The American Public Health Association commends President Obama for today releasing a memorandum highlighting the importance of insulating the federal government's scientific decisions from political influence.

The memorandum, issued in conjunction with an executive order lifting previous stem cell research restrictions, directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making.

"As we seek ways to best protect and promote health in our nation, it is essential that politics doesn't serve as a barrier to our goals," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of the American Public Health Association. "The president's memorandum and the strategy that will result will go a long way in restoring the independence of science and technology in the federal government, as well as ensuring that our nation has accurate findings upon which to base policy decisions."

Among other goals, the memo aims to ensure that political officials do not suppress or alter scientific findings, that scientists and technology professionals hired by the executive branch are well-qualified, and that each agency has appropriate rules and procedures in place to ensure the integrity of the scientific process.

The importance of scientific integrity is addressed in an APHA policy from 2003 entitled "Ensuring the Scientific Credibility of Government Public Health Advisory Committees." The policy is available online.

American Public Health Association

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