Trump administration buried reports warning climate change could hurt crops: report

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reportedly refused to publicize widespread research on climate change while President Trump has been in office.

The USDA declined to issue press releases or announcements on more than 45 peer-reviewed studies that were cleared through the nonpartisan Agricultural Research Service, Politico reported on Sunday. The studies all point to the potential effects of climate change, ranging from the discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment to a warning that increased temperatures could boost pollen levels and intensify allergy season, according to the news outlet.

Politico found that the Agricultural Research Service has issued two releases directly related to climate change since the start of Trump’s term in 2017 — one finding that beef production only contributes minimally to greenhouse gas emissions and another that not eating animal products could cause nutritional problems.

{mosads}Another press release on soy processing reportedly called reducing fossil fuel use or emissions “a personal consideration” for farmers.

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

Politico also reported that researchers at the University of Washington who collaborated with the USDA to study how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect rice for more than two years were told there “was not enough data” to publicize the study, even after the department prepared its own announcement.

“It was so unusual to have an agency basically say: ‘Don’t do a press release,’ ” Jeff Hodson, a University of Washington spokesperson, 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.”  

A USDA spokesperson said that there were no directives to limit the spread of climate-related research.

“Research continues on these subjects and we promote the research once researchers are ready to announce the findings, after going through the appropriate reviews and clearances,” the spokesperson said.

“USDA has several thousand scientists and over 100,000 employees who work on myriad topics and issues; not every single finding or piece of work solicits a government press release,” the spokesperson added.

–This report was updated at 3:20 p.m.

Tags Climate change Donald Trump USDA
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