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THE ROLE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN
HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH
THURSDAY, JULY 14, 1983
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY, SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH
Washington, D.C. The joint hearing met, pursuant to call, at 9:35 a.m., in room 2325, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Doug Walgren (chairman of the Subcommittee on Science, Research and Technology) presiding
Mr. WALGREN. Today we start the third annual Human Nutrition Research oversight hearing held jointly by the Subcommittee on Science, Research, and Technology of the Science and Technology Committee, and the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Research, and Foreign Agriculture of the Agriculture Committee.
Our hearing today will focus on the views of the administration and the nutrition community regarding the role of the Federal Government in human nutrition research and how effectively that role is being fulfilled.
A clear definition of the appropriate role of the Federal Government is fundamental to the establishment of prudent nutrition research policies and programs in such an interdisciplinary science as this. And the Congress wants to play its role in trying to set that policy and review how the executive branch of Government responds in implementing that policy.
During the previous 2 years the administration has assured us that nutrition research was receiving high priority. In some instances there has been advancement, yet the status of several important activities has not advanced at all since last year.
For example, rather than conducting a review of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centers by the Board of Scientific Counselors, the Board was terminated. It is also disappointing that the evaluation committee of the National Nutrition Monitoring System has simply not been convened.
We realize that these are areas that involve a lot of different agencies; the pulling together of people who have different focuses for their roles in the Government. On the other hand, there is nothing more important in the long run than the question of nutrition. We do feel it is one that has not had the appreciation by many levels of our society that it clearly deserves.
It is also one that runs very directly into some special interests that we all know in our system play a major role. It is incumbent on all of us to see that we are not diverted from assuring the right effort is being made in this area.
We do recognize that progress has been made, yet it is clear that numerous questions remain before us. We wonder whether policymakers, and we include the Congress in that, have paid adequate attention to nutrition research priorities and the training of nutrition manpower to insure that long-range research needs can be met. We wonder whether nutrition research is benefiting as it could from the development of Government and industry and academic partnerships.
Does the present Federal structure provide adequate focus and stability for both basic and applied research in the nutrition area? And that includes social and behavioral aspects of the impact of proper nutrition.
Are new congressional initiatives needed to insure that innovative programs such as the Department of Health and Human Services Clinical Nutrition Research Units and the Department of Agriculture's competitive grants programs do not follow the fate of the National Science Foundation's nutrition program, which we now view as too lean and too short-lived to achieve its potential?
The answer to one question which we raised several years ago is disappointingly clear. We were interested in what role the Office of Science and Technology Policy could play in this area. We felt that guiding the Federal Government's role in its responsibility in areas that are as complex as this was the very reason that OSTP was established in the Executive Office. And yet, without seeking any advice from scientists, any advice from the parent committees on health and agriculture that are related and concerned with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, or any advice from the congressional committees represented here today, Dr. Keyworth abruptly terminated the Joint Subcommittee on Human Nutrition Research in that body.
While these are some of the problems, we will be interested to learn from the witnesses today how they view the health and the well-being of human nutrition research and our effort on the Federal level, and how all sectors of society can develop a partnership that can fulfill the contributions that we ought to be making, each of us, in our own areas in this particular effort.
[The opening statement of Hon. Doug Walgren follows:]
HON. DOUG WAL GREN
THE ROLE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH
JULY 14, 1983
TODAY BEGINS THE THIRD ANNUAL HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH OVERSIGHT HEARI NG HELD JOINTLY BY THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY AND THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS, RESEARCH AND FOREIGN AGRICULTURE. OUR HEAR I NG TODAY WILL FOCUS ON THE VIEWS OF THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE NUTRITION COMMUNITY REGARDING THE ROLE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH AND HOW EFFECTIVELY THAT ROLE IS BEING FULFILLED. A CLEAR DEFINITION OF THE APPROPRIATE ROLE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS FUNDAMENTAL TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
PRUDENT NUTRITION RESEARCH POLICIES, PRIORITIES AND PROGRAMS IN THIS
IMPORTANT INTERDISCIPLINARY SCIENCE.
DURI NG THE PREVIOUS TWO HEARINGS THE ADMINISTRATION HAS ASSURED US
THAT NUTRITION RESEARCH WAS RECEIVING HIGH PRIORITY, YET THE STATUS OF
SEVERAL IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES HAS NOT ADVANCED SINCE LAST YEAR.
EXAMPLE: RATHER THAN CONDUCTING A REVIEW OF THE USDA HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH CENTERS BY THE BOARD OF SCIENTIFIC COUNSELORS, THE BOARD WAS TERM I NATED; AND THE EVALUATION COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL NUTRITION
MONITOR I NG SYSTEM HAS NOT BEEN CONVENED.
AL THOUGH WE RECOGNIZE THAT PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE, NUMEROUS QUESTIONS
REMAIN BEFORE US.
INCLUDING THE CONGRESS, PAID
ADEQUATE ATTENTION TO NUTRITION RESEARCH PRIORITIES AND THE TRAINING
OF NUTRITION MANPOWER TO INSURE THAT LONG-RANGE RESEARCH NEEDS CAN BE MET? COULD NUTRITION RESEARCH BENEFIT FROM THE DEVELOPMENT OF GOVERNMENT/INDUSTRY/ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIPS? DOES THE PRESENT FEDERAL
STRUCTURE PROVIDE ADEQUATE FOCUS AND STABILITY FOR BASIC AND APPLIED RESEARCH INCLUDING THE SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL ASPECTS? ARE NEW
CONGRESSIONAL INITIATIVES NEEDED TO INSURE THAT INNOVATIVE PROGRAMS, SUCH AS THE DHHS CLINICAL NUTRITION RESEARCH UNITS AND THE USDA COMPETITIVE GRANTS NUTRITION PROGRAM DO NOT FOLLOW THE FATE OF THE NSF
NUTRITION PROGRAM, WHICH WAS TOO LEAN AND SHORT-LIVED TO ACHIEVE ITS
HOWEVER, THE ANSWER IS CLEAR TO ONE QUESTION WHICH I RAISED IN MY
OPENING REMARKS TWO YEARS AGO "WHAT WILL BE THE ROLE OF OSTP?" GUIDING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S ROLE, RESPONSIBILITY AND POLICY FOR COMPLEX ISSUES, SUCH AS NUTRITION, WHICH CUT ACROSS NUMEROUS DEPARTMENTS IS THE VERY REASON OSTP WAS ESTABLISHED IN THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE. YET, WITHOUT SEEKING ADVICE FROM THE SCIENTISTS, THE OSTP
PARENT COMMITTEES ON HEALTH AND AGRICULTURE, OR THE CONGRESSIONAL
COMMITTEES REPRESENTED HERE TODAY, DR. KEYWORTH ABRUPTLY TERMINATED THE JOINT SUBCOMMITTEE ON HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH.
WE WILL BE INTERESTED TO LEARN FROM OUR WITNESSES TODAY, HOW THEY VIEW
THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH AND HOW ALL SECTORS OF SOCIETY CAN DEVELOP A PARTNERSHIP TO FULFILL THEIR