CPR Archive for Wendy Wagner

Conflict Disclosures for Regulatory Science: Slow but Steady Progress at Last

by Wendy Wagner | March 18, 2014

Basic disclosures of conflicts of interest have been required by the top science journals for decades. Yet most regulatory agencies – despite strong urging from a variety of bipartisan sources – have failed to require these disclosures for private research submitted to inform regulatory decisions. This omission is particularly alarming since, unlike journals, agencies used this research to determine the appropriate standards for protection of public health and welfare. If anything, one would expect the agencies to apply higher scientific standards and insist on greater transparency for privately submitted research as compared to journal editors.

The failure of agencies to meet these bare minimum standards of science has not gone unnoticed. Recently, the Administrative Conference of the U.S. recommended that agencies should, where possible, require these basic disclosures of conflicts, including “whether the experimenteror author had the legal right without approval of the sponsor of the research to: design the research; collect the data; interpret the data; and author, publish or otherwise disseminate the resulting report or fulldataset.”   See Recommendation #11. Both the Bipartisan Policy Center (p.42) and the Keystone Center (p.20,24) preceded the ACUS recommendation with similar calls for basic conflict disclosures for private research that informs regulation. An editor of Nature recently called for such disclosures, noting:

It was the 1976 film All the President’s Men, about the uncovering of the Watergate political scandal by two Washington Post reporters, that popularized the phrase: “Follow the money.” He who pays the ...

Roll Call: The good science scam and an undemocratic provision

by Wendy Wagner | December 30, 2013
Some members of Congress apparently do not want agencies to regulate powerful agricultural and pharmaceutical interests in order to protect the public from dangerous risks. Yet, rather than say that — and be held accountable to the electorate for the consequences — they have developed what has become a standard, indeed almost boilerplate pretext to hide their endgame. Specifically, they have drafted a provision snuck in as a rider to a farm bill that requires agencies to develop elaborate “high ...

Competitive Chemical Regulation: A Greener Alternative

by Wendy Wagner | August 26, 2013
In 2005, the City of Austin discovered that coal-tar based asphalt sealant was killing the highly endangered Barton Springs salamander. The sealant was leaching off freshly sealed parking lots and entering downstream pools where these fragile animals live. The surprise ending to the City’s detective work was not only that the sealant was gradually destroying its river system but also that other asphalt sealants were far safer. More specifically, when the City investigated the market, it learned that there were other sealants that ...

The White House's New Science Integrity Policy: A First Assessment

by Wendy Wagner | December 17, 2010
The Obama Administration’s newly released science policy memo is an important and largely positive development in the effort to protect science and scientists from politics. In particular, the policy takes aim at many of the abuses of science and scientists that defined the Bush era. It’s particularly encouraging, for example, that the policy calls on political appointees to take a hands-off approach to science. That said, in several areas, the policy could have, and should have, gone farther. The tension between science ...

Steinzor-Shapiro Metrics on Display in EPA's June 2010 Strategic Plan

by Wendy Wagner | June 28, 2010
There is plenty of environmental despair right now . . . spreading oil in the Gulf, legislative inaction on climate change and a host of other issues, and the sense that for every step forward, there is a special interest that will take the nation two steps back.  So, in this downward spiral of disappointments, is there any ray of hope? Rena Steinzor and Sidney Shapiro hit upon one promising possibility in their important new book, The People's Agents and the ...

EPA's Lax Confidential Business Information Policy and the Importance of the Hampshire Associates Study

by Wendy Wagner | February 08, 2010
After laying dormant for decades, industries’ abuse of EPA’s permissive confidential business information program (CBI) is finally getting some serious attention. An investigation in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and more recently articles in the Washington Post and Risk Policy Report; a report by the Environmental Working Group; and posts by Richard Denison at EDF, are turning the tide. Those of us at CPR who have spilled ink on various CBI problems over the years (i.e., Mary Lyndon, Tom McGarity, Sid ...

A New Look at Science in Regulatory Policy

by Wendy Wagner | August 10, 2009
On Wednesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center's Science for Policy Project released its report (press release, full report) on the use of science in regulation-making. I was on the panel and thus am a bit biased, but I think the report makes a terrific contribution. It significantly narrows the range of positions that can be credibly debated about the appropriate level of oversight needed to ensure the quality of regulatory science. At the same time, it introduces some important new ideas ...

Getting from Here to There(s)

by Wendy Wagner | August 23, 2008
As the moderator of this blog, I am the designated devil’s advocate. Read together, Rena’s and John’s entries make my assignment easy. Both write upbeat and insightful entries about their preferred approaches for the future, but they reach diametrically opposite conclusions. John suggests that the best solution for the manipulation of regulatory science is to base environmental policy on as little science as possible (or at least to be more self-conscious about whether we really need science to make environmental ...

What Can Really be Done about the Perversion of Science by Politics

by Wendy Wagner | August 18, 2008
One can quickly become depressed by the problems afflicting the science used for regulation of public health and the environment, and CPR bears a substantial share of responsibility for painting a grim picture of a world where politics prevails over science. In a Cambridge-published book, Rescuing Science from Politics, and an accompanying white paper that summarizes the book, along with a second white paper on the problems of scientific secrecy, CPR offers a wide-ranging diagnosis of what ails the science used ...

Also from Wendy Wagner

Wendy E. Wagner is the Joe A. Worsham Centennial Professor at the University of Texas School of Law, Austin Texas. Prior to joining the University of Texas Law faculty, Professor Wagner was a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law and School of Management, and was a visiting professor at the Columbia Law School and the Vanderbilt Law School.

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