Today, the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Science and Technology Committee sent a letter (click HERE to see the letter) to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt asking for the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) to “promote a balanced research portfolio when examining the underlying causes for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). An examination of the FY07 ASD Research Portfolio shows a strong preference to fund genetic-based studies related to autism. There is growing evidence that suggests a wide range of conditions or environmental exposures may play a role in the emergence of ASD.”
The letter comes one day before a pivotal meeting of the IACC set to review an early draft of a portion of the Strategic Plan (SP) for autism research.
The SP was required as part of the unprecedented Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006 in which Congress called for a research agenda that specifically addressed cause (including environmental cause), treatment, and prevention of autism. The CAA listed 13 scientific fields but the only specific research topic mentioned in the legislative history was vaccines and their preservations as a possible cause of autism.
The Subcommittee further states in their letter,“Throughout the 1990’s there was a dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with ASD. It is unlikely that this increase is entirely attributable to the more accurate and vigilant diagnosis of the disorder.”
Along with the recommendations for further research into environmental factors, the letter asks Secretary Leavitt to appoint an Autism Advisory Board (AAB) which “should include voices that can articulate the full range of views and concerns in the ASD-community” and specifically names Generation Rescue, SafeMinds and Autism Research Institute (ARI) as 3 of the 6 “research-oriented organizations” to include on the Board.
The Subcommittee has been conducting investigations into several agencies including NASA, DOE and more recently held hearings on CDC’s testing of formaldehyde levels in Hurricane Katrina/Rita FEMA trailers. (Click HERE.)
This letter is the result of a year-long, collaborative effort between Generation Rescue, SafeMinds and the Investigation and Oversight Subcommittee. The letter will be presented at tomorrow’s IACC meeting in Bethesda, MD.
Kelli Ann Davis is the DC Political Liaison for Generation Rescue. She will read this letter at tomorrow’s IACC meeting; and it will enter into the public record.