Metz and Fütterer reply
The accusations of Worthy et al. about our Brief Communication1 do not relate to the scientific data of Quist and Chapela4. Our concern was exclusively over the quality of the scientific data and conclusions, which would have been the same whatever the motivation of the criticism.
Bad science can only undermine our understanding of nature, and the making of constructive public policy. The statement that “commercially vested interests” (that is, ties to Syngenta/ Novartis) are “central to” criticisms of the data in ref. 4 is as useless in addressing the scientific issues as would be an accusation that these data were tainted by a grudge between Chapela and his former employer (the same company). Although our connections to industry are irrelevant to the scientific issues, and hence do not warrant disclosure, we feel compelled to dispel the mischaracterization of Worthy et al.. One of us (M. M.) had TMRI funding for only one-sixth of his study at UC Berkeley, and the other's (J. F.) alleged link to TMRI relies entirely on someone else's former Berkeley association. Both of us currently have research funding exclusively from the public sector.
We are not unlike many scientists in that we have shared research and funding with industry at some point. In stating that we have “compromised positions”, Worthy et al. wrongly imply that private-sector funding strips us of integrity and legitimacy in the arena of scientific discourse. Far from promoting “scientific freedom and balance”, this presumption tars any scientist who can be suggested to have worked with the private sector. The only threat to academic freedom that seems to have materialized from the Berkeley/TMRI collaboration is this attitude towards scientists who might have industry links.
Metz, M. & Fütterer, J. Nature 416, 600–601 (2002).
Kaplinsky, N. et al. Nature 416, 601 (2002).
Quist, D. & Chapela, I. H. Nature 416, 602 (2002).
Quist, D. & Chapela, I. H. Nature 414, 541–543 (2001).
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Environmental protection: applying the precautionary principle and proactive regulation to biotechnology
Trends in Biotechnology (2008)