Ever since the Reagan era, regulators have been under enormous pressure to withhold important research that affects corporate interests -- even when it's about something as critical as the alarming decline of bees:
A highly regarded federal scientist filed a whistleblower complaint Wednesday against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), charging that he was punished for publicizing research showing a link between pesticides and the decline in bees and other pollinators.
Jonathan Lundgren, a USDA entomologist in Brookings, S.D., said in civil service documents that while the agency did not stop publication of the research, supervisors harassed him, tried to stop him from speaking out, and interfered with new projects.
His complaint caps months of speculation among beekeepers and other scientists who have been following his case. It was filed within the federal civil service system with support by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national nonprofit that defends government scientists on controversial environmental issues.
“We think the USDA is reflecting complaints from corporate stakeholders,” said Jeff Ruch, the group’s executive director. “This research is drawing consternation, which flows down the USDA chain of command to the researchers doing the work.”
Officials from the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA branch where Lundgren works, declined to answer questions about the case. In a prepared statement, spokesman Christopher Bentley said the agency is committed to scientific integrity.