Who Guarantees the Science Behind the Guidelines?

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 |
A Tale in 3 Acts (Freedom of Information Acts, that is)

Freedom of Information Act Request to USDA/HHS (No. 1) March 2011
We sought the identities of the anonymous Independent Scientific Panel credited with ensuring that our 2010 Dietary Guidelines are based on the weight of available scientific evidence.

Response from USDA to Freedom of Information Act (No. 1) April 2011
The USDA refused to reveal the names of the 2010 Independent Scientific Panel members, citing some unusual reasons, none of which met any FOIA exemptions. We pursued this matter further with a new FOIA filed in September.

Freedom of Information Act Request to USDA/HHS (No. 2) September 2011
We cast a wider net and enlisted the help of a number of well-know researchers to support this endeavor. This request resulted in the publication of the identities of the 2010 Independent Scientific Panel (see below).

Freedom of Information Act Request to USDA/HHS (No. 3) October 2011
In pursuit of additional information regarding the formation of the first Independent Scientific Panel in 2005, Healthy Nation Coalition filed another FOIA with the USDA and HHS.

Response from USDA to Freedom of Information Act (No. 2) November 2011
The USDA finally reveals its previously anonymous Independent Scientific Advisory Panel. Members’ names and commentary on the proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines were made public. Concerns remain regarding the contradictions between what the Panel is credited with doing and what the FOIA response states. In the Acknowledgements of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the USDA states that an “Independent Scientific Review Panel” “peer reviewed the recommendations of the document to ensure they were based on the preponderance of the scientific evidence.” Yet, in the response to the FOIA, the USDA states the Panel “played no role in interpreting the science . . .” In other words, the Panel is credited with doing something that it apparently didn’t do–and we still don’t know who is ensuring that the Dietary Guidelines are based on the preponderance of the scientific evidence now that the responsibility for writing the Guidelines has been removed from scientists and given to USDA and HHS staffers. An appeal of the FOIA has been filed. A press release announced the results:
Freedom of Information Act findings

We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of FOIA No. 3 and the appeal of FOIA No. 2 response.