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How Corporations Like Monsanto Have Hijacked Higher Education

Academic research is often dictated by corporations that endow professorships, give money to universities, and put their executives on education boards.

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The unholy trinity of industry, government and academics promoting industrial agriculture and de-emphasizing or dismissing sustainable methods has a long history and it continues today. In its report, Food and Water Watch advocates a return to robust federal funding of research at land grant universities. But government is hardly immune from serving the corporate agenda either.

Take, for example, Roger Beachy, the former head of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the agency in the USDA that doles out research grants. Beachy spent much of his career as an academic, collaborating with Monsanto to produce the world's first genetically engineered tomato. He later became the founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Monsanto's non-profit arm, before President Obama appointed him to lead NIFA.

As Schwab noted, policy is often based on research, but good policy requires a basis in unbiased, objective research. In a system in which corporations and government both fund research, but due to the revolving door, the same people switch between positions within industry, lobbying for industry, and within government, what is the solution? 

 

Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. .

 
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