Robert Kennedy, Jr, ecowatch.com
Nov. 21, 2016
Last month, The Hill published a letter sent by “more than a dozen” senior Center for Disease Control (CDC) scientists charging the agency with nursing an atmosphere of pervasive research fraud.
The group, which claimed to represent scientists across the CDC’s diverse branches, calls itself SPIDER (Scientists Preserving Integrity, Diligence and Ethics in Research). The letter to CDC Chief of Staff, Carmen Villar, expressed alarm “about the current state of ethics at our agency.” The scientists complained that “our mission is being influenced and shaped by outside parties and rogue interests” and “circumvented by some of our leaders.”
The scientists told Villar that, “questionable and unethical practices, occurring at all levels and in all of our respective units, threaten to undermine our credibility and reputation as a trusted leader in public health.” The letter charged that staff level scientists “are intimidated and pressed to do things they know are not right,” and that, “Senior management officials at CDC are clearly aware and even condone these behaviors.”
The scientists cited several recent scandals involving scientific corruption at CDC.
- They describe a “cover up,” by officials, of mismanagement in CDC’s Wise Woman Program, which provides screening in low income neighborhoods for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health disorders. According to the letter, CDC officials purposefully misrepresented screening numbers in documents they sent to Congress to conceal failures in the multimillion dollar project. “… definitions were changed and data ‘cooked’ to make the results look better than they were.” The scientists accused high level CDC bosses of suppressing the results of an internal review, involving staff across the CDC, “so media and/or Congressional staff would not become aware of the problems.” As part of the systematic cover up, CDC then engaged in a coordinated effort to “bury” these deceptions. “CDC staff has gone out of its way to delay FOIAs and obstruct any inquiry.”
- The scientists also complain about the “troubling” adventures of Dr. Barbara Bowman, director of CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, and Dr. Michael Pratt, Senior Advisor for Global Health at the NCCDPHP. Bowman recently left the CDC following shocking media disclosures that the pair had manipulated scientific studies on soft drink safety in collusion with Coca Cola. The CDC flimflam was part of Coke’s campaign to pressure the World Health Organization to relax guidelines for sugar consumption by children in developing nations where the soda industry is aggressively expanding its markets.
The scientists complain that the “climate of disregard” at CDC puts “many” agency scientists in difficult positions. “We are often directed to do things we know are not right.” The public record supports SPIDER’s allegations that scientists who insist on research integrity suffer persecution by CDC supervisors. Continue reading