Hello, Con —

Thanks for the comment and link that you provided. As indicated in the Buzzfeed 
news item, no one has any idea right now about how things will unfold over the 
next four years.  However, the dictum from Trump will only affect scientists 
employed by USDA, and so far as I can recall, they have never participated very 
much with this discussion group.  In fact, with a few prominent and excellent 
exceptions, they have had relatively little interface directly with fruit 
growers, although they have provided valuable networking interactions with 
university scientists and extension folks at professional meetings. In fact, 
USDA scientists have always had more restrictions on releasing information to 
the public than do university scientists.  Most of the scientists and extension 
folks who have contributed to this discussion list have been employed by either 
states or counties, usually in affiliation with our land-grant universities.

Theoretically, scientists employed by universities have great lattitude in what 
they say and with whom they can speak because they are protected under the 
concept of “academic freedom.”  However, the only real protections under 
academic freedom apply to tenured faculty within universities, whereas other 
employees, including most in extension, are often subjected to more pressure to 
avoid contentiious statements or even contentious subject matter.  In many 
universities within the US, scientists being hired to do applied work are now 
being hired into non-tenured professional positions rather than into tenure 
track positions as was the tradition over the prior 100 years. That means that 
they no longer have the full "academic freedom” protections and could be 
subjected to the same limitations on communications that Trump has announced 
for USDA scientists if their university or extension supervisors should choose 
to apply a gag order.

However, even tenured faculty really do not have complete “academic freedom”, 
especially in the early phases of their careers.  Saying or publishing 
information that puts your administrators in a bad light or generates push-back 
from the public will often create so much tension (or reduction in funding and 
future opportunities) that most scientists, even when tenured, will think 
carefully about what they say, what subject matter they will investigate, or 
what parts of their research they will eventually release. Thus, although we as 
scientists like to believe that we are always in pursuit of the truth, those 
who wish to remain employed will usually find that there are limits concerning 
which truths they pursue and/or release to the public. So in reality, I’m 
afraid that there really is no such thing as “pure science” or “untainted 
facts.”  Nevertheless, I hope and believe that most of what we as scientists 
produce has more credibility than the “alternative facts” that are now in vogue 
in Washington.

One parting shot: Many of those who voted for Trump claimed to favor a strict 
and narrow interpretation of our constitution. How ironic, then, that within a 
few days of taking office, Trump is already limiting free speech among those 
over whom he can exert direct control :)  Stay tuned, there will be much more 
to come :(

Dave Rosenberger
Plant Pathologist (retired) at Cornell’s Hudson Valley Lab
Highland, NY

> On Jan 24, 2017, at 8:16 AM, Con.Traas <con.tr...@ul.ie> wrote:
> Hello to all from Ireland.
> We're having a very mild winter but trees still dormant at the moment, and at 
> least pruning is progressing well.
> I note from the article below that the ability of public sector staff to 
> contribute via a group such as this may become limited. 
> However I would be very hopeful that all growers make good on any deficit 
> that might arise. I look forward to many years of happy discussion of all 
> things apple.
> Con Traas
> The Apple Farm
> Ireland
> https://www.buzzfeed.com/dinograndoni/trump-usda?utm_term=.swOPx7BX7#.dsPjm5B85
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