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Attack on panel politics

Group demands tighter ethics rules for appointments to US scientific advisory panels.

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Monday asked the Bush Administration's chief ethics officer to tighten up conflict of interest rules for members of scientific advisory bodies. CSPI's 17-page letter to Amy L. Comstock, director of the US Office of Government Ethics, was prompted by months of protest over the alleged ideological loading of committees that advise the government on science policy, said Virginia Sharpe, director of CSPI's Integrity in Science project.

Twenty-one signatories of CSPI's letter include David Bellinger, a Harvard researcher who is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel for childhood lead poisoning, and Michael Weitzman, a University of Rochester pediatrician who was dropped from the panel in favor of an appointee described by critics as "industry-supported" (Science 298:103).

Comstock is attending a conference and was unable to comment on the letter, her office said Tuesday.

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