‘Raw Milk and Safety’
Your editorial (June 3), “Raw Milk and Safety,” was right on point.
My subcommittee on health and the environment held a hearing in Los Angeles on Feb. 13 to explore the controversy about the health effects of raw milk. Witnesses representing both sides of the issue were called, including the physician who is now being sued for $110 million by the dairy that produces and profits from the sale of raw milk.
The dairy’s suit apparently seeks damages for statements made by that physician before the subcommittee during our Los Angeles hearing. Your editorial notes that this suit may be a move to intimidate persons from discussing in public scientific evidence that raises doubts about the safety of raw milk products.
But this particular action may be more than intimidation. It may well be a violation of a federal law designed to protect witnesses appearing before congressional committees (Section 1505 of Title 18 of the Federal Criminal Code). A suit against a scientist or any other witness for testimony presented to a congressional committee may have a chilling effect on the willingness of others to come forward to give their opinions.
Efforts to intimidate witnesses before congressional committees cannot be tolerated. Such acts threaten to undermine the legislative branch’s responsibility to assure that the nation’s laws are properly administered.
Scientists on both sides of an issue, indeed all citizens, must be certain that they can speak freely to the Congress on matters of public policy. In particular, where consumers need to make rational health decisions, attempts to stifle the flow of information must be strongly resisted.
HENRY A. WAXMAN
Member of Congress