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Union of Concerned Scientists accuses USDA chief of 'sidelining science'

Union of Concerned Scientists accuses USDA chief of 'sidelining science'
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The Union of Concerned Scientists issued a blistering report about Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueFarm technology is getting CRISPR Kill off anti-environmental excesses in the farm bill The Hill's Morning Report: Hannity drawn into Cohen legal fight MORE’s first year in office, claiming that he has been “sidelining science” in favor of industry leaders.

In a report titled “Betrayal at the USDA,” the scientists say the Trump administration has rolled back key health and science protections and promoted policies that favor the agriculture industry.

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“In its first year, the Trump administration's USDA has sidelined science, undermined key public health and safety protections, and prioritized the interests of large agribusiness companies over the public interest. In doing so, the administration has betrayed farmers, consumers, and rural communities,” the report reads.

The report highlights the Agriculture Department's (USDA) decision to roll back rules on school meals and to lobby in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency undoing a ban on a pesticide known to cause nerve damage in children.

The report notes that Perdue backed President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems add five candidates to ‘Red to Blue’ program White House notifies Russia that no new sanctions are coming: report Senators push HHS to negotiate lower prices on opioid overdose reversal drug MORE’s proposal to slash USDA funding by 25 percent, including federal dollars used to help farmers.

The advocacy group also slammed the administration's nomination of officials who lack science degrees, including Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign staffer. 

“Those kinds of things are the end result of a secretary of agriculture who is more interested in rewarding industry and agriculture than in protecting the public health,” Karen Perry Stillerman, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists who wrote the report, told The Guardian.

Clovis had been nominated to be the USDA's top scientists but withdrew after becoming a figure in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's Russia investigation.