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Deborah Bailin

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About the author: Deborah Bailin is a democracy analyst for UCS’s Center for Science and Democracy and researches political and societal barriers to formulating science-based policies. She came to UCS in 2012 as an ACLS Public Fellow and holds a PhD in English from the University of Maryland, where she studied the cultural influence of Darwin on American literature. Subscribe to Deborah's posts

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey’s Legacy for Science and Democracy

On August 7, 2015, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey passed away at the age of 101. Dr. Kelsey—a true hero of science and democracy—championed science-based policies that protected public health and safety throughout her life. Most famously, her actions preventing the FDA approval of thalidomide—a drug that causes birth defects—stopped what could have been a devastating tragedy for Americans. As my colleague Celia Wexler wrote, “The lesson of thalidomide is that regulations matter.” Read More

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“The Coke Side of Life”—More Sugar, Less Science

Almost 130 years ago, Coca-Cola first quenched Americans’ thirst and splashed its irresistible blend of sugar and, yes, cocaine, across our taste buds and brains. “Drink Coca-Cola and enjoy it” said the company’s first ad slogan.  Since then, addiction and advertising have gone hand in hand to convince us that Coke is, as a 1985 ad spun it, “America’s real choice.” Read More

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Communicating Science: Barriers Journalists Face at Government Agencies

Transparency invigorates a strong democracy. It inspires trust and spurs citizens to hold their leaders accountable. As citizens, we have the right to know about the scientific information shaping the policies that affect our health, our safety, and the environment, and our government has a responsibility to share this information openly. Read More

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Labeling Added Sugar: 3 Reasons to Support FDA’s Proposed Rule to Include the Percent Daily Value

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was amending its proposed rule on updating the Nutrition Facts label to include a recommended maximum percent daily value (%DV) for added sugar. The original proposed rule, announced in March 2014, included a line for added sugar separate from total sugar but provided no context for people to understand the implications of the amount of added sugar in a given product the way they could for protein, fat, and sodium. Read More

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Added Sugar on the Nutrition Facts Label: Public Comments to the FDA Show Big Food Is Sour on Science

In new research UCS released this week, an analysis of comments submitted to the FDA on its proposed rule to label added sugar shows a stark difference between supporters and opponents. Comments supporting the proposed rule—a majority of the total comments—came from public health experts and public interest advocates. Comments opposing the proposed rule overwhelmingly came from the food industry. Read More

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Access Denied? A Survey of Science Writers Sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Union of Concerned Scientists

Earlier this year, the Center for Science and Democracy published a report on media policies at 17 federal agencies. More than four years after the Obama administration had issued a directive ordering reform of federal scientific integrity policies—including those governing media access—we found evidence that public communications are too often censored, constrained, or funneled through agency media offices. Read More

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2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: In Support of Limiting and Labeling Added Sugar

Yesterday morning, I took a detour from my usual routine. Instead of strolling the 2 miles from my house to UCS’s office on K Street in Washington, DC, I hopped on the metro and rode up to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. There I met two other UCS researchers to attend a public hearing on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report with one consistent message: that we support the committee’s recommendations. Below is a copy of my testimony. Read More

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Big Sugar Is Watching You: Four Ways the Food Industry Is Trying to Rig the Game

Most of us ask a doctor for advice about our health. We consult a dentist about care for our teeth. No one queries General Mills, the maker of sugary Lucky Charms and Betty Crocker cake mixes, for the latest science on diabetes or cardiovascular disease. And no one in their right mind calls up Coca-Cola or PepsiCo for evidence-based guidance on sugar and dental disease. Read More

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Baltimore against the Measles: A Victory for Science, but for How Long?

When I was an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, I had only a dim awareness of the measles outbreak then raging through Baltimore. I was fully vaccinated, spent most of my time on campus, and lived in university housing among mostly white, middle and upper-middle class students, who were also fully vaccinated. Measles, for me, was a remote thing, despite its proximity. It didn’t happen to anyone I knew. Read More

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Big Sugar Bad for Babies, CDC Scientists Say—but Food Industry Disagrees

A new CDC study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, tells us something about infants and sugar that is worrisome, though not especially surprising if you’ve been following the food industry’s efforts to mislead the public and influence the science and policy on added sugar. Read More

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