Science and Politics

August 20, 2004 • Volume 14, Issue 28
Is political manipulation of science getting worse?
By William Triplett

Introduction

One of the first cases to draw attention to the alleged corrupting influence of corporate money on research involved a 1985 study Monsanto Co. asked Cornell University to conduct on bovine growth hormone.  (USDA/Norman Watkins)
One of the first cases to draw attention to the alleged corrupting influence of corporate money on research involved a 1985 study Monsanto Co. asked Cornell University to conduct on bovine growth hormone. (USDA/Norman Watkins)

Political bickering over scientific research is intensifying. The Bush administration has attacked environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and warnings about global warming, claiming they are not based on sound science. But a distinguished group of scientists contends the administration distorts scientific information in order to support policies favored by the religious right and business interests. Questions also have been raised about the influence of corporate money on the integrity of government and academic science. Recently, it was revealed that many scientists at the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) were also working as paid consultants to drug companies whose fortunes could be affected by decisions the scientists made. And questions increasingly are being asked about the close ties developing between university researchers and corporations, which have become a growing source of funding for academic research.

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