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USDA Whistleblower Claims Censorship Of Pesticide Research

jetsandzeppelins, flickr Creative Commons

A senior scientist at the US Agriculture Department filed a whistleblower complaint today that adds fuel to the controversy swirling around a popular pesticide.

Jonathan Lundgren is a USDA entomologist in South Dakota. He says his research on a class of pesticides called “neonicotinoids” has been suppressed by the federal agency. His findings suggest the pesticides may harm honeybees and Monarch butterflies. Reporter Carey Gillam broke the story this morning.

“There have been several scientific reports that supposedly watered down, have been held back from publication," Gillam says. "Dr. Jonathan Lundgren is the first USDA scientist to really come forward publically and speak about his experience.”

USDA regulates the big agribusinesses whose profits could be affected by the studies. USDA has denied these claims and said it has a strong scientific integrity policy.

Peggy Lowe joined Harvest Public Media in 2011, returning to the Midwest after 22 years as a journalist in Denver and Southern California. Most recently she was at The Orange County Register, where she was a multimedia producer and writer. In Denver she worked for The Associated Press, The Denver Post and the late, great Rocky Mountain News. She was on the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Columbine. Peggy was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-09. She is from O'Neill, the Irish Capital of Nebraska, and now lives in Kansas City. Based at KCUR, Peggy is the analyst for The Harvest Network and often reports for Harvest Public Media.