In a windowless conference room epidemiologist Steve Wing was frantically blacking out chunks of his own research.
Wing had been working on a study looking into the impacts of industrial-scale hog operations on health for the University of North Carolina. But the state’s Pork Council had caught wind of the research, and filed a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) to gain access to his findings. “They went after Steve, asking him to turn over any documentation. They went directly to the university and got the lawyers to try and make him hand it over,” says Naeema Muhammad, one of Wing’s community partners.
The university warned Wing that if he failed to hand over the documents, he could be arrested for theft of state property and even sent to jail. The data didn’t belong to him, it belonged to the state. But handing over the identities put his subjects in jeopardy. It wasn’t unheard of for people to lose their jobs for taking a public stand against the politically powerful pork industry.
Very interesting & chilling story Adriaan. Thanks.
That's why forum websites such as this one, and many others, are so important.
Right now, I view the situation under our current Canadian federal government (or "current administration" as our American friends say) to be much better than the last one we had, the Harper government. That was a few years back now. Back then the Feds here had pushed researchers into the same kind of restrictions and fears... essentially a gag order.
I have hopes for something better soon for our American neighbors. But I take heart in the proliferation of organic co-ops, informative websites, podcasts & books, and more and more individuals choosing the "green" direction.
My online educational sites:
This is truly chilling. My lab recently learned that there is a pig virus circulating that can also infect and sicken commercial poultry. We want to screen poultry farms in the state to see if the chickens or turkeys have it circulating in their bloodstreams. My boss is afraid that none of the farms in this state will allow us to test their flocks because they don't want to be identified as infected. We will have to get archived serum from some other researcher.
Can you smell this for me? I think this tiny ad smells like blueberry pie!
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