Claire Robinson and Jonathan Latham, PhD published “The Goodman Affair: Monsanto Targets the Heart of Science” today (May 20th, 2013) in Independent Science News and simultaneously on Earth Open Source.
This article describes one of the most important ways that corporations ensure their viewpoint is heard over all others — by creating journals and by installing or otherwise manipulating editors on supposedly independent and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Robinson and Latham detail a series of examples of industry-friendly editorial decisions that seem intended to bias the science of genetically engineered plants.
The most recent case involves a scientific paper published in late 2012. The paper reported that a genetically engineered corn and the herbicide Roundup, both Monsanto products, caused organ damage and increased rates of tumors and premature death in rats (Seralini et al. 2012). The paper, published in the leading academic journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, caused an international storm of bad publicity for Monsanto and genetically engineered organisms. Three months later, a former Monsanto researcher with close ties to the biotech industry, Richard E. Goodman, joined the senior editorial staff of Food and Chemical Toxicology. The position, newly created for him, is “Associate Editor for biotechnology”. Is agribusiness calculating that by controlling the academic peer review process, it can choke off the flow of negative publicity at the source? What are the implications of editorial bias for the future of science? What are the publishing options left for scientists whose results don’t conform to industry wishes?
Reference: Séralini, G-E. et al. (2012) Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food Chem. Toxicol. 50: 4221–4231.