Quote:U.S. agriculture, says Lundgren, is in crisis. A lack of diversity in farming and a related overreliance on pesticides have triggered a host of negative effects, including the decline of pollinators, such as butterflies and bees.
Quote:A couple of years ago, the now 40-year-old Lundgren — running a government lab, winning awards from both his agency and President Obama — occupied the right position to aid in this crisis. He says he was doing just that when the trouble started: a pair of suspensions — one for conduct unbecoming a federal employee and another for violating travel regulations.
Quote:The lawyers who filed Lundgren’s suit allege that nine additional USDA scientists have been ordered to retract studies and water-down findings, or have faced discipline in retaliation for their work. They further allege that three of those scientists, beyond Lundgren, were also working on pollinator-related research.
Quote:As a USDA-ARS employee, Lundgren has run his own lab and staff for 11 years, wrote a well-regarded book on predator insects, published nearly 100 scientific papers and acted as a peer reviewer for dozens of publications. For years, his body of research was either neutral or favorable to farming policy and the chemical industry. But three years ago, he started cautioning against the overuse of pesticides. That shift, he says, triggered his suspensions and the downturn in his professional fate.
Quote:He believes the problem began in 2012, when he published findings in the Journal of Pest Science suggesting that a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids don’t improve soybean yields. He also served as a peer reviewer for a Center for Food Safety report on the dangers of neonics. The next year, he published a paper suggesting that a new genetic pest treatment, dubbed RNAi pesticides, required a new means of risk assessment.
Quote:A few months later, in 2014, Lundgren gave an interview to Boulder Weekly. Within two weeks, he was the subject of a misconduct investigation over his office behavior.
Quote:As a manager, Lundgren couldn’t be represented by the union, but his staff sought out Sheila Sears Wichmann, a now-retired ARS union rep, to guide them as witnesses. “I was a union rep for 35 years,” says Wichmann. “I’ve seen sexual harassers and serial harassers, the kind of things where even I — as the union rep — would think, ‘Go on and knock his block off.’ But this, was nothing.”
Wichmann believes Lundgren was the real victim. “I don’t know why they did it,” she says, “but it seemed that they wanted to get him and were out to find some way of doing it.”
Quote:Lundgren says the tumult left him stunned. “At first, I couldn’t believe this was happening,” he says. “But as time went on, it seemed like anytime my work got media attention, they came after me.”
It happened again, he says, when he submitted a paper to his supervisors early last year, describing how clothianidin — another form of neonic pesticide — harms monarch butterflies. Papiernik returned the paper, asking for minor revisions.
Quote:After this, Lundgren says, he became the subject of his supervisors’ unrelenting focus: investigating his grants and his use of government vehicles, reviewing his slides for a presentation and even requiring him to retract his name from an article on the adverse consequences of increased U.S. corn production because it seemed to comment on policy.
Quote:Jeff Ruch, the executive director at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility who has been representing Lundgren, says the report reveals a systemic problem inside the agency: “No witnesses named by Lundgren were interviewed,” Ruch says. “The panel was told not to even consider allegations of reprisal. And they also repeated USDA’s position that they can prohibit any scientist from talking to the media even about already published research, which completely undermines any claim of scientific freedom.”
It is a long article and these are only a few snippets. Go read the article in its entirety and get another dose of how one of the most important branches of the US gov, that is directly responsible for the safety of the people is corrupt and in bed with big corps.
What politics from both sides wants to teach us is that things are never complex. If you have your little package and something doesn't fit into that package, You don't know what to make of it so you want to dismiss it or then you will have to do the work of reconsidering your assumptions. - Michael Malice