August 19, 2019

Endangered Species Act: Reviewing the Nexus of Science and Policy

Purpose

On October 13, 2011, the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight will hold a hearing on the nexus of science and policy related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 1. The purpose of the hearing is to highlight the combination of science and policy decisions that are made under the ESA. Numerous judicial disputes over
ESA-related actions highlight the challenges in weighing best available science against other policy considerations, often under short deadlines. Congress has frequently considered changes to the ESA as a whole, and has also enacted species-specific ESA legislation, most recently with 2011 legislation concerning the grey
wolf. 2

Although the ESA is designed to protect species, its application is most visible when federally imposed plans to protect and recover a species restrict the actions of private citizens and other entities. For example, landowners may not be able to use their property in a manner they had planned and farmers may not be able to use as much of a river’s water as they need. Since takings claims are rarely successful, the science used to make ESA decisions is critical. <<<Read and Download Entire Report>>>

Share

Fast Food Giant McDonald’s is Pressured to Promote Sound Science Regarding Food Safety and Potential of GMOs

National Center for Public Policy Research Presents Shareholder Resolution Saying Corporate America Faces Grave Risks if it Disengages from Food Safety Debate

Nation’s Leading Burger Chain Deflects Responsibility – Suggests Government, Not Private Sector, Should Educate Consumers About Food and Health Issues

National Center Calls Response of McDonald’s “Inane”

Oak Brook, IL/Washington, DC – At today’s annual shareholder meeting of McDonald’s in Oak Brook, Illinois, the National Center for Public Policy Research presented a shareholder resolution urging the worldwide burger chain to increase its efforts to educate consumers about the safety and benefits linked to the use of genetically modified organisms in its products. The company’s management, however, disavowed any responsibility in educating the public about its products.

“The reluctance of McDonald’s to defend GM foods highlights a major reason why the public is so ill-informed about this issue,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “Relying on the government to educate consumers is a sure-fire way to ensure the public remains ignorant. The government’s responsibility for food inspection and safety is fine, but when it comes to educating the public, its track record is abysmal.”

Danhof also observed demonstrators urging McDonald’s to increase its lowest wage to $15 per hour, noting the demonstrators had luxurious coach buses and expensive signage.

“It looked to me like a classic case of astroturf,” said Danhof. “Perhaps if liberal governments and municipalities hadn’t already artificially raised their minimum wage to prices not dictated by market forces, these demonstrators would have been on the job somewhere rather than serving as a mouthpiece for Big Labor.”

At the meeting, Danhof presented a shareholder proposal, submitted by National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour. He noted:

Our proposal asks the company to defend its products and promote the safety and benefit of Genetically Modified Organisms. Companies whose products may contain GMOs, such as McDonald’s, are harmed by the public’s ignorance on the issue.

With more than 2,000 global scientific studies on genetically engineered foods, the evidence is clear; GMOs are perfectly safe. The debate is over. Despite this scientific consensus, anti-GMO activists… continue to sow fear and doubt. Their actions are ignorant and inhumane. Polling data shows that nearly four in ten Americans are misinformed about GMO safety and more than nine in ten are not aware of the unnecessary cost and unscientific rationale of GMO labeling. That ignorance harms the company and the developing world where malnutrition is sometimes exacerbated by resistance to GMO technology.

To read Danhof’s full statement, as prepared for delivery, click here.

The National Center’s proposal pointed out the humanitarian need for advanced technologies to boost worldwide agricultural output, stating:

According to the World Health Programme, approximately 805 million people do not have enough food to eat. Lack of proper nutrition is responsible for 45 percent of the deaths worldwide in children under five… according to the World Health Organization, “the development of GM organisms (GMOs) offers the potential for increased agricultural productivity or improved nutritional value that can contribute directly to enhancing human health and development.”

GMO foods are a great gift to mankind. They lower food costs, allow farmers to produce food in a more sustainable way and show great promise for ending world hunger and malnutrition. The Company should be more pro-active in delivering that positive message of GMOs.

The National Center’s proposal is available on page 50 of the proxy statement issued by McDonald’s.

The board of directors of McDonald’s opposed the proposal, by stating,

The issues raised in the proposal are complex, and reach far beyond McDonald’s role as a purchaser of food products to implement. The Board believes education efforts and reporting in this regard should be the responsibility of scientific, regulatory and government agencies… We believe that it is not the Company’s role to educate the American people on the benefits of genetically modified ingredients and the potential of genetically modified crops to alleviate worldwide hunger.

“This is perhaps the most inane, tepid statement ever issued by a corporate board,” said Danhof. “McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable food brands in the world. With those trillion-plus meals served comes responsibility. And when it comes to the issue of GMOs and worldwide hunger, McDonald’s has a humane responsibility. As the world’s population continues to climb, and malnutrition and death result due to a lack of adequate food resources, I hope the McDonald’s board of directors may some day realize and make amends for their decision to sit on the sidelines of the GMO debate.”

