December 17, 2017
Washington, DC - Scientists are gravely concerned by reports that the Trump Administration has prohibited public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using specific words and concepts, for example "science-based" and "evidence-based" in the agency's fiscal year 2019 budget request.
"This action politicizes public health in unacceptable and dangerous ways," said Dr. Robert Gropp, Co-Executive Director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
Among the terms banned by the Trump Administration is "fetus." It is inconceivable that CDC officials can appropriately address the threats posed by, for example, the Zika virus, without reference to fetuses or evidence-based decision-making. The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitos, is known to affect fetuses. To understand the spread of this virus requires the use of scientifically derived data about mosquitos. Without these data, officials cannot forecast the potential spread of the disease, and thus where people may be at the greatest risk. Nor can effective prevention and mitigation procedures be identified and implemented.
This directive demonstrates a lack of basic understanding of science and public health. This censorship threatens the health and wellbeing of people everywhere. Citizens in every state are jeopardized by this action, which politically redefines our approach to protecting human health. It opens the door for decisions to be based on political expediency and myth, rather than empirically derived and vetted facts. This directive will prevent the CDC from performing its core mission "...to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S...."
"Quite simply, this action demonstrates a serious disregard for efforts to promote health and protect people," said Gropp.