Comments on bST/bGH postings

Wed Feb 23 14:10:24 EST 1994

During the latter part of November and again in early February Lara
Wiggert, a graduate assistant working at the National Agricultural
Library, posted several messages to this discussion group responding to
messages regarding the safety and efficacy of recombinant bovine
somatotropin (bST/bGH).  The content of these postings was inappropriate
to be coming from an institution whose purpose is to disseminate
information in an impartial and unprejudiced manner.  Her postings
demonstrated a lack of objectivity, and failed to recognize the full
breadth of published material which has assessed the safety of this
product.  The postings also did not follow internal guidelines on handling
e-mail reference questions.  The National Agricultural Library takes full
responsibility for the actions of Ms. Wiggert and would like to offer a
public apology to individuals who were offended by her remarks.  The
mission of the National Agricultural Library is to acquire and disseminate
useful information on all subjects connected with agriculture.  Given this
mission, NAL does not condone or support such bias and will do everything
possible to ensure that information is provided in a balanced manner.  For
unrelated reasons, Ms. Wiggert no longer works at NAL and her e- mail
account has been cancelled. 

In addition to containing biased information, Ms. Wiggert's postings
contained inappropriate innuendoes and improper assertions regarding the
integrity of researchers and organizations who have conducted or supported
research on recombinant bovine somatotropin.  The postings questioned the
veracity of research results and the conclusions of several of the reports
communicated by Dr. Dale Bauman (sanet-mg posting from B. Eastwood, Feb.
8, 1994).  Ms. Wiggert was neither authorized nor qualified to make
assessments of these studies or the research results upon which they were
based.  Specific comments regarding research objectivity due to source of
funding were both unqualified and unsupported. 

Any assertions regarding the professional integrity of Dr. Dale Bauman
made by Ms. Wiggert were unwarranted.  Dr. Bauman is a highly respected
scientist, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, with a
distinguished research record.  His many years of exceptional research in
the dairy sciences is beyond reproach, and we retract any comments made by
Ms. Wiggert which insinuated otherwise. 

The National Agricultural Library, as a USDA agency, supports current
policy pertaining to recombinant bovine somatotropin.  The USDA supports
the decision by the Food and Drug Administration that this product does
not pose a human health risk and is safe for use. 

The distribution of information by electronic means remains in its
infancy, and standards for the ethical use of this medium are still
developing.  It holds great promise to facilitate the exchange of ideas
and information. However, this powerful medium can be used improperly to
disseminate unsupported claims to a global audience.  In some respects the
medium functions as an immediate global newspaper, and as such the
"stories" that it contains need to be as accurate and truthful as
possible. By neglecting this responsibility, we run the risk of
diminishing the role that electronic communication will have in the
future.  We regret that this incident occurred and have taken actions to
prevent future lapses in objectivity and professionalism. 

Pamela Andre
Acting Director
National Agricultural Library

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