Funding has Turned Science-Based Evidence into Science-Biased Propaganda
“science” has tainted our world and turned science-based evidence
into science-biased propaganda. Universities are laundering money through
foundations to intentionally hide relationships, while scientists secretly
nurture their relationships with corporate executives.
go unpublished, the peer review process is so weak only studies that challenge
industry interests are heavily scrutinized (usually by scientists hired
by corporate public relations firms). Media is paid handsomely to ensure
the public that “the science is settled,” especially when corporate
liability is a primary concern.
Raw data is
held captive, conflicts of interest are not fully disclosed and studies
are designed to specifically obtain a desired outcome.
no secret that academic research is often funded by corporations. Academia
often claims that such funding allows for innovation and does not influence
the outcome of the studies. Industry, too, claims that such relationships
do not influence the scientific process.
Luke Gibbs even told The New York Times, “Syngenta does not pressure
academics to draw conclusions and allows unfettered and independent submission
of any papers generated from commissioned research.” 
Ph.D., a pollination ecology researcher with the University of Exeter in
England, had a different take on the matter, however. He spoke openly to
the Times about his relationship with the pesticide giant, which included
Syngenta-funded research into what’s causing bee colonies to die.
reservations about receiving corporate funding, he did accept it, and soon
after began to see the effects of this supposedly independent relationship.
“The last thing I wanted to do was get in bed with Syngenta,”
Cresswell told the Times.
no fan of intensive agriculture [but] … absolutely they influenced
what I ended up doing on the project.” 
Pressured Researchers to Accept Corporate Money
foray into the world of corporate-funded research started when his initial
research caused him to question whether neonicotinoid pesticides were to
blame for bee deaths.
which are produced by Bayer and Syngenta, have been implicated in the decline
of bees, particularly in commercially bred species like honeybees and bumblebees
(though they’ve been linked to population changes in wild bees as
well). In 2012, Syngenta offered to fund further research by Cresswell on
It was an offer
Cresswell felt he couldn’t refuse. “I was pressured enormously
by my university to take that money,” Cresswell told the Times. “It’s
like being a traveling salesman and having the best possible sales market
and telling your boss, ‘I’m not going to sell there.’
You can’t really do that.” 
of Exeter spokesman said up to 15 percent of academic research in Britain
is funded by industry and that such sponsors are independently analyzed.
case, he and Syngenta agreed on a study looking into eight potential causes
of bee deaths, including a disease called varroosis, which is spread by
varroa mites. Pesticide makers have argued that it’s the mites, not
pesticides, that are killing bees, but Cresswell’s research didn’t
find such a link.
Research to Fit Industry Agendas
When he reported
the findings to Syngenta, they pushed back, suggesting he tweak the study
in various ways, such as looking at specific loss data in beehives instead
of bee stock trends and focusing on data from specific countries or only
in Europe, as opposed to worldwide.
After the parameters
were changed, varroosis became a significant factor in bee colony losses,
according to Cresswell’s research. It’s a clear-cut example
of how scientific research can be easily manipulated to fit the sponsor’s
agenda, a practice that’s well known to occur in pharmaceutical research.
In a tongue-in-cheek
essay in the British Medical Journal, titled “HARLOT — How to
Achieve Positive Results Without Actually Lying to Overcome the Truth,”
 it’s wittily explained exactly how industry insiders can help
make their agenda, in this case drugs, look good: 
their drug with one that is known to work well. This can hide the fact
that a tested medication is weak or ineffective.
a trial. Drugmakers sometimes end a clinical trial when they have reason
to believe that it is about to reveal widespread side effects or a lack
of effectiveness — or when they see other clues that the trial is
in very small groups. Drug-funded researchers also conduct trials that
are too small to show differences between competitor drugs. Or they use
multiple endpoints, then selectively publish only those that give favorable
results, or they ‘cherry-pick’ positive-sounding results from
Will Work to Discredit Scientists That Produce Unfavorable Findings
willingly embrace corporate funding for their research, including James
W. Simpkins, Ph.D., a professor at West Virginia University and the director
of its Center for Basic and Translational Stroke Research. Simpkins has
conducted studies for Syngenta regarding the herbicide atrazine.
The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) specifically cited research by Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D.,
an integrative biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, which
found atrazine may be chemically castrating male frogs, essentially turning
them into female frogs.
Hayes used to
conduct research for Novartis, which eventually became Syngenta, but he
resigned his contractor position after the company refused to allow him
to publish the results of studies they had funded.
he obtained independent funding to repeat the research, which was subsequently
published and found that atrazine causes hermaphroditism in frogs. Syngenta
attempted to discredit Hayes after the damaging research was released.
research, which he often co-authors with Syngenta scientists, continues
to support atrazine’s supposed safety.
to receiving funding for research, Simpkins also receives $250 an hour from
Syngenta to consult on expert panels and is involved in a consulting venture
with a Syngenta executive, according to the Times, after a Freedom of Information
donated $30,000 to a West Virginia University foundation to support Simpkins’
University Foundations Hide Corporate Funds
is a non-governmental entity that is typically established to make grants
to institutions or individuals for scientific and other purposes. Donors
often give money to foundations instead of to the university itself, in
part, because foundations have a fiduciary responsibility to represent the
money given to a foundation can be kept private in order to protect the
donor’s identity and does not become public record.  It provides
the perfect opportunity for industry corporations like Syngenta and others
to pay for research on their behalf without receiving any public scrutiny
for doing so.
