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May 28, 2008

New book by professors Thomas McGarity and Wendy Wagner reveals efforts by special interests to manipulate public health research

Book cover for Bending Science

Using alarming stories drawn from the public record, The University of Texas law professors Thomas O. McGarity and Wendy Wagner describe in a new book how advocates for special interests employ a range of devious tactics to manipulate or suppress research on potential human health hazards.

Harvard University Press is publishing the book, Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research. It is scheduled for release on May 31, 2008.

In their book, McGarity and Wagner describe how scientists can find their research blocked, or find themselves threatened with financial ruin. Corporations, plaintiff attorneys, think tanks, even government agencies have been caught suppressing or distorting research on the safety of chemical products.

Bending Science reveals that ideological and economic attacks on research are part of an extensive pattern of abuse and corruption, and the authors make a compelling case for reforms to safeguard both the integrity of science and the public health.

Professor Peter Strauss, the Betts Professor at Columbia Law School and a former general counsel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, writes that:

“The perverse incentives to bend science,” Professors Tom McGarity and Wendy Wagner conclude in this remarkable catalog of the ways in which it is done, “will not change until the legal system changes, and the legal system will not change until an attentive public, catalyzed by an agitated scientific community, demands it.” Between our government’s disgraceful responses to the issues of global warming and the openness to change that an election brings, perhaps the moment has arrived when this could happen. No one who reads this book will fail to join that attentive public or its clamor — to understand how urgent it is that we find the means of restoring integrity to our science, and to the use of its results in formulating and enforcing public policy.

To read an excerpt from the book on-line or order a book from Harvard University Press go to http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/MCGBEN.html.

About Professors McGarity and Wagner

Photo of Thomas McGarity
Thomas McGarity

Thomas O. McGarity holds the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law at The University of Texas School of Law. Professor McGarity is a leading scholar in the fields of both administrative law and environmental law. He also teaches torts.

McGarity has written three influential books: Workers at Risk (Praeger, 1993) (co-author), The Law of Environmental Protection (West, 2nd ed., 1991) (co-author), and Reinventing Rationality: The Role of Regulatory Analysis in the Federal Bureaucracy (Cambridge, 1991).

His recent articles include “On the Prospect of Daubertizing Judicial Review of Risk Assessment” (Law & Contemporary Problems 2003). He currently serves on the Board of the Center for Progressive Reform.

Photo of Wendy Wagner
Wendy Wagner

Wendy Wagner, who holds the Joe A. Worsham Centennial Professorship at The University of Texas School of Law, is a leading authority on the use of science by environmental policy-makers. Prior to joining the faculty at The University of Texas, Professor Wagner taught at Case Western Law School, where she established herself as a prolific scholar. Wagner was also a visiting professor at the Columbia and Vanderbilt Law Schools.

Among her many articles, “The Science Charade in Toxic Risk Regulation” (Columbia Law Review, 1995) and “Equal Treatment for Regulatory Science” (co-authored with David Michaels in American Journal of Law and Medicine, 2004) were chosen as one of the best environmental law articles of the year and reprinted in the Land Use and Environmental Law Review.

Wagner is a member scholar of the Center for Progressive Reform.

Related Links:

Thomas O. McGarity:
http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/tom56/

Wendy Wagner:
http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/wewagner/

Press contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or kfortune@law.utexas.edu.