Academics and consumer advocates are getting a little worried about how this country funds agricultural research.
According to an Associated Press article in the Washington Post:
A recent study by Food and Water Watch, a Washington-based environmental group, shows that nearly one-quarter of the money spent on agricultural research at land-grant universities comes from corporations, trade associations and foundations, an all-time high. Financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture accounts for less than 15 percent, the lowest level in nearly two decades.
According to the article, Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety, said that the corporate money does not unduly influence the direction of the academic research.
“Industry does not tell me how to spend that money,” he told the Associated Press. “But I ask the industry, ‘What are the areas you are interested in?’”
That’s part of the problem, says Food and Water Watch. As the organization’s report put it, extensive corporate funding of agricultural research “discourages independent research that might be critical of the industrial model of agriculture and diverts public research capacity away from important issues such as rural economies, environmental quality and the public health implications of agriculture.”