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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 PerdueSonny PerdueThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Georgia election day is finally here; Trump hopes Pence 'comes through for us' to overturn results Civil war between MAGA, GOP establishment could hand Dems total control Trump administration races to finish environmental rules, actions 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 TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' 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 (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's Russia investigation.