We Made The EPA Nervous, A Boot Camp For Biotech, and More Outreach Last Week

By Hank Campbell — Jun 12, 2017
ACSH President Hank Campbell gives a bootcamp on biotech to science communicators, the EPA would prefer not to have awkward questions asked, and more outreach this past week.

1. The EPA Scientific Integrity Official Gets Nervous About Talking To The Science Community. This Wednesday, June 14th, the Environmental Protection Agency had scheduled a meeting on scientific integrity, hosted by Francesca T. Grifo, Ph.D., EPA Scientific Integrity Official, who arrived at EPA via a specially-created position for her after working for years at the activist group Union of Concerned Scientists which, as you probably know, hates science.

I signed up to attend and a day later she sent out an email that the meeting was canceled, because she "is unable to host the meeting as scheduled." How can she be unable to host the meeting she planned around her schedule? It's EPA, it's not like they suddenly discovered a scientific integrity emergency that was happening next week.

No, what happened was she saw that we were going. And Steve Milloy from Junk Science was going, and Joe Bast, President of Heartland, and Myron Ebell from CEI, and more. While I have often praised the work of EPA I also recognize that many parts of EPA are politicized, and creating a position so that an activist is qualified to fill it is a prime example of that. If we are going to Make Science In America Great Again, we need to stop allowing these political appointments to happen. All of us in our various domains have reason to doubt the scientific integrity of many parts of EPA.

She clearly wanted no part of that, she wanted to check off a box that she held a meeting, and she wants it to be stacked by her friends at UCS and CSPI and Greenpeace...not people who actually know anything about science.

2. The University of Guelph is Canada's leading agricultural school and this year they hosted a Biotech Boot Camp, for people who were interested in learning about communicating science. I was invited to moderate a panel on science communication and risk assessment.

Humans are, of course, terrible at risk assessment. As we write in our upcoming Little Black Book of Junk Science, though people know cars kill tens of thousands of us each year, and GMOs have never even created a stomach-ache, they will drive to Whole Foods to avoid GMOs. That is terrible risk assessment.

But you can't teach a communications course telling people how bad someone else is at something, we must light a candle rather than curse their darkness. And so light a candle I did. 

In an article out tomorrow I detail my presentation, but until then here is a picture with Dr. Maria Trainer, geneticist from Crop Life Canada. She looks excited. It is not about being seen with me, she is just beaming light like this all of the time. She loves science that much.

3. Dr. Julianna LeMieux represented us at the World Science Festival.

4. Dr. Jamie Wells represented us at the annual CEI dinner and probably caused some trouble with Julie Gunlock of Independent Women's Forum. They took a picture of something that looks like an orb. I predict 10 years from now no one will understand why but it's topical today, and therefore funny. But maybe it will still be funny then. Six years ago I was unsure about inserting an Anthony Weiner joke into Science Left Behind, because I thought his 15 minutes of fame were already up, but apparently not. Given that, we may be seeing orbs for a long time.