NAASO Council Urges All Members to Actively Support H.R. 88

 

On April 18, 1999, NAASO Council voted to endorse House of Representatives Bill 88 (H.R. 88) and to urge all NAASO members to join in our efforts in support of this bill. H.R. 88 addresses a provision in last year's Omnibus Appropriations Bill that may be problematic for NAASO members. This provision requires all data generated under Federal research grants to be available for release through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). There is concern that this provision could lead to interference and/or harassment by special interest groups with the aim of disrupting research not coinciding with their interests. According to Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. (D-California), since this bill's enactment, scientists "have been harassed by tobacco companies, large corporations, and law firms, all seeking the researcher's data. The provision makes scientists fair game for lawsuits, threatens academic freedom and the confidentiality of research subjects."

On January 6, 1999, Congressman Brown introduced legislation (H.R. 88) to nullify this provision of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Brown said that he hoped that Congress would act swiftly on this legislation and urged members of the research, biomedical, and university communities to rally behind H.R. 88 by contacting their representatives to urge them to co-sponsor the bill. Further information is available on the Web at http://www.house.gov/science_democrats/releases/99jan11.htm.

NAASO has sent a letter to Congress in support of this bill and would like to ask all members to send a similar letter to their Congressional Representative. If you would like more information on how to contact your Representative, please see: http://www.house.gov/


A model letter you may use as a starting point for your own letter follows:

Dear Honorable X:

I am writing in support of H.R. 88, introduced by Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. (D-California) on January 6, 1999. As ____________ (title) at ______(institution) this issue has a profound effect on my ability to conduct medical research.

H.R. 88 would repeal a provision included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 1999 (PL 105-277) that requires all data generated under Federal research grants to be available for release through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The current provision of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill (PL105-277) permits the acquisition of research data from investigators prematurely and undermines the confidentiality of research subjects.

I feel that repeal of this provision is vital to the future of scientific medical research in America. The potential for abuse of this provision by special interest groups is so strong it may promote a chilling effect in medical research. Scientists should not have to fear harassment or interference by special interest groups. Without repeal of this provision of PL 105-277, medical research could face a serious long-term setback endangering the public health of Americans. (Optional personal statement regarding consequences of this provision.) I urge you to support H.R. 88.


NAASO Asks Congress to Pass H.R. 88

April 26, 1999

The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
United States House of Representatives
Committee on Science and Technology
2332 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4909

Dear Mr. Chairman:

We are writing in support of H.R. 88, introduced by Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. (D-California) on January 6, 1999. The North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) is a leading interdisciplinary scientific society in the field of obesity. NAASO has over 900 physician and scientist members who are actively involved in obesity treatment and research. NAASO's mission is to develop, extend, and disseminate knowledge regarding research and treatment of obesity. Obesity Research is the official journal of NAASO.

H.R. 88 would repeal a provision included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 1999 (PL 105-277) that requires all data generated under Federal research grants to be available for release through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The current provision of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill (PL105-277) permits the acquisition of research data from investigators prematurely and undermines the confidentiality of research subjects.

We feel that repeal of this provision is vital to the future of scientific medical research in America. The potential for abuse of this provision by special interest groups is so strong it may promote a chilling effect in medical research. Scientists should not have to fear harassment or interference by special interest groups. Without repeal of this provision of PL 105-277, medical research could face a serious long-term setback endangering the public health of Americans. We urge you to support H.R. 88.

Sincerely,

George L. Blackburn, MD, Ph.D., President, NAASO

David York, Ph.D., President - Elect

Charles Billington, MD, Vice- President

David Allison, Ph.D., Secretary/Treasurer

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