In April, Danhof attended the annual meeting of Coca-Cola shareholders in Atlanta, Georgia and similarly urged the beverage giant to increase its efforts to promote sound science in general and GMOs in particular. In reply, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent agreed that the food and beverage industry has an important role stating, “we firmly believe that there is – that the only way that we can combat some of these matters that you’ve just talked about is again, that golden triangle of government – not relying solely on government though, business, and civil society organizations like yours, public policy think-tanks like yours, coming together and talking about how we have more sound science, how we can have better science and how we can collaborate more to make sure that consumers are better educated.”

A video of the exchange between Danhof and Kent is available by clicking here.

In 2014, National Center representatives spoke with many major food companies about doing more to engage the public in the debate over GMOs. On three occasions, the National Center urged investors to reject unscientific shareholder resolutions concerning GMO labeling. After National Center representatives explained the safety and promise of GMOs, shareholders of Safeway, Monsanto and General Mills each rejected proposals regarding mandatory GMO-labeling.

To read more of Danhof’s writings on GMOs, click here. You can also watch Danhof debate the GMO issue with liberal talk radio host Thom Hartmann here.

A preliminary vote showed the National Center/Amy Ridenour proposal did not receive enough votes to pass.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. So far in 2014-15, National Center representatives have participated in 68 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

-30-

Background Information on GMOs:

Numerous scientific bodies have determined that GMO foods are safe, including: The National Academy of Sciences (“no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population”), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (“the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe”), the American Medical Association (“bioengineered foods have been consumed for… 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature”), the Royal Society of Medicine (“There is no reason to doubt the safety of foods made from GM ingredients that are currently available, nor to believe that genetic modification makes foods inherently less safe than their conventional counterparts”) and the World Health Organization (“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved”).

The European Union spent ten years and hundreds of millions of Euros to exhaustively examine GMOs, determining: “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.” Scientific American reported: “the delayed application of Golden Rice in India alone has cost 1,424,000 life years since 2002. That odd sounding metric – not just lives but ‘life years’ – accounts not only for those who died, but also for the blindness and other health disabilities that Vitamin A deficiency causes. The majority of those who went blind or died because they did not have access to Golden Rice were children.”

Share

Revitalizing The Information Quality Act as a Procedural Cure For Unsound Regulatory Science: A Greenhouse Gas Rulemaking Case Study

Lawrence A. Kogan, Esq.
Introduction – Dr. John D. Graham, Indiana University
Foreword – Jim J. Tozzi, Center for Regulatory Effectiveness

Executive Summary:

Congress passed the Information Quality Act (IQA) in 2000 to implement and amend the Paperwork Reduction Act. The law requires federal agencies to ensure the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the scientific, technical, and statistical information that federal agencies adopt and disseminate to the public. Although the law is nominally a procedural statute, this WORKING PAPER explains how regulated entities and other stakeholders can successfully seek judicial enforcement of the IQA when agencies rely upon flawed science for federal rules, and those rules impose paperwork, compliance, and other burdens.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for implementing the IQA. OMB’s IQA Guidelines required that each federal agency develop and adhere to their own IQA guidelines, and set out minimum criteria for scientific peer review of agency-drafted and third-party studies and scientific assessments, as well as criteria for the selection of peer reviewers. OMB dictated that these peer-review standards be especially rigorous for “highly influential scientific assessments.” Federal agencies must also provide an administrative review mechanism that will allow affected entities to seek correction of agency-disseminated information that was not adequately validated. Agencies routinely carry out this mandate by addressing requests for correction as part of their responses to public comments in a final regulation—an approach, the paper argues, that does not afford sufficient due process to stakeholders.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 greenhouse gas Endangerment Findings, and the decision-making process underlying them, offers an instructive IQA case study. A review of the extensive record and the peer review activities underlying the Findings reveals extensive violations of conflict-of-interest and other IQA-related standards. EPA also did not consider stakeholders’ challenges regarding these violations in a timely or sufficiently specialized manner. Stakeholders’ requests for reconsideration of the Findings were also rejected.

Stakeholders faced with such adverse, final agency actions would traditionally consider legal action against the responsible federal agency. As the WORKING PAPER explains, however, federal courts have been generally skeptical of regulated entities’ private causes of action to redress agencies’ noncompliance with IQA standards. Those complaints have foundered on plaintiffs’ standing to sue, as well as their assertion of a positive right to properly peer-reviewed government information.

This paper proposes an alternative approach to judicial enforcement of the IQA, one which addresses past lawsuits’ shortcomings. It explains this alternative approach in the context of a challenge to EPA’s violation of IQA during its development of the Endangerment Findings. The contemplated cause of action is based on the theory that Congress intended that the IQA, as an implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act, protect the negative right of a designated class of persons not to be burdened, financially or otherwise, by poor quality science that agencies disseminate in support of major regulations. The lawsuit would formally be brought as an action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Private entities, such as regulated businesses could establish standing to sue based on the particularized economic injuries they have suffered from regulatory burdens. State governments could take advantage of U.S. Supreme Court precedents that convey standing Copyright © 2015 Washington Legal Foundation ixunder the doctrine of parens patriae when such public actors are suing in their quasi-sovereign capacity. A narrowly-pled, factually-supported challenge utilizing the APA would not only be consistent with the longstanding presumption that Congress intends judicial review of administrative action, but it would also be sufficient to overcome some federal courts’ presumption against implied causes of action.

