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Tue Jun 12, 2012, 03:05 AM

Institute’s Gas Drilling Report Leads to Claims of Bias and Concern for a University’s Image

Source: NY Times

A report from a new institute at the State University at Buffalo asserting that state oversight has made natural gas drilling safer is causing tumult on campus and beyond, with critics arguing that the institute is biased toward industry and could undercut the university’s reputation.

The study, issued on May 15, said that state regulation in Pennsylvania had made drilling there far safer and that New York rules were even more likely to ensure safety once drilling gets under way in the state.

But a government watchdog group quickly raised questions about the study’s data and the authors’ ties to the oil and gas industry. And a newly formed group of professors and students is calling for a broader inquiry into the genesis of the institute, which issued the report only weeks after its creation was announced in April.

“This report reflects the interests of the gas companies, not scholarship,” said Jim Holstun, a professor of English and one of around 20 members of the newly formed University at Buffalo Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research, which met for the first time Wednesday night. “We look very bad.”

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/nyregion/university-at-buffalo-faces-scrutiny-over-gas-drilling-report.html



SUNY Buffalo? My parents went there for undergrad. What happened?

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Reply Institute’s Gas Drilling Report Leads to Claims of Bias and Concern for a University’s Image (Original post)
alp227 Jun 2012 OP
starroute Jun 2012 #1

Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue Jun 12, 2012, 11:22 AM

1. Here's part of what's been happening

This Washington Post story from last week is specifically about agricultural research at land-grant universities -- but the same principle applies to all the large state university systems.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/energy-environment/as-public-funding-lessens-corporate-support-of-university-agricultural-research-draws-worries/2012/06/07/gJQA27AQKV_story.html

The gap between federal support for agricultural research at large public universities and private investment continues to grow — and the divide comes with increased threats to academic freedom and more instances of meddling in the lab, a new research report suggests.

A recent study by Food and Water Watch, a Washington-based environmental group, shows that nearly one-quarter of the money spent on agricultural research at land-grant universities comes from corporations, trade associations and foundations, an all-time high. Financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture accounts for less than 15 percent, the lowest level in nearly two decades.

The consumer advocacy group’s report is rife with what it calls examples of how corporate money “corrupts” the public research mission at land-grant schools, which were created by the Morrill Act of 1862. The law provided federal land for states to establish agriculture and engineering colleges.

The examples range from a University of Georgia food safety program that allows industry groups to join an advisory board in exchange for annual $20,000 donations, to an Ohio State University professor whose research on genetically modified sunflowers was blocked by two seed companies after the initial results suggested the biotech sunflowers fostered the growth of weeds.

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