Protecting Scientific Integrity

Independent science is the best tool we have to solve the challenges facing society, but in recent years powerful monied interests have interfered with scientific integrity.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
June/July 2009
Add to My MSN

Money will always talk, but it shouldn't be allowed to compromise scientific integrity.

Content Tools

Related Content

The Many Benefits of Half the Oil

We can cut projected U.S. oil use in half over the next 20 years and create more than 1 million jobs...

Four Scientists on the State of Global Warming and Climate Change Science

Check out this compelling roundtable discussion of four expert climate change scientists.

NEW Scientific Organics: Organic natural skincare with advanced anti-aging results

emerginC, a leading professional skincare collection, has just launched a natural yet serious result...

Getting the Facts About the Global Warming E-mail Scandal

Learn why “Climategate” got so much attention, what scientists and skeptics are saying about it, and...

Today’s society faces unprecedented challenges, and we need accurate answers to many questions if we hope to make wise decisions about our future. Is global warming really happening? How fast is the Earth’s population growing? When will we run out of oil? The best way — probably the only way — to answer these vital questions is to rely on independent scientific research for guidance.

Over the past several centuries, science has enabled humans to do great things. But in recent history, a problem has developed. Interference, undue influence, and big money from vested interests have tainted scientific research at our universities and government research centers, thereby undermining scientific integrity. Our institutions are no longer able to ensure that their scientists have the independence that is essential to producing trustworthy scientific information.

There will always be disagreement and debate about the validity of research findings and their interpretations. And there will always be vested interests eager to influence research, either to protect their status quo or to promote new technologies. But when we allow those vested interests too much influence, it becomes impossible for us to separate fact from fiction.

Here’s a recent example that’s particularly troubling: Twenty-six corn researchers complained to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they do not have free access to study the controversial genetically engineered corn varieties now widely grown in the United States. Researchers must request permission from the companies that own these varieties in order to study them. Sometimes permission is denied, or the companies insist on reviewing research before it is published.

Hundreds of similar examples of interference have been documented. The Union of Concerned Scientists — a leading nonprofit focused on this issue — has issued several reports outlining problems at the EPA, the Food and Drug Administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and other agencies. One survey uncovered evidence of widespread political interference in climate change science conducted by federal researchers. No wonder some people still think global warming is a hoax!

The problem is not just in the government arena. University researchers report that they have to be careful about what work they choose to do, in case they anger the industries that often provide large donations to the universities. “Some projects could be career suicide for us,” one Kansas State University agriculture professor told us. At Harvard Medical School, students and faculty recently protested industry influence after it was revealed that 1,600 professors and lecturers had ties to businesses related to their academic work.

Whenever corporate or partisan political interests are allowed to interfere with science, the public loses. Independent science is the best tool available to help us solve the challenges we face. If we do not protect scientific integrity, we will become confused, angry, polarized, and unable to make the right choices to build a secure future.

To learn more about this issue and take action, go to What You Can Do from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Previous | 1 | 2 | Next

Post a comment below.


Pat Miketinac
8/23/2009 8:48:44 PM
A great example is the climate station located in Reno's heat bubble between runways 16L and 16R. I can just imagine the average CO2 and heat data that comes from that one with hot jet exhaust 24/7. see for data.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.