SEJ Joins Call for End to "Minders," Interview-Control at FDA
The Society of Environmental Journalists has joined journalism groups calling for an end to restrictions on FDA staff interviews with press. The call comes as
The Obama administration came into office promising greater openness at federal agencies. In response, FDA has formed a Transparency Task Force to review its information policies. That task force held meetings to get input from the public on June 24 and
The FDA is one of several federal agencies noted for restricting press interviews with agency scientists and staff. An unwritten policy has for a decade and a half required agency personnel to get press office permission to speak to news media, and required Saddam-style "minders" from the press office to sit in on interviews. The press offices of most agencies are usually controlled by political appointees.
Led by the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists, a number of journalism groups have called on FDA's Transparency Task Force to help end the interview restrictions as "practices that restrict the flow of information to the public."
One of the reasons FDA is negligent in notifying schools of tainted lunch foods, according to
FDA has come under fire in recent years for other secrecy practices — including not revealing the harmful or fatal side-effects of the drugs it approves.
In the absence of reliably effective programs by FDA to protect schoolchildren and people needing medication, as the
Ironically, the Del Rey incident was similar in many ways to a "hypothetical case study" presented for public discussion at the Transparency Task Force's
"Schools in the Dark About Tainted Lunches,"
TODAY, USA November 17, 2009, by Blake Morrison and Peter Eisler.
Previous Story: WatchDog of
November 4, 2009.