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Scientists are debating the implications of a proposed new set of rules requiring federal agencies to consult outside scientists systematically when revising regulations. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says that the "peer-review" requirements are meant to "further engage the scientific community in the regulatory process."

Under the draft rules, independent scientists must review significant amendments to any federal agency rule, which includes amendments that carry an annual impact of $100 million (US) or more. Some fear, however, that the proposal has a built-in trapdoor that will drop many academic scientists out of the process of formulating scientific regulations: Anyone receiving government agency funds is considered tainted when it comes to serving as a peer reviewer for that agency. The suggestion has some academics up in arms.

"They are trying to get university scientists out of the picture here," says David Michaels, research professor and...

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