1-21-08 by simpson
The prestigious Center for Science in the Public Interest has joined us in warning of the dangers Big Oil money poses to university research. In a report issued today CSPI says American universities may be jeopardizing their academic integrity by giving oil, gas, and other polluting industries unprecedented influence over the research those companies fund on campus.
CSPI surveyed nine major universities that have become part of “Big Oil U”. The schools are UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Davis, Georgia Institute of Technology, Princeton, MIT, Rice, Caltech, and Carnegie Mellon.
Merrill Goozner, director of CSPI’s Integrity in Science Project, had this comment about the companies:
“It’s a cheap subterfuge for carbon-emitting companies. They get the prestige of associating themselves with major respected universities, yet can control the direction of research and get first rights to intellectual property while delaying any finding that doesn’t help the bottom line. Meanwhile, the p.r. blitz surrounding these programs masks the fact that the carbon-emitting industries actually are spending much less on research and development than they did 10 or 15 years ago.”
Just before the CSPI study was distributed came word last week that Big Oil U has gone international. MIT announced a $50 million research deal with the giant Italian oil and energy company ENI.
CSPI recommends that universities accepting Big Oil money adopt policies to protect their autonomy and preserve their researchers’ autonomy. They include:
- Prohibiting representatives of corporate donors from sitting on research programs’ governing boards.
- Prohibiting industry donors from controlling the content and direction of research programs.
- Eliminating “first rights” intellectual property clauses from donor agreements.
- Ensuring that company representatives cannot make substantive editorial changes in manuscripts or delay their publication.
When are some of the nation’s finest universities going to realize that they are selling their academic souls in pursuit of corporate dollars? Who will provide trustworth research when the agenda is set by narrow corporate interests?