One morning in early February I received an unusual email. It was from my colleague here at University of Florida, Dr. David Oppenheimer. It simply said, “FYI”, and was followed by a note from university General Counsel that email records were demanded back to 2012 under auspices of Florida Sunshine, or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws.
What did David and I do to precipitate this intrusive request?
We taught science.
David and I had answered questions on GMOAnswers.com, a website sponsored by companies such as Bayer Crop Science, Monsanto, Dow, and others. The website is intended to provide a portal for public access to independent academic and company experts that could address their questions about transgenic crop technology.
This public records request claimed to target scientists participating in GMOAnswers.com.
The request comes from US-Right to Know (US-RTK), an Oakland-based NGO. They suspect collusion because our interaction with the public matches and reinforces concepts in plant biology espoused by the seed manufacturers.
What they fail to realize is that our words parallel company claims because both are distilled from a scientific consensus built upon decades of data.
As scientists we need voice our outrage about such tactics.
More importantly, as scientists we all need to better connect with the public in the pop-controversial areas of science.
We must be conversant in the consensus syntheses of climate change, vaccines and transgenic crop technology. We all need to actively integrate into the science/society interface, teaching, and interpreting the scholarly literature. We must be honest, communicating the strengths and weaknesses, risks and benefits, to maintain and expand public trust.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: FOIAs Chilling a Scientific Dialog- Your Call to Communicate