Speed Reads

compare and contrast

Australia's chief scientist tears Trump's EPA mandate: 'It's reminiscent of the censorship exerted by political officers in the old Soviet Union'

President Trump's clampdown on the Environmental Protection Agency's scientific data reminds Australian chief scientist Alan Finkel of the Soviet Union. At a scientific roundtable Monday, Finkel warned his colleagues that science is "literally under attack" in the United States, citing the Trump administration's mandate that all research or data published by the EPA "undergo review by political appointees before that data can be published on the EPA website or elsewhere."

"It will almost certainly cause long-term harm. It's reminiscent of the censorship exerted by political officers in the old Soviet Union," Finkel said of the mandate. He pointed out that in the Soviet Union, every military commander also had "a political officer second-guessing his decisions."

Finkel argued that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's system held Soviet agricultural science back "for decades," after Stalin used his "limitless power" to push "unscientific ideas." "So while Western scientists embraced evolution and genetics, Russian scientists who thought the same were sent to the gulag," Finkel said. "Western crops flourished. Russian crops failed."