The James G.
Martin Center for Academic Renewal, which is dedicated to improving higher
education in North Carolina and the U.S., noted that many researchers refer
to foundations as “slush funds” and “shadow corporations
that too often operate in secrecy, despite spending taxpayers’ money
[although foundations are often supported by donations as well].”
to gain access to university foundations’ activities, contributions
and spending. Records are often considered to be off limits, which means
corporations can easily channel funds to the universities they believe will
give them the best pay-off in the form of favorable research.
The James G.
Martin Center for Academic Renewal quoted David Cuillier, Ph.D., director
of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, as saying: 
think there are a ton of flags that need to be raised when it comes to
university foundations. I think it’s one of the most underreported
scams in America. It’s total slush fund … What a great way
to hide money for a university.’
said foundations have allowed universities to hide ‘wrongdoing,
and questionable expenditures’ because foundations usually aren’t
subject to public records laws, and may not comply with them in states
where they are.
and foundations often claim that protecting donors’ privacy is key
to keeping fundraising avenues open, but making such information public
is in the public’s interest. Frank LoMonte, executive director of
the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., told the Columbia Journalism
donors are buying influence with public agencies is the information that
the public needs the most … It’s ironic that the institutions
that claim they’ll be unable to raise money if they can’t protect
their donors’ privacy will engrave their donors’ names in 10-foot-high
letters into the facades of buildings.
Confidentiality Agreements Silence Researchers
used by corporations to control science is confidentiality agreements. Syngenta
predecessor Ciba-Geigy had a confidentiality agreement with Switzerland-based
agricultural research center Agroscope.
So when one
of their researchers, Angelika Hilbeck, Ph.D., found problems with genetically
engineered corn (specifically that it appeared to be toxic to a beneficial
insect, lacewing, which eats other pests), the corporation ordered her to
keep the results secret.  Hilbeck ultimately published the results anyway,
and her contract with Agroscope was not renewed. According to the Times:
Hilbeck continued as a university researcher and was succeeded at Agroscope
by Jörg Romeis, [Ph.D.,] a scientist who had worked at Bayer and
has since co-authored research with employees from Syngenta, DuPont and
other companies. He has spent much of his career trying to debunk Dr.
Hilbeck’s work [and has since become the leader of Agroscope’s
biosafety research group].
US Biotechnology Panel Financially Tied to Biotech Industry
panels are not immune from industry ties. In fact, they’re prime targets
for conflicts of interest. The latest scandal involves a panel studying
biotechnology, which is expected to give advice to The National Academies
of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which in turn provides policy guidance
to the U.S. government. Of the 13 experts named to the panel, seven have
potential conflicts of interest. This includes: 
M. Amasino, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
who holds various biotechnology patents
Wolt, Ph.D., professor of agronomy and toxicology at Iowa State University,
who has a commercial interest that violates the organization’s conflict
of interest policy
P. Bradbury, Ph.D., professor of environmental toxicology at Iowa State
University, who owns a consulting firm that advises companies on biotechnology
Murray, Ph.D., professor of bioengineering at the California Institute
of Technology, who co-founded Synvitrobio, a synthetic biology (i.e.,
genetic engineering) start-up
L. Evans, Ph.D., fellow in seeds discovery research and development at
Dow AgroSciences, which has major interests in the biotechnology industry
Rules Influenced by Corporate-Funded Research
of industry-funded research reach far and wide — even to your dinner
table. In investigative journalist Gary Taubes’ new book, “The
Case Against Sugar,” you can read how food companies manipulated research
to make sugar a mainstay of Americans’ diets.
As it became
increasingly clear that excess sugar was linked to rising rates of obesity,
diabetes and other chronic diseases, the Sugar Association, an industry
trade group, stepped in to combat it by funding industry-friendly research
and attacking the credibility of researchers that found otherwise.
worth of research convincingly shows excess sugar damages your health,
yet the sugar industry managed bury the evidence and cover it up with
faux science that supports sugar as an important food. According to The
Wall Street Journal: 
efforts were successful enough to influence the language of FDA [U.S.
Food and Drug Administration] reports on sugar in 1977 and 1986, as well
as the first government-compiled Dietary Guidelines, released in 1980,
which unsurprisingly declared that fat caused disease.”
research is far from, well, an exact science, when industry funding is involved
it may be virtually impossible for scientific truth to be heard. Whether
the subject is sugar, pesticides or biotechnology is irrelevant. Although
most researchers and sponsoring companies will insist the research is sound
and unbiased, it’s well-known that industry-funded research almost
always favors industry.