Fueled by decades of ineffective oversight, federal agencies’ respect for science and the scientific process has severely diminished. For that reason, one can easily foresee many potential applications of the enforcement framework offered in this paper. Other actions by EPA where stakeholders have strongly questioned the supporting science could be particularly inviting targets as well. They include: EPA’s “Waters of the United States” proposal; its social cost of carbon proposal; its proposed ozone regulations; its NEPA review of the Keystone XL pipeline; its study on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing; and EPA and NOAA disapproval of state coastal nonpoint pollution control programs. Another possible target could be the Fish and Wildlife Service’s threatened or endangered species designations.<<<Get Full Study>>>

Share

How Many Wolves Decided by Science or Politics?

“Romson said that politics rather than science has underpinned the decision to keep the national minimum population at 270 wolves. She is also critical of the fact that the size was determined through a vote in parliament. “The question is if parliament should decide this matter. That runs counter to previous praxis. We believe that science should determine the minimum size,” Romson said.”<<<Read More>>>

Share

Maine Bear Hunting Poll Question

The Bangor Daily News has an article about the debate over the upcoming referendum to effectively end bear hunting in Maine. The article discusses science versus ethics. In addition there is a poll question that mimics the one that will appear on the ballot in November: “Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?”

Share

Testing and Exposing Fake Science Articles

If what is going on with “journalism” and the need to prop up political ideologue and justify “results” for those funding fake science, is the norm, what’s to be said about the destruction of real academia and scientific research? Is this also a planned event?

At JunkScience, there’s an article that exposes where one man deliberately wrote a fake article. It was published, evidently without scrutiny, all to prove a point.

Sokal’s hoax served a public purpose, to attract attention to what Sokal saw as a decline of standards of rigor in the academic community, and for that reason it was unmasked immediately by the author himself.

Share

NASA Will CREATE Coldest Spot on Earth

The technology, which would allow such experiments, includes an atom chip with on-window wires that enable simultaneous magnetic trapping and optical manipulation, in addition to compound silicon and glass substrate technology that leads to both magnetic and optical control of ultra-cold atoms.

The Cold Atom Lab, which actually is designed “for use by multiple investigators” and is “upgradable and maintainable on orbit,” is scheduled to be launched inside the ISS in early 2016, where it will be able to function for 5 years.<<<Read More>>>

Hmmmmmm? I wonder what they can accomplish in terrestrial temperature manipulations?

Share

Richard Lindzen on Climate Scientists: “the brightest minds went into physics, math, chemistry…”

“I’ve asked very frequently at universities: ‘Of the brightest people you know, how many people were studying climate […or meteorology or oceanography…]?’ And the answer is usually ‘No one.'”

And – warming to his theme:

“You look at the credentials of some of these people [on the IPCC] and you realise that the world doesn’t have that many experts, that many ‘leading climate scientists'”.

Was Lindzen suggesting, asked Tim Yeo at this point, that scientists in the field of climate were academically inferior.

“Oh yeah,” said Lindzen. “I don’t think there’s any question that the brightest minds went into physics, math, chemistry…”<<<Read More>>>

Share

The Closing of the Scientific Mind

Brain*Editor’s Note* Often on this website myself and readers have made comment and engaged at some level of discussion about what has happened to science. It has been described as “prostituted”, “bastardized”, “outcome based”, “politicized”, etc. Together, we have experienced how the abuse of scientific authority has devastating results.

Below is a teaser with a link to an article, a lengthy piece, by David Gelernter about objective and subjective consciousness and how a paring away of subjectivity is destroying the scientific approach of skepticism and questioning, in search of truth.

Oh, I don’t pretend to understand all that Gerlernter writes in his brainy piece, but contained therein may be some answers. If you are willing to read through this, just maybe there are some answers that you have been looking for…..or maybe not.

Because of much that I don’t comprehend in this piece, I cannot say what I agree with or disagree with. I can say that I agree that some scientists have realized the power they wield simply because they are scientists and have wrongly used that power for sinister or at least undesirable reasons. As a result, to the untrained minds, robots if you will, who are eager to believe, and yet do not want to believe they are being manipulated, they become the victim of bastardized, prostituted, outcome-based and politicized science. A combination of abuse of responsibility that comes with scientific study and the knowledge that people’s minds can be controlled and manipulated, creates a troubling prospect for the future.

From the article:

“The huge cultural authority science has acquired over the past century imposes large duties on every scientist. Scientists have acquired the power to impress and intimidate every time they open their mouths, and it is their responsibility to keep this power in mind no matter what they say or do. Too many have forgotten their obligation to approach with due respect the scholarly, artistic, religious, humanistic work that has always been mankind’s main spiritual support. Scientists are (on average) no more likely to understand this work than the man in the street is to understand quantum physics. But science used to know enough to approach cautiously and admire from outside, and to build its own work on a deep belief in human dignity. No longer.”<<<Read More>>>

Share

How Science Goes Wrong

Scientific research has changed the world. Now it needs to change itself

A SIMPLE idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better.

But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.<<<Read the Rest>>>

Share