Sgr.org.uk6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 1 Science and the corporate agenda
The detrimental effects of commercial influence on science and technology Chris Langley and Stuart Parkinson Promoting ethical science, design and technology 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 2 Science and the corporate agenda Science and the corporate agenda:
The detrimental effects of commercial influence on science and technology
Research by Chris Langley
Written by Chris Langley and Stuart Parkinson
Funding provided by Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation and individual members of Scientists for Global Responsibility.
Design, typesetting and printing by Seacourt Ltd. and GreenCreative.
Published by Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) in September 2009 ISBN – 978-0-9549406-4-5
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Image credits: USAF; iStockphoto; GreenCreative. Microscope icon by Joanna Usherwood 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 3 About Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR).
About the authors.
Part I – Background. 11 References and further reading. 12 Science, engineering and technology – background on structures, policies and funding. 13 SET – some basics. 13 Pure and applied science. 14 Overview of funding of science, engineering and technology in the UK. 15 The universities and the knowledge economy. 17 References and further reading.
Part II – Case studies. 22 Introduction to the case studies. 22 References and further reading. 22 The pharmaceuticals sector. 23 Background on the pharmaceutical industry. 23 The drug development process. 23 The growing economic agenda within medical R&D. 24 Problems related to commercial involvement. 25 References and further reading. 30 The tobacco products sector. 33 The tobacco industry: some basics. 33 Tobacco industry smokescreen: a brief history. 34 Recent academic controversies. 36 References and further reading. 38 The military/defence sector. 40 Background on the military/defence sector. 40 Military involvement in UK universities. 41 Problems related to military corporate involvement. 44 References and further reading. 47 The oil and gas sector. 48 Background to the oil and gas industry. 48
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 4 Science and the corporate agenda Climate change: the accumulation of evidence. 49 The fossil fuel industry: promoting ‘climate scepticism'. 50 Energy R&D, the oil and gas industry and UK universities. 52 References and further reading. 55 The biotechnology sector. 57 Biotechnology and gene patenting. 57 Major ethical controversies in biotechnology. 58 Growing corporate influence on biotechnology. 59 Problems related to commercial involvement in biotechnology. 60 Seed research, development and supply. 61 Biotechnology research and conflicts of interest. 62 8.4.3. Synthetic Biosecurity and biotechnology. 65 References and further reading. 67 Part III – Conclusions and recommendations. 70 References and further reading. 73 Recommendations. 74 References and further reading. 78 Abbreviations and acronyms. 79
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 5 About Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR)
SGR promotes ethical science, design and technology, based on the principles of openness, accountability, peace, social justice, andenvironmental sustainability. Our work involves research, education, advocacy and providing a support network for ethically concernedscience, design and technology professionals. Founded in 1992, we are an independent UK-based non-profit organisation with over1,000 members. SGR is affiliated to the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES).
SGR works with a range of individuals and organisations to pursue our goals, including academics, civil society organisations andethically concerned businesses. We are funded through subscriptions and donations from our members, together with grants from trustsand other organisations that share our ethical concerns. Full details of SGR's ethical principles and funding policy, together with a currentlist of funders, can be found on our website at: About the authors
Chris Langley has degrees from University College London and the University of Cambridge. Following post-doctoral research in
neurobiology at Cambridge, he has worked for more than 25 years in science policy and the communication of science, technology and
medicine. At present he runs ScienceSources, an independent consultancy, which facilitates and widens access to science, technology and
medicine, fostering a more publicly accountable, independent and open science. He has produced critiques of science, engineering and
technology for a wide range of audiences, both lay and professional, and has given presentations and invited lectures on science
communication, ethical science and the military influence on science, engineering and technology. He has authored or co-authored, for SGR,
the publications: Soldiers in the laboratory; Scientists or soldiers?; More soldiers in the laboratory; and most recently Behind closed doors.
Stuart Parkinson has been Executive Director of SGR since 2003. He has a bachelor's degree in physics and electronic engineering,
and a doctorate in climate science. Since gaining his doctorate, he has carried out scientific research, education and advocacy work
across a range of areas including climate change policy, science and the military, energy and the environment, and science policy andethics. Dr Parkinson has authored and/or edited numerous reports, academic papers, briefings and articles across these fields. Mostnotably, he was lead editor of acclaimed SGR report, Soldiers in the laboratory, co-editor of the book, Flexibility in climate policy, andeditor of SGR's popular series of ethical careers publications. He has also been an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change. He has worked in academia, industry and the not-for-profit sector.
We should like to thank the following warmly for their generous time and encouragement in the compilation of this report: James Collins, Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, USA; David Cromwell, National Oceanography Centre, SouthamptonUniversity; Jon Goulding, School of Biology, Nottingham University; John Hacking, Manchester Joint Health Unit; Paul Marchant, Centrefor Pain Research, Leeds Metropolitan University; Phil Moriarty, School of Physics and Astronomy, Nottingham University; Eva Novotny,Cambridge; Julie Owens, Office of National Statistics; Jerome Ravetz, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford;Jerome Satterthwaite, Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth; Vanessa Spedding, Mortimer Press; Anna Stavianakis,International Relations, Sussex University; Helen Wallace, GeneWatch UK; and David Webb, Praxis Centre, Leeds Metropolitan University.
Special thanks to Philip Webber, Chair of SGR, for valuable input to the report. Special thanks to Gill Langley who provided ideas and comments throughout the course of the project and lent a critical eye at thewriting stage too.
We should also like to thank the staff and the National Co-ordinating Committee of SGR – especially Kate Maloney – for their assistanceand support. Thanks also to Green Creative and Seacourt for design and printing.
We are very grateful to those who provided funding for this project: Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation; and individual members ofSGR. We are also grateful to the Martin Ryle Trust and Medact for assistance with raising funds.
Any errors that may be found in this report are of course our own responsibility.
Chris Langley and Stuart Parkinson
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 6 Science and the corporate agenda Executive summary
Links between science, technology and business are numerous.
It is no secret that these links are increasing in number and The five industrial sectors covered in this report are large-scale extent, a reflection of the growing role of science and technology users of science and technology in the UK and internationally.
in the drive for competitiveness between the leading economies.
Many of the leading companies in these sectors have strong links Both governments and business assert that this close to universities. All five of the sectors have been the subject of at relationship is generally positive for science and technology on least some in-depth independent research of the effects of their the one hand and society on the other. However, there is growing evidence that this relationship brings with it a range of The pharmaceutical industry is the largest private funder of R&D detrimental effects. This study examines how significant such both in the UK and globally. Two of the world's top five companies effects are, how they manifest themselves and where their in this sector are based in the UK. There are extensive links impact is felt.
between the industry and academia. While the sector contributesimportant health benefits, there have been numerous criticisms We investigate these effects in five industrial sectors: about the problems associated with their involvement in the pharmaceuticals; tobacco; military/defence; oil and gas; and research process. These criticisms come from a range of sources, including peer-reviewed academic studies, medical This study approaches the issue primarily from a UK perspective, practitioners, researchers and policy-makers. while drawing on a wide range of sources. In particular, we Despite its apparently narrow product base, the tobacco industry critically examine the extensive range of government policy is very large, not least because of the recent expansion of its initiatives over the last 20 years that have driven much closer markets in poorer countries. The leading companies in this sector links between business and the universities in the UK. Given the include two based in the UK, British American Tobacco and transboundary nature of science and technology, we cast a wider Imperial Tobacco. The industry has a long and controversial net when examining the five industrial sectors, taking account of association with health research. Documentary evidence experiences in the USA – where commercial involvement in spanning many decades – including company files recently made academia is more extensive – as well as in some other European public – reveal that there have been some very serious countries. We make recommendations for tackling the problems detrimental effects due to commercial involvement. that we identify.
The military/defence industry is a powerful player in science andtechnology. The UK is home to the world's second largest armscompany, BAE Systems. The industry receives high levels of The march of commercialisation
government funding to carry out R&D often in-house, but also Over the past 20 years, in the UK (and other leading industrialised within universities. UK government and commercial initiatives in nations), there has been a concerted effort by policy-makers and recent years have led to an increase in military involvement in UK commerce to increase the links between business and academic universities. The effects of this industry on the research processhave only received limited attention from academics. However, science. There have been numerous reviews, white papers and studies by Scientists for Global Responsibility and others have other policy documents arguing that these closer links will revealed a range of problems related to the industry's improve economic competitiveness and have broader benefits for involvement in science and technology.
society. This has led to a swathe of new initiatives, funding programmes and other measures to stimulate these links – from The oil and gas sector is the world's largest industrial sector, with the 1993 White Paper, Realising our potential, to the ten-year the top five companies earning revenues of nearly £1 trillion in science and innovation strategy launched in 2004, and most 2008. The UK is home to two of the top five companies in thissector. There are strong links between oil companies and recently the creation of the Department for Business, Innovation numerous universities in the UK, especially in disciplines relevant and Skills whose responsibilities include science and universities.
to fossil fuel extraction such as geology and chemical One recurring theme in these initiatives is the concerted attempt engineering. There has been limited academic research on to encourage universities to behave like businesses themselves, problems related to the influence of the oil companies on R&D.
and institute a ‘corporate' mindset, undermining the traditional Nevertheless, there is some strong evidence of detrimental ethos of openness, objectivity and pursuit of knowledge.
effects, especially concerning ExxonMobil's promotion of ‘climate
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 7 Executive summary scepticism' – the view that scientific research on the threat of pharmaceutical and biotechnology areas, but such climate change is flawed. problems may well be evident at the individual levelacross other areas in science and technology, which Biotechnology is a complex area which raises numerous ethical have not been scrutinised as yet.
issues. The biotechnology industry has expanded rapidly inrecent years, with the support of major pharmaceutical, chemical (c) Conflicts of interest of scientific researchers (for and agricultural companies. This has led to a strong focus within example, financial interests) have the potential to agricultural and health R&D on gene-based technologies, compromise the research process. There is limited including most controversially genetically modified (GM) crops. A monitoring or policing of the problem, so its true extent is close relationship has developed between the industry and unknown. We found evidence of this problem in the academics in the sector, leading to much criticism. Although pharmaceutical, tobacco and biotechnology sectors.
there is dispute over the scale of the problems in this sector 3) At the level of setting the priorities and direction of R&D, we related to commercial involvement, there remains significant found the following problems: evidence of detrimental effects.
(a) Economic criteria are increasingly used by government to decide the overarching priorities for public funding of The detrimental effects of the commercial
science and technology, in close consultation with business.
influence on science and technology
(b) Universities are being internally reorganised so that they The main concerns about commercial influence on science and behave more like businesses, while key attributes of the technology uncovered by this study and presented in detail in this academic ethos such as openness, objectivity and independence are being seriously eroded. 1) There is clear evidence that large-scale, commercial (c) Companies have expanded the number and range of involvement in university-based science, engineering and partnerships with universities, focusing on business technology has impacts that can be very detrimental, such as research priorities and goals. The power and influence of the introduction of significant bias and the marginalisation of some corporations, and the increased pressure on work with clear social and environmental benefits. These researchers to bring in funding from business, means impacts occur at different levels, including during individual that academic departments are increasingly orientating research studies, the agenda-setting process for R&D, and themselves to commercial needs rather than to broader communication of findings to fellow professionals, policy- public interest or curiosity-driven goals. This is a trend makers and the public. While academic examination of these especially evident in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, oil impacts has so far been limited, there is nevertheless and gas, and military partnerships. credible evidence of serious problems across all the fivesectors examined in this study.
(d) The growing business influence on universities is resulting in a greater focus on intellectual property rights 2) At the level of the individual research study, we found the (including patents) in academic work. Hence knowledge following problems: is increasingly being ‘commodified' for short-term (a) Direct commercial funding of a research study increases economic benefit. This can undermine its application for the likelihood that the results will be favourable to the wider public benefit, and produces a narrow approach to funders. Evidence of this mainly came from academic research in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology (e) A high degree of business interest in emerging sectors. One way in which this bias – known as technologies, such as synthetic biology and sponsorship bias – happened in the cases under nanotechnology, leads to decisions about these powerful examination was that funders tended to choose technologies being taken with little public consultation.
scientists who were already sympathetic to their This is of particular concern because of the major viewpoint. Intentional distortion or suppression of data uncertainties regarding these technologies, including the was much less common, although it did occur, especially possibility of detrimental health and environmental in pharmaceutical and the tobacco funded areas, and it impacts which they may produce.
may well be more prevalent.
(f) There are particular problems within the five sectors (b) Openness in research can be compromised through the examined in this report: use of commercial confidentiality agreements (includingpatents) and other intellectual property rights (i) In terms of the scientific response to ill-health, the considerations. We found evidence for this in the influence of the pharmaceutical industry can, for
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 8 Science and the corporate agenda example, marginalise investigation of lifestyle interest groups, which help to increase the market for changes as a method of disease prevention, or lead their products. This can compromise both patient care to a focus on disease treatments for wealthier and the underlying scientific basis of medicine.
communities able to pay for them rather than themore common global diseases.
(ii) In terms of the scientific response to food security, Our recommendations specifically focus on reforms that are the influence of the biotechnology industry can lead relevant across the science and technology sector in the UK. They to unjustified focus on high technology approaches to increasing crop yields rather than investigatinglower-cost agricultural options or addressing wider 1. Universities should adopt minimum ethical standards for the problems of food distribution or poverty. companies with which they have partnerships. These (iii) In terms of the scientific response to climate change, standards should include social and environmental criteria, the influence of the oil and gas industry can lead to as well as academic criteria and should be overseen by a a focus on fossil fuel-based technologies or special committee. controversial biofuels rather than controlling energy 2. Universities should openly publish comprehensive data on demand, increasing efficiency, or a more rapid the nature of their business partnerships. expansion of widely accepted renewable energytechnologies.
3. A new independent organisation should be set up to disburse a significant fraction of business funding for scientific (iv) In terms of the scientific response to security threats, research. The aim would be to fund research which has the influence of the military/defence sector in particular public interest (and includes those areas being science and engineering can drive an undue neglected by mainstream funding sources). The steering emphasis on weapons and other high technology committee of the organisation would include representatives approaches, rather than one that prioritises from a range of stakeholders.
negotiation, arms control treaties, and other conflictresolution or prevention activities.
4. Business and civil society organisations should undertake more joint work on public interest scientific projects. This 4) At the level of communication with policy-makers and the could be facilitated by the Research Councils. public, we found the following problems: 5. All academic journals should develop and implement (a) If threatened by emerging scientific evidence about the rigorous processes for dealing with potential conflicts of health or environmental problems related to their interest, including suitable sanctions for non-compliance.
industry, some of the larger companies are willing to fundmajor public relations campaigns aimed at strongly 6. An open register of interests should be set up for academics, encouraging policy-makers and the public to support particularly those working in controversial areas of science their interpretation of the scientific evidence (even if it is far from that endorsed by most scientists). Tactics 7. Advocacy groups on all sides of debates in science and uncovered here include funding lobby groups technology (including professional institutions) should (sometimes covertly) to act on their behalf and publicly disclose funding sources, to allow the public to presenting industry as being for ‘sound science' and decide potential sources of bias. opponents as ‘anti-science'. Evidence of these practicesis especially strong in the tobacco and oil and gas 8. University ethical policies on partnerships with business sectors, with some evidence from the biotechnology should cover openness and accuracy related to any sector too. Companies more willing/able to diversify from involvement in science communication activities. problematic product lines were found to be less likely to 9. More academic research needs to be conducted into the take this course of action. potentially detrimental effects of the commercialisation of (b) Some companies can be selective in their reporting of science and technology, especially within universities.
academic findings of efficacy or safety of a newly 10. The newly formed Department of Business, Innovation and launched product. This ‘marketing bias' was found Skills – which has responsibility for both universities and especially in data from the pharmaceutical and science – should be broken up. Public interest science and the universities should be given greater prominence in the (c) Some sections of the pharmaceutical industry ‘expand' the definition of human disorders and fund patient-
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 9 Executive summary 11. The House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology should investigate the current emphasis oncommercialisation within science policy, and whether abalance is being achieved between business and the widerpublic interest. 12. Public involvement in the governance of science and technology should be expanded in a number of ways,drawing on recent experience of policies and activities in thisarea. 13. Research Councils and other major public funders of scientific research and teaching should have more balancedrepresentations on their boards and committees betweenbusiness on the one hand and civil society on the other. 14. Steps should be taken to ensure that a balance is struck between the commercialisation of emerging technologiesand wider social and environmental impacts. This couldinclude: the setting up of a Commission on EmergingTechnologies and Society; the allocation of adequate levels offunding to examine the broad impact of such emergingtechnologies and make recommendations on theirmanagement; and the wider implementation of ethical codesof conduct for researchers.
15. The Sustainable Development Commission should have its remit broadened specifically to cover the role of science andtechnology in contributing to sustainable development. 16. There needs to be a thorough review of the role of the university in society and the economy – perhaps in the formof a Royal Commission. This needs to include issues rangingfrom the degree of involvement of business and civil societyto patenting policy.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 10 Science and the corporate agenda
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 11 Part I – Background Science, engineering and technology (SET), especially in the uncertainty, and the political and economic power of different wealthier nations, play a key role in shaping society, markedly interest groups, as well as their social values and ethics. As such, influencing everything from the food we eat to how we are new technologies have the potential to demonstrate both positive educated. At the same time, business is an integral part of the and negative effects (Crespi & Geuna 2006; Chapman 2007). economic system that supports our industrialised world. SET and Increasingly, in the UK and other industrialised countries, SET business are linked in numerous ways, not least their mutual takes place within a political setting which places high value on reliance on people with high levels of expertise and skills. It is no economic objectives, which include new patterns of global secret that these links are increasing in number and extent, a investment with the growth of multinational companies. As a reflection of the growing role of SET in the drive for result of these trends, business has gained a greater role in competitiveness between the leading economies. society and its links with SET have been strengthened. Many Both governments and business assert that this close within the UK government, the business community and the relationship is generally positive for both SET and society.
science governance sector (including funding bodies and However, there is growing evidence that this relationship brings professional institutions) assert that the value and reliability of with it a variety of detrimental effects. This report sets out the science are not influenced by this closeness to business. A results of investigations into how significant such effects are, recent government policy document stated, "There is no reason how they manifest themselves and where their impact is felt.
why the way science is conducted, governed or communicatedby the private sector should be or be perceived to be any different Specifically, the report: from the public sector" (DIUS 2008). This view is also held by Presents historical evidence of how commercial influence on some SET researchers. However, a growing number of studies the SET community has evolved, especially over the past 20 challenge this view. We review the evidence these studies present for the negative effects of commercial involvement in Examines the commercial influence on science and academic research, effects that favour the outcome for industry technology, in particular outlining and analysing the evidence and adversely influence the objectivity, trustworthiness and of detrimental effects including: openness of science.
• narrowing the scope of the research agenda; Not only does this report throw into question the claims thatcommercial interests do not affect the integrity of SET, it also • influencing the direction of, and introducing bias into the queries the fundamental assertion that marrying science and results of, specific research studies; business brings clear economic and social benefits in the first • compromising the openness and transparency of research In general, governments in many countries, especially the UK and • misrepresenting the results of research to the scientific USA, view technological development, innovation and the science community and the public.
underpinning these as central to economic prosperity and social Provides case studies of commercial influence, specifically in wellbeing – a view supported by corporate interests and lobby five sectors: pharmaceuticals; tobacco; military/defence; oil groups (see Langley et al 2008). But in fact the evidence for the and gas; and biotechnology; positive economic effects of such investment in SET (especiallywhen it takes the form of commercial research and development Recommends reforms to reduce the detrimental effects: to supporting narrowly-defined business objectives) is limited (see improve the quality of SET; to build public confidence in SET; references in Crespi & Geuna 2006). Furthermore, the argument and to increase its wider benefits to society and the that this pattern of support for SET helps create a more socially just and environmentally sustainable society is even more There is a broad context to this study. Science has for centuries questionable (see, for example, Levett 2003). This begs the been inextricably linked to engineering and technology, which, question: to what extent does the emphasis on short-term profits with the active involvement of science, has created the tools, within business actually undermine the application of science methods and practical understanding with which we modify the and technology to the wider public interest? These issues are world and create new products. The creation of new technologies also considered in this report (although, due to space constraints, is critically affected by a range of factors, including scientific we do not examine wider criticisms of the economic system).
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 12 Science and the corporate agenda Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) has long been References and further reading
concerned about the influence of powerful interests on SET. In (Web links accessed June 2009, except where indicated) recent years our focus has been on investigating the influence ofthe military sector – both business and government – on science Chapman A (2007). Democratizing technology: Risk, and technology in the UK. This work has shown the power of the responsibility and the regulation of chemicals. London: military voice, not only in terms of its role in framing