Lobbying groups must be trustworthy

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Sir

I agree with H. Mohr that Greenpeace has no credibility when it comes to evaluating science (Nature 401, 524; 1999). Many of its activities and campaigns are based on propaganda rather than facts.

Academic research requires freedom from commercial competition and dependence. Mohr says he has enjoyed such freedom all his life, but this begs the question of whether this freedom is likely to be reduced if commercial interests arise. In cases where scientific results are open to different interpretations, scientists should not have a monopoly on opinion and answers, particularly on issues of public importance. Organizations representing the general public must have a say.

But these organizations must be trustworthy, rather than manipulating facts to suit their own agendas. People usually trust relief organizations, such as the Red Cross or Médecins sans Frontières, but these organizations generally avoid controversial issues. There are, however, numerous local organizations that are concerned with science in respect of both the environment and the production of food and other consumer goods. One example is Bellona in Oslo, recognized for its work with nuclear waste in the former Soviet Union. We need more of these types of organization at the international level, assuming they use acceptable methods.

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Haarstad, K. Lobbying groups must be trustworthy. Nature 402, 576 (1999) doi:10.1038/45066

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