My point is that a lot of research conducted today is funded by ulterior motives, be it political, private interest, or a company like Monsanto. I fully expected a company like Monsanto to be engaged in this behaviour. The days of pure/basic research are dead, especially with funding from the public sector drying up.
edit: oops i meant to write principal investigator (PI)
This isn't the first time I've heard of something like this, but holy shit. Those actions should produce a reaction of alarm and outrage, but I'm sure many of us read that and shake our heads, thinking "that's terrible" – but not being shocked at all.
In a situation like that, is there a feasible way to seek "justice"? Does the organization (I assume a university?) overseeing the research lab have a policy & procedures in place to handle anonymous reporting of that behavior?
The only way to get "justice" is if you change the market so that the researchers have power, and this can only happen if researchers have enough stability and money to pick and choose research as they please. If you give them enough money, you hope that they make the right and ethical decisions (similar to why judges are paid so much).
So who then writes safety reviews ? Well, the same as for medicine : the company gets them written. Ideally by a somewhat neutral third party, but since they're paid by the guys who want things approved there's going to be problems here. Since the taxpayer won't pay for them, they are by necessity paid by the company wanting something reviewed. Those guys want these things approved and are paying the bills.
This is very much working as intended. Want a better system ? It will be much more expensive, as you'll effectively have to hire medicine experts away from companies like Monsanto + provide them with infrastructure.
I take issue with that statement, there is still a lot of basic research done that is publicly funded or funded via organisations like the Wellcome trust. My wife is in cancer research and there is no way anyone can influence her results. I also know her colleagues and two of them are also members of the Royal Society, and same thing goes for them.
With regards to privately funded research and applied science, yeah i do agree that there are serious issues but I think it also depends on the regulatory environment. As a counterexample, look at the recent study done in Europe that showed that neonics did have some harmful effects on bees in the wild. The research was paid for by Bayer and Syngenta and those results where published (Although Bayer and Syngenta disagreed with the conclusions, as one would expect).
Forgot to say: I also agree with you that funding situation is still not great but we're not yet at the point where there is NO public funded research
Yeah, this is why is absolutely paramount that we should push for all research studies to be disclosed to the public before actually conducting the research. For example, in the medical realm see http://policyaudit.alltrials.net/
 Or, rather, not take studies that haven't been pre-disclosed seriously. I have very little hope that this type of policy will become pervasive enough for all types of study, but medical research affects human lives so there's at least a little hope that it will become a government-mandated requirement for drugs that need approval.
Unless we change something we'll get Industry stifling new knowledge (as in your examples) and stagnating as a result of its own actions. All that said...somehow it's worked fairly well for centuries, so I'm reluctant to accept heinous actions like these as the status quo, even if corporations can usually be counted on to act in their own short-term best interests.
To be fair it hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies. There have been a lot of really bad problems caused by this unholy union. I'm not even sure it's net-better. The level of environmental destruction we've caused, combined with the difficulty of doing anything about said damage, could negate all of the benefits we've achieved.
That just sounds awful. Why must we privatize everything?
I have been wondering, could pure research work well with a crowd-funding model? In addition to applying for a grant, the PI would post a similar or identical application to Kickstarter & co. Stretch goals could be used to commission media-rich presentations that are true to the research, rather than leaving the original scientist-oriented study to be interpreted by rushed journalists.
It would be more straightforward to condition public funding on publishing all results.
"Monsanto leaks suggest it tried to ‘kill’ cancer research about weed killer (baumhedlundlaw.com"
I often dream of some news like "Independent research actually found to be independent".
The tldr; of that article is that Americans have had an increasing tendency to create our own realities and to believe anything we choose. This includes conspiracy theories like the government is purposely allowing cancer treatments to be withheld, as well as the idea that vaccines cause autism, etc. The article then goes on to suggest that choosing what to believe is part of being American. I don't necessarily agree, as I think the article was woefully inadequate in assessing the damage that financial interests play in willfully misleading people and creating a post-truth world.
Here on HN, I've had "debates" with people who nearly suggested that glyphosate is the greatest thing that ever happened to mankind. When I cautioned about safety concerns due to overuse, I got the standard pointer to the studies, etc. If you question the studies, then you find yourself being painted as some sort of anti-science conspiracy-theorist. This, when we essentially all know how research is done and the degree of rampant regulatory capture that exists.
I guess my point is that when many of the institutions we're supposed to trust are largely captured and firms that have direct financial incentive to mislead are allowed to decide what's real, then it is an assault on truth and reason. When we ignore this fact and encourage blind-belief in these institutions (worse, allowing them to act as proxies for "the ultimate truth of science"), then we are aiding in the creation of the very post-fact world we claim to abhor.
> The Expert Panel Members recruitment and evaluation of the data was organized and conducted by Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy (Intertek). The Expert Panelists were engaged by, and acted as consultants to, Intertek, and were not directly contacted by the Monsanto Company. Funding for this evaluation was provided to Intertek by the Monsanto Company which is a primary producer of glyphosate and products containing this active ingredient. Neither any Monsanto company employees nor any attorneys reviewed any of the Expert Panel's manuscripts prior to submission to the journal.
> Monsanto’s internal emails tell a different story. The correspondence shows the company’s chief of regulatory science, William Heydens, and other Monsanto scientists were heavily involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts submitted by the outside experts. At one point, Heydens even vetoed explicit requests by some of the panelists to tone down what one of them wrote was the review’s “inflammatory” criticisms of IARC.
The same source made hay out of Monsanto's efforts to push back against a study trying to establish a link between cancer and glyphosate. They neglect to mention that the study was Séralini's, and that it was famously criticized and eventually retracted.
I'm not trying to jump to their defense, but can you think of a situation where the opposite would happen? Think about it, any company that funds research is going to be a subject area in their market.
Unless there was a specific ethical issue here, this isn't "news", this is a thorn in the side of the [otherwise wonderful] free market.
On the other hand, the editing does appear to be cosmetic, with Monsanto wanting to skewer the IARC, and there are plenty of truly independent investigations into the effects of glyphosate. All of the science still says glyphosate is safe in the concentrations we encounter it in.
It and one of its degradates are found in the majority of drinking water or wastewater samples in some areas (different reports from different studies report 18% and 36% of samples undegraded, 68% and 69% of AMPA). It's typically far below what the EPA considers a safe level. That "safe level", of course, is set based on understanding the body of safety studies about it.
I grew up along a major river in the Midwest. I've been reading studies and study summaries about glyphosate for years. I'm less concerned, honestly, at the levels I see reported about it being a carcinogen than as a possible developmental neurotoxin and problem for reproduction.
It's also found to be potentially far more toxic as mixed in Roundup than in isolation.
Herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides, including the herbicide glyphosate, have been shown to potentially lead to gut microbe imbalances and other subtle biological changes like immune, endocrine, and neurological symptoms. Depression, autism, ADHD, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, birth defects, miscarriage, and lupus are among the disorders other than cancers found to be strongly correlated with working in or living near agriculture.
Again, a largely plant-based diet will help your health more than hurt it. Be sure to wash your food and maybe have some of it organic.
I'd like more and better studies on these chemicals, but neonicotinoids seem to be a much bigger long-term threat than glyphosate.
This system would only work if the company in question was trustworthy enough to not need regulation in the first place. In the real world it will never work.
Someone holding a different view than you do is not evidence of bad faith, and the internet trope of you-must-be-a-shill is poison. Since you've posted like this before, it's important that you fix this and not do it again.
You've also been uncivil in other comments, and that needs to stop too. Here's how to approach HN commenting: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; otherwise please don't comment until you do.