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In science as in politics, most people agree that transparency is essential. Top journals now require authors to disclose their funding sources so that readers can judge the possibility of bias. . . But as transparency becomes the standard, many academics are resisting the trend without pushback from their universities.
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One name that often comes up in these transparency scandals is the agrochemical company Monsanto. Chicago public radio recently ran a story on the University of Illinois, where professor Bruce Chassy helped Monsanto route gifts for him through a university’s foundation. Chassy then accessed this money to pay expenses for biotechnology outreach to scientists, policymakers and the public, but never disclosed Monsanto’s involvement.
And last year, the New York Times revealed that Monsanto had enlisted academics in a public relations campaign against tightening regulations on genetically modified organism crops. One researcher at the University of Florida, Kevin Folta, received $25,000 from Monsanto to educate voters and fellow scientists about GMOs.
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. . . . An obvious remedy is to extend a law like the Physician Payments Sunshine Act to other areas of science, requiring all industries to report when they fund academics. In fact, a leading scholar has suggested that failing to disclose funding should be considered research misconduct. But disclosure is only a first step.
Universities need to put the public interest first and exclude some academic-corporate relationships. . . .
Disclosure and restrictions do not harm academic freedom. These policies still allow scientists to pursue research, while ensuring that public health is not put at risk in service of corporate profit.
Read full, original post: Op-Ed In science, follow the money – if you can