Three points to consider regarding the post of organizational statements
about the safety of BST with regard to human health.:
According to an article in Biotechnology Newswatch, Aug. 16, 1993:
1.The AMA developed a promotional video for BST with a *grant from
Monsanto* in the range of $30,000.
2. Monsanto also contributed $50,000 to $100,000 to the American dietetic
Assoc. hotline. The 800 number for the hotline appears in public service
announcements during the AMA video.
3. Dr. Bauman has been a Monsanto-funded researcher for many years, and
has co-authored numerous articles on BST with Monsanto's own
researchers. (see bibliographies provided in "Bovine Somatotropin and
Emerging Issues: An Assessment", ed. by Milton Hallberg (1992).)
4. Dr. Bauman was an author of the OTA study included in his list, even
though OTA reports are supposed to be "independent".
[and in a second posting]
We are each free to draw our own conclusions. I'm sure I'm not the only
one who would question objectivity when money from the
maunfacturer of a drug has been offered to and accepted by someone
involved in evaluating the safety of said drug.
I have nothing to offer on the specific issue of BST and Dr. Bauman,
about which I know very little. However, I am interested in the
issue of questioning research results based on the source of funding.
It may not have been Lara's intention to raise the issue as it relates to
specific research projects, but she did trigger my thinking on the matter,
and it has certainly been raised elsewhere.
Having a wide suspicious streak myself, I am somewhat sympathetic to
those who question the results of research funded by an interested
party. However, other points should be noted. First,the majority of
scientists get funding from interested parties of some sort (who is more
likely to fund research than an interested party). The majority of those
scientists are objective and credible. Moreover, original work is subjected
to a peer review system which, while not perfect by any means, does serve as
a check on obvious fraud and poor technique. Given this, I suspect that
the majority of scientists would take offense if confronted face to face
with the inference that they lacked objectivity in their work or
Second, I would note that many scientists are at public institutions.
Usually their salaries, offices, labs, and significant parts of their
operating expenses are paid by the people as a whole. The only
stock-in-trade of these scientists is their credibility among their
peers and the public they serve. Chancing the loss of this credibility
is very risky business indeed. Risky enough to serve as a further check
on being lead astray by research funding.
Third, if scientists allow themselves to be subverted even unconsiously
by funding from Company A or Interest Group B, they better be getting a
career's worth of funding, because they have likely just cut themselves
off from funding by Company C or Interest Group D. Again, risky
business and a check on the system.
Fourth, if funding (and the desire to keep it coming) is corrupting,
then the source is immaterial. If a scientist takes a grant from an
environmental organization to look at the effects of an industrial
chemical on riverine systems and indeed finds and reports a negative
effect, will his or her work be questioned? What do you conclude about
the validity of the work of a scientist who has received grants from
both an interested industry and an interested "concern" group? Many
have, including, I suspect, some in the list of research groups that
started this thread.
Will some scientists sell their souls to keep research money coming in?
Unfortunately, probably so. Will some scientists fall into unconscious
error as a result of funding source? Almost certainly. I would argue
however, that the numbers would be small. Clearly, it would be best if
the money used to answer all questions of concern to the public came
from neutral sources. Just as clearly, the funds available from such
sources are inadequate and in decline. We are going to have to deal
with a system that includes research funded from interest groups and
How then should the public evaluate research, some of which may be
tainted, or at least perceived to be tainted? The answer is to look at
the entire body of research on a subject. If there is wide agreement
among scientists, funded by a variety of sources, that's likely the best
answer you will get. If there is conflicting evidence from credible
sources, then the jury is still out. Given an adequate number of
independent studies with similar conclusions, and absent conflicting
evidence, it paints with a very broad brush indeed to question results
solely on the basis of funding source. It seems to me to be unfair to
science and the public and is clearly unfair to individual scientists.
[Views stated here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my
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