AAAS Calls for Removal of ‘Sound Science’ Provision in Farm Bill

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has joined 13 Senators in opposing Section 12307, the so-called Sound Science Act, within the Farm Bill (H.R. 2642). AAAS released its statement on 9 January.

Section 12307 is intended to “ensure high standards for Federal agency use of scientific information,” and would require all federal agencies to implement new guidelines for using science to inform their rule-making processes.  These guidelines conflict with existing Office of Management and Budget data quality requirements in place since 2002, which were carefully crafted not to inhibit the conduct of science and the development of federal policies, according to the AAAS statement.

The Section would also require that agencies favor data that are “experimental, empirical, quantifiable, and reproducible,” although not all scientific research could meet each of these criteria. For example, some experiments are theoretical or statistical rather than experimental, and others are so large-scale that they may not be reproducible. The new regulation could also prevent policymakers from using science based on new technologies, AAAS warned.

In his 2014 statement, AAAS CEO Alan Leshner said that this provision could “further hamstring agencies already under significant budgetary pressure.”

In short, the Section, if passed, may slow or even paralyze agencies’ rule-making abilities by complicating an already thorough review process, making it exceedingly difficult to implement new regulations pertaining to agricultural, environmental, or public health practices, among other things, the statement said.

Leshner echoed concerns of Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who released a statement of his own in December. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership and UCAR also released a joint letter opposing Section 12307 and calling for removal of the provision from the Farm Bill.