11 September 2000
‘Industry takes over ivory towers’

By Fwi Staff

BIG business has hijacked academic institutions and government bodies which finances research, claims George Monbiot in The Guardian.

British company Zeneca — which merged with Astra of Sweden in 1999 &#151 has a laboratory at Cambridge University, reports Prof Monbiot.

A former executive director of the same company now chairs the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

And its employees sit on the board of the seven BBSRC committees which oversee the dispersal of 190m funds to British biologists.

The council also pays for the secondment of academics to work for biotech companies, says Prof Monbiot.

More disturbing, claims Prof Monbiot, is the research councils whose purpose is to identify research priorities and which often favour business concerns.

Areas he highlights include committees dealing with fruit and vegetables, dairy products and the meat industry.

Prof Monbiot argues that as big business infiltrates the research agenda wider zones of inquiry are placed off-limits.

He says it was left to volunteers to investigate pollen flows on government GM test sites, because researchers were not considering this.

  • The Guardian 11.09/2000 G2 page 2 and 3