Critics have asserted that the Bush Administration has used politicalpressure and a brilliant public relations strategy to define their ownbrand of science during George Bush, Jr.'s term as U.S. president.

According to findings released by two public interest groups, scientistsand staff members working for the Food and Drug Administration saypolitical and commercial pressures are compromising their mission toprovide truthful and accurate public health and safety information.

The Union of Concerned Scientists and Public Employees for EnvironmentalResponsibility said their survey of 997 FDA staff members suggests the"culture of science is under attack and struggling at the FDA."

"Science must be the driving force for decisions made at the FDA. Thesedisturbing survey results make it clear that inappropriate interference isputting people in harm's way," said Francesca Grifo, a senior scientistwith the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In a statement the FDA disputed the conclusions and cast aspersions on thesurvey.

"The survey is highly unscientific, with a number of leading questions andinnuendo, and it is unclear what percentage of those who replied to it areactually involved in scientific decision making here at FDA," agencyspokeswoman Julie Zawisza said.

The survey found about 17 percent of respondents said they had been askedto exclude or alter technical information in an FDA documents, and morethan 40 percent said they knew of cases where political appointees hadinappropriately involved themselves in cases where they had commercialinterests.

The Bush administration has been under fire for distorting or censoringscientific findings at various government levels, with the FDA underadditional fire that it withheld approval of an over-the-counter emergencycontraceptive to appease religious conservatives. FDA experts involved withthe withdrawn painkiller Vioxx have reported government officials seekingretribution for reporting the risk of heart attacks associated with themillion-dollar money-making drug before it was pulled from the market.

The survey was sent earlier this year to 5,918 FDA scientists, and 997 or17 percent, responded, with the majority senior scientists. Only half ofthe responding scientists felt the FDA was effectively protecting thepublic health, and 70 percent said the Bush Administration has not providedsufficient resources to do the job.

Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley said the survey echoes viewsscientists report to Congress on a regular basis.