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White House Criticized for Editing Climate Change Testimony

Bush administration officials admit that they heavily edited testimony on climate change delivered to Congress Tuesday by the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Senate Democrats are seeking an investigation into what occurred in the White House review of the report on global warming and public health. VOA's Leta Hong Fincher has more.

The prepared testimony by the Centers for Disease Control included many examples of how global warming is likely to cause major public health problems. It cited water and food-borne infectious diseases and heat related illnesses.

Many of the details in CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding's Senate testimony were deleted, though she did link global warming to health. She says, "Weather is inextricably linked to health. We see that in the kinds of weather events that occur every day. We see it seasonally, with the relationship to influenza. We see it over years in the consequence of things like El Nino. And I believe we'll see this on a much longer time frame in the context of our changing climate."

U.S. news media reports, quoting unnamed sources, said the Bush administration cut more than half of Dr. Gerberding's prepared Senate testimony --- from 14 pages down to six pages. White House officials removed statements such as the "CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern."

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says the testimony was cut because it did not match a recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. "We have experts and scientists across this administration that can take a look at that testimony and say, this is an error or this doesn't make sense."

One of the lead authors of the IPCC report says Dr. Gerberding's original testimony was scientifically accurate. Dr. Jonathan Patz is an environmental health professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He says, "I do not find any grounds that anything should have been excluded by the administration."

Dr. Gerberding said in a statement Wednesday that the editing did not change the underlying message of her testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. But Senate Democrats, including Chairman Barbara Boxer, wrote President Bush stating that the public has a right to know all of the facts about global warming and the threat it poses to their families and communities.