Monsanto had asked the scientists to keep the raw data
confidential, and had said they "hope you will discuss any
any interpretation of the data with us before disclosing
it to third parties." This the scientists apparently did,
but when they submitted the results for publication
Monsanto refused to give permission (as required by the
editor of the journal) to allow the paper to be published.
Monsanto claimed that they had recently submitted a paper
on the same topic to the same journal. A year later the
UK group contacted the editor, and was told no such paper
had been submitted. Monsanto also refused permission to
a second journal. A third journal said it would publish
the paper without Monsanto's approval, but wanted
indemnification against copyright violations. This the
scientists were unwilling to give, and the analysis
remained unpublished until this report in Nature.
It seems to me these events raise a number of important
questions. A few are:
Why did it take a journal of the stature of Nature to finally
publish these results?
Why did Monsanto (or a regulatory agency) not do a statistical
analysis that was so obvious to an (admittedly astute)
Does Monsanto have a chilling effect on publication, in
addition to apparently actually blocking it in some cases?
Is this the only issue/product/company involved in such
No doubt this case will hit the popular press soon. It
deserves discussion there, but I think it's very important
for scientists to think about it too. Also, I know people
from Monsanto read this group--what do you have to say
Crop & Soil Sciences
Washington State Universtiy
Pullman, WA 99164-6420