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Rescuing Science from Politics: Regulation and the Distortion of Scientific Research

Climate Justice Public Protections Responsive Government

Published in July 2006, Rescuing Science from Politics debuted chapters by the nation's leading academics in law, science, and philosophy who explore ways that the law can be abused by special interests to intrude on the way scientists conduct research. The high stakes and adversarial features of regulation create the worst possible climate for the honest production and use of science especially by those who will ultimately bear the cost of the resulting regulatory standards. Yet an in-depth exploration of the ways in which dominant interest groups distort the available science to support their positions has received little attention in the academic or popular literature. The book begins by establishing non-controversial principles of good scientific practice. These principles then serve as the benchmark against which each chapter author compares how science is misused in a specific regulatory setting and assist in isolating problems in the integration of science by the regulatory process.

Editors: Wendy Wagner, University of Texas, Austin and Rena Steinzor, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Contributors: David E. Adelman, John S. Applegate, Carl Cranor, Holly Doremus, Paul M. Fischer, Donald T. Hornstein, Donald Kennedy, Sheldon Krimsky, Thomas O. McGarity, David Michaels, Sidney A. Shapiro, Katherine S. Squibb, Rena Steinzor, Wendy Wagner, Vern R. Walker

"This compendium by some of the nation's top philosophers and legal scholars provides a chilling portrait of the heavy burdens on the scientific enterprise that have evolved over the past decade. Science remains an exquisitely social institution, with human fragilities, strengths, and follies. The marketplace of ideas is fettered by competing political interests. Democracy rests on an informed public that freely consents to be governed. This book reveals the precarious nature of scientific information on which any democratic society must depend."

Devra Davis, Director, Center for Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

"For those who think of science as an honest and objective broker in policy making, this volume paints a very different picture, and it's not pretty. But it's the ugly side of the regulatory process, where scientific research is often distorted to serve questionable ends, that badly needs greater exposure. This book is an eye-opener that not only documents the problems, but also takes great pains to make sensible proposals for reform that merit serious consideration."

Mark S. Frankel, Ph.D., Director, Scientific Freedom, Responsibility & Law Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science

"This book begins with a sobering prologue by Science magazine editor-in-chief and former FDA commissioner Donald Kennedy alerting us to the dangers posed by the increasingly ruthless tactics used by powerful opponents to health and environmental regulations. The book proceeds with detailed example after example showing how opponents to governmental protections have engaged in deliberate and pernicious efforts to subvert the legitimate scientific process for their interest or that of their client and illustrating the Orwellian manner in which the concept of 'sound science' has been corrupted by special interests. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares deeply about science or how it is being both used and abused in public policy."

Michael E. Mann, Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University

"At a time when the United States government is pushing the limits of the law in the interest of risk-producing industries, this book provides a much-needed scholarly analysis of our state of affairs and makes it clear that our policies require recalibration in the interest of public welfare."

New England Journal of Medicine

Buy the book from Cambridge University Press or from Amazon.


Baltimore Sun Op-Ed. Read "Saving Science from Politicians," an op-ed by Wagner and Steinzor, published September 5, 2006, in the Baltimore Sun.

Austin American-Statesman and Cleveland Plain Dealer Op-Ed. Read "Rescuing Science from Politics," by Wagner and Steinzor, in the March 23, 2009 Cleveland Plain Dealer, discussing steps the Obama Administration should take to protect science in the policymaking and regulatory realms from politicization and undue corporate influence. Also published in the Austin American-Statesman, March 23, 2009, "How to Save Science from Politics," and in the March 30, 2009 Baltimore Sun, "Purifying Science."

Letter to White House Science Advisor. On April 3, 2009, Rena Steinzor and Wendy Wagner sent a letter to White House Science Advisor John Holdren with several recommendations for protecting science from politics in the Obama Administration. Read the letter.

Congressional Testimony. On April 30, 2009, Steinzor testified before the House Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight on clean science and regulatory issues. Read the testimony.

Climate Justice Public Protections Responsive Government