch said.
Research into glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's
Roundup herbicide, and neonicotinoid insecticides, which have
been linked to honey bee and monarch butterfly endangerment,
face particular scrutiny, Ruch said.
One senior scientist at the USDA's Agricultural Research
Service told Reuters he has experienced harassment and
"Your words are changed, your papers are censored or edited
or you are not allowed to submit them at all," said the
scientist, who asked not to be named.
(Reporting By Carey Gillam; Editing by David Greising, Toni