Superb new report from Scientists for Global Responsibility. See executive summary and full report: Science and the Corporate Agenda: the detrimental effects of commercial influence on science and technology.


The press release in full:

A new report reveals that the pressure for scientific research to deliver on short-term commercial aims is compromising its ability to yield social and environmental benefits.

The report ‘Science and the corporate agenda’ states that even tax-payer funded research is now less likely to work in the broader public interest. These findings are based on extensive evidence across five sectors: pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, military/defence, biotechnology and tobacco.

The report, from Scientists for Global Responsibility, documents how more than two decades of government policy has driven a corporate agenda into the heart of universities, undermining their openness and independence. It highlights damaging effects in individual research studies, in the agenda-setting process for R&D, and in the communication of science to the public. The effects include:

* Research bias – Commercial funding frequently results in only those research findings favourable to the funder being reported. [3]

* Distorted research agendas – Short-term economic goals often shape academic research priorities. Research with social and environmental goals is frequently marginalised. [4]

* Covert funding of science communication – Interest groups, from climate sceptics to patient groups, have been funded to support an industry-friendly viewpoint.

* Conflicts of interest – Academics are increasingly tied into commercial relationships that are not properly monitored.

* Lack of openness – Commercial restrictions have become much more widespread and are impeding the free exchange of data.

The report makes a series of innovative recommendations, including:

* Measures for improving the transparency of links between researchers, business, and lobby groups;

* Ways to protect funding of blue-skies discovery and social and environmental research;

* Proposals for reviewing the role of the university.

Dr Stuart Parkinson, co-author of the report, says “We have gathered extensive evidence of the damaging effects of the commercial influence on science and technology. Urgent action – by government and others – is needed to resolve these problems. Without this, efforts to tackle climate change, global insecurity and health inequalities will be undermined.”