- Thoughts on Funding and Sound Science
- Policy and Politics
- Ag Biotech – Patenting and Intellectual Property Issues
- Ag Biotech- Marketing, Economics, and Public Relations
- Ag Biotech- Regulation of GE Crop Technology
Science marches on, but what guides its direction? Who benefits from questions asked and answered? Who pays a price when scientific uncertainty or controversy leads to gridlock?
As respected agricultural journalist Jerry Hagstrom argues in a provocative 2015 piece in The National Journal, “Agriculture has a science problem”. The root of the problem is the increasing dominance of private sector science in deciding regulatory issues, what goes on food labels, government R+D priorities, and what the government recommends, or allows, in the food supply.
Private interests are going to always put their best foot forward. The job of pesticide, food, biotechnology, and animal health care companies is gain and hold market share and earn profits, not to create new knowledge and advance science.
As state and federal academic research programs have been cut over the last 20 years, Deans and Experiment Station directors have reached out to private companies to explore “mutual interests.”
It has been a slippery slope. Corporations are now providing a significant share of the extramural research funding in most core ag science disciplines in a majority of land grant colleges and universities, as documented in the 2012 Food and Watch report “Public Research, Private Gain”. This means companies have considerable influence on what gets studied, who has access to the tools of science, what gets published and where, and what scientists are free to say.
The agricultural and food industry, and public institutions serving their needs, have lost the confidence of many consumers and independent scientists because of a pattern of self-serving, and incorrect positions. The increasingly aggressive, multi-faceted campaigns to silence or marginalize scientists who see things differently, or raise unwelcome questions, also is contrary to the fundamental principles through which science advances.
- “Identity Crisis: Land Grant Research in the Biotechnology Era,” Michigan State University staff paper, 2000
- “Genetic researchers cite specter of profits: Asilomar Scientists say demands for financial gain threaten public health by concealing dangers,” San Jose Mercury News, 2000
- “The Green Revolution Yields to the Bottom Line,” The New York Time, 2001
- “Is the university-industrial complex out of control?,” Nature, 2001
- Karen Oberhauser (University of Minnesota) comments to EPA on reassessment of time-limited registrations for Bt plant-pesticides, 2001
- 2001 San Francisco Chronicle article about the “Working Together, Creating Knowledge: The University-Industry Research Collaboration Iniative” report
- “Amazing Disgrace,” 2002 article in The Ecologist about the Mexican maize scandal and Monsanto PR efforts
- Discussion and Author Response on GM Maize Multiomics Analysis in Nature: Scientific Reports, December 2016
- “From Asbestos to Pesticides to Pork,” 2016 article on Exponent, one of the leading firms for industry-sponsored science
- Letter to the Editor on scientific transparency, Nature Biotechnology, 2016
- Meta-analysis of outcomes of nutrition studies with industry sponsorship, 2016, JAMA Internal Medicine
- “Under the Influence: The National Research Council and GMOs,” Issue Brief, 2016
- The New York Times, 2015, “Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show”
- “GMOs: Dogma Instead of Science,” London Progressive Journal, 2015
- “Food For Thought: Researchers Investigating Different Farming Practices Should Not Have to Pick Sides”, 2014, Nature
- Letter to the Editor on science-based risk assessment, Nature Biotechnology, 2013
- USDA 2013 Departmental Regulation on Scientific Integrity
- USDA Scientific Integrity Policy Handbook, 2013
- Food & Water Watch 2012 Report, “Public Research, Private Gain”
- Letter to the EPA from National Academy of Sciences members on GMO policy updates, 2011
- 2011 article in Food Policy about conflict of interests in GMO research
- “Battlefield,” 2009 Article in Nature about the scientific debate about whether biotech crops harm the environment
- 2008 EPA public comment from corn insect scientists on GMO research
- Neil Harl white paper, “Relevance of the Land Grant Mission in the Twenty-First Century”