Trump officials keep getting caught hiding scientific reports they don't like


The U.S. Department of Agriculture is burying scientific research about the impact of climate change.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is actively trying to muzzle and minimize scientific reports warning about the impacts of climate change, according to a Monday Politico report.

The research Trump officials are trying to keep hidden could help farmers deal with the impact of climate change, such as how climate change affects the protein in wheat fed to cattle, or how changes in carbon dioxide levels alters the nutrients in rice.

But rather than promote such peer-reviewed research by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the agency refuses to even issue press releases. In one instance about research on rice, the agency tried to dissuade a research partner, the University of Washington, from publicly discussing research.

"It was so unusual to have an agency basically say: 'Don't do a press release,'" Jeff Hodson, a communications director at the university, told Politico. "We stand for spreading the word about the science we do, especially when it has a potential impact on millions and millions of people."

Research from Politico showed the USDA did not attempt any promotion or press releases for 45 ARS studies that mentioned climate change.

"The intent is to try to suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change," said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. "Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires and heat waves."

Anti-science censorship has become a hallmark of the Trump administration. In August 2018, a survey of 63,000 government scientists warned that "censorship has been a problem in the Trump administration from the beginning."

When a multi-agency report on climate change was released in November 2018, Trump's EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, complained that it had too much science in it.

As recently as June, the Trump administration prevented a scientist from writing about climate change in testimony before Congress because it didn't "jibe" with the administration's view on the topic.

Trump has been clear that he does not believe in the sound science behind climate change, writing it off as a hoax. Trump said he didn't believe the multi-agency scientific report about climate change noted above.

Trump has also chosen fellow climate change skeptics for the highest levels of his administration, including Sonny Perdue, who leads the Department of Agriculture. In May, career government economists accused Perdue and his agency of retaliating against them for their reports showing that Trump's tax and farm subsidy policies are hurting the very rural voters he promised to help.

Now farmers may also feel the brunt of the pain from not receiving information about how to cope with the changing environment.

Perdue refused to comment on this latest report that his agency is suppressing scientific research.

"If you're taking a certain block of research and not communicating it, it defeats the purpose of why USDA does the research in the first place," Robert Bonnie, who worked at USDA during President Obama's administration, told Politico.

Rather than embrace science, the Trump administration is hurting farmers in order to cling to an anti-science political position.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.