Dr. Dawg

Lysenkoism in Ottawa?

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Almost a year ago I posted on dirty tricks and intimidation of scientists by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In today’s Globe & Mail there is a depressing follow-up.

In a classic case of trying to kill the messenger, CFIA is moving to have international credentials stripped from a Canadian laboratory that first discovered infectious salmon anemia in BC salmon.

“This is stunning news,” said Rick Routledge, a professor at Simon Fraser University, who sent the lab samples that showed a ISA virus was present on the Pacific coast. “This comes as a shock… my head is spinning. I had no idea they would take it that far,” he said.

Prof. Routledge said the CFIA was “placed in a very awkward situation” when Dr. Kibenge’s lab reported positive hits for the ISA virus in salmon collected at Rivers Inlet, on B.C.’s Central Coast.

The lab in question is recognized internationally:

Dr. Kibenge’s lab is one of only two facilities in the world recognized by the OIE for its expertise in detecting the ISA virus, outbreaks of which have devastated fish farms in Scotland and Chile.

After Dr. Kibenge’s findings were made public at an SFU press conference in October, his lab was hit with two audits - one in November, 2011, by the CFIA, and a second in August, by an independent panel appointed by the Canadian government and the OIE.

My friend Matthew Elliott calls this continued persecution of scientists by the Harper government “Lysenkoism.” That is apt as far as it goes—scientists being brought to heel when their findings don’t match state policy—except that in this instance it’s all bureaucrats and politicians trying to protect an industry, regardless of the evidence and the consequences. As was the case a year ago, this seems more like the plot of a well-known play, with Dr. Kibenge as a Canadian stand-in for Dr. Thomas Stockmann.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 23, 2012 10:32 AM.

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