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CHEMISTRY FIRST RECOGNIZED




In the organic act establishing the Department of Agriculture in 1862, no scientific department was mentioned. The Commissioner evidently regarded chemistry as the dominant science in the promotion of agriculture. The first scientist appointed in the Department of Agriculture was the chemist, Prof. Charles Wetherell, of Philadelphia. The activities of the chemist were first designated as the Division of Chemistry. At a latter date a more resounding title was adopted, namely, "Bureau." The term "Bureau" has since then been extended as a name to many activities, not only in the Department of Agriculture but in all the other departments and subdivisions of scientific research. The whole activities of the Government from the organizing point of view are now designated as "Bureaucracy." In the present agricultural appropriation bill, as passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, this original activity of the Department, viz., the Bureau of Chemistry, has been eliminated. This was done without any action of Congress, except as found in the appropriation bill. The rule of. procedure forbids the inauguration of new legislation in an appropriation bill. Unfortunately, when the bill was before the House of Representatives no one interposed a point of order on the abolition of the Bureau of Chemistry. The Food and Drugs Act specifically charges the Bureau of Chemistry with its enforcement. The present appropriation bill, 1927-28, not only destroys the Bureau of Chemistry, but violates the law in transferring the activities of food administration to a new unit under the immediate supervision of the Secretary of Agriculture.

Naturally one of the great problems of chemistry in its application to agriculture is the study of the soil. The Bureau of Chemistry did not neglect this primary activity. There was established in the Bureau the most extensive soil investigation that had ever been attempted. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the natural productivity of soils, gathered from all quarters, and kept under standard environment of light, moisture and temperature. Typical soils were secured from the various states of the Union. There was added to this collection samples of the. celebrated field at Rothamsted, England, which had been cultivated in wheat for nearly one hundred years without receiving any artifical fertilizer whatever. In the midst of these investigations a new Bureau of Soils was created in the Department of Agriculture, entirely distinct from the Bureau of Chemistry. At the demand of this new Bureau of Soils all activities of the Bureau of Chemistry in the progress of its investigations were ordered discontinued and the expensive equipmeni was abandoned and destroyed. At the instigation of this new Bureau of Soils, publication of the data already obtained was denied.

The small remnant of the Bureau of Chemistry after its separation from the enforcement of the Food and Drugs Act, under this illegal action, has been combined with the Bureau of Soils and has practically lost its identity.

Chemists in particular in this country should be inquisitive in regard to the enactment of such illegal provisions, demolishing a great Bureau fundamentally related to the greatest problems in Agricultural research and public welfare. The handicap which the small remnant of the old Bureau will encounter when it is combined with the dominant Bureau of Soils, creates a doubt of the most serious character as to its future prosperity. The theories on which the Bureau of Soils has heretofore been conducted have never received the approbation of competent soil chemists in this or in any other country. Among those may be mentioned three of great renown, namely Professor Hilgard, of the University of California, Professor Hopkins of the University of Illinois, both now passed to their reward, and Sir Daniel Hall of England, former Director of the famous Agricultural Experiment Station at Rothamsted, and now attached to the. ministry of health. When changes of this stupendous character can be made in a way which is thoroughly illegal and undesirable, it is a threat to the progress and welfare of chemistry in the whole country. In former days the Bureau of Chemistry was a power in the land. Beginning its activities in 1863, in 1883 it led the long fight for the enactment of the Food and Drugs Bill, which was finally accomplished on the 30th of June, 1906. When this law went into effect on the first of January, 1907, the Bureau of Chemistry had already made ample preparations for its enforcement. It had conducted a long series of experiments upon healthy young men for the purpose of determining the effects of preservatives and coloring matters in foods on health and digestion. It had secured from the Congress authority to formulate food standards which came into play on the day the Act was to be enforced.

The Bureau of Chemistry started to enforce this Act in the light of this preparation. Under the law the Bureau was the sole judge, in its capacity as grand juror, as to whether any sample of food or drugs was adulterated or misbranded. Its decision was not final, except as to the bringing of an indictment. The final decision of all these points was placed by Congress, very properly in the Federal Courts, where it naturally belonged. Those who adulterated our foods and drugs foresaw that if they could cripple the activities of the Bureau of Chemistry, they could save themselves from indictments. They proceeded along successful lines to effect this paralysis. The decisions of the Bureau in regard to adulterants and coloring matters and in regard to proper names and labels were speedily overturned contrary to the provisions of the law. The Solicitor of the Department and the Secretary thereof joined in this destruction of the functions of the Bureau. These restrictions and illegal limitations on the Bureau have never been removed and finally the Bureau itself was sacrificed, crucified and abolished.







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