Radically Inept
Monday, August 02, 2004
  Another case of having to follow the money?

Andrew Pollack in The New York Times > Science > Panel Sees No Unique Risk From Genetic Engineering reports that:
Genetically engineered crops do not pose health risks that cannot also arise from crops created by other techniques, including conventional breeding, the National Academy of Sciences said in a report issued yesterday.

The conclusion backs the basic approach now underlying government oversight of biotech foods, that special food safety regulations are not needed just because foods are genetically engineered.

Nevertheless, the report said that genetic engineering and other techniques used to create novel crops could result in unintended, harmful changes to the composition of food, and that scrutiny of such crops should be tightened before they go to market.

"The most important message from this report is that it's the product that matters, not the system you are using to produce it," Jennifer Hillard, a consumer advocate from Canada who was on the committee that wrote the report, said in a telephone news conference. Committee members said the genetically engineered foods already on the market are safe.

The study, "Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects," is somewhat vague on how regulations should change, but rather deals more with the science needed to determine whether food from genetically engineered crops and animals might be harmful.

It does not, for instance, explicitly recommend mandatory reviews of new genetically engineered foods by the Food and Drug Administration. It says that assessments should be made on a case-by-case basis. Right now, companies that create such crops voluntarily consult with the F.D.A.

The report suggests that in some cases, surveillance might be needed after a food gets to the market to check for possible health effects, something not done now. It also calls for some information on the composition of genetically modified foods to be made public rather than kept proprietary.

Both sides in the polarized debate about genetically engineered foods found things to like and not like in the report.

"They've clearly identified that there are significant problems with our technological ability to both identify changes that might happen in G.E. crops as well as to evaluate what those changes might mean," said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, which opposes biotech crops.
All of which I could live with, except for the fact that the Baby Bush administration doesn't mind twisting the arms of scientifists to get the results they want, or just restaking the members on scientific committees to ensure they get the answer they want. That answer almost always favors big money, and when it doesn't, it represents the ignorant christian fundalmentalist wing of the republican party.

I mean how much can I trust anything coming out Washington today? Just check out stuff like this,Suspicious science: More scientists accuse Bush of manipulation:
"The distrust of Bush administration motives now runs so deep in the scientific community that the National Academy of Sciences has begun studying whether it's proper to consider politics and points of view in the appointment of scientists to federal advisory committees.

Perhaps scientists are obligated to frame such an inquiry with neutral language like 'whether it's proper.' Common sense suggests not only that it is grossly improper, but also that it could be very dangerous to allow any administration, Republican or Democrat, to manipulate the personnel or data associated with government research to make it support preconceived policy objectives.

A moment's clear thought is all it takes to recognize the danger. Scientists take great pains to avoid introducing anything into their research that could prejudice its outcome. It is precisely the ability of other independent scientists to replicate that outcome that sustains or refutes the original researcher's insights - and integrity.

Much more than partisan policy formulation is at stake here. The charges leveled against the Bush administration by scientists who have served on current advisory committees contain serious implications for the health, safety and environment of all Americans."
Or maybe this oneWhite House seen tampering with government advice, "White House seen tampering with government advice", By JEFF NESMITH,
The Bush administration has repeatedly imposed ideological and political litmus tests on people being considered for membership on hundreds of government advisory panels, witnesses told a committee of the National Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.

In a daylong hearing, the committee responsible for ensuring the best government science and technology heard charges repeated that crucial advice to government agencies is increasingly skewed because of White House selection of scientific advisers with supportive views on lightning-rod issues like birth control, stem cell research and climate change.

Two members of Congress, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., testified with slightly different views, however.
'There should be no question that appointments should be made on the basis of scientific expertise and not politics,' said Waxman, a liberal California Democrat who maintains a Web page devoted to criticizing Bush administration science policies.

'There should be no role whatsoever for ideological or partisan litmus tests,' he added.

But Rep. Ehlers, a former research physicist, said members of the advisory committees do not serve in 'vacuums.'"

"Government officials must understand science, its methods and limits," he said. "Scientists must study the policy process and willingly participate."

He said this means scientists who serve on the advisory panels "must be in touch, even in tune, with the political realities around them."
Bet that's exactly what the catholic church told Copernicus and Galileo, "you must be in touch, even in tune, with the political realities around you" or die.

So, how much faith can I put in a report that has big business interests on one side, the Baby Bush adminstration on the otherside and scientists in the middle.

I can hear the scientists now, singing in a pub somewhere on M Street
Well I don't know why I came here tonight
I got the feeling that something ain't
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair
And I'm wondering how I'll get down
the stairs
Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you

Yes I am stuck in the middle with you
And I'm wondering what it is I should
It's so hard to keep this smile from my
Losing control, Yeah I'm all over the place

Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you..."
by Gerry Rafferty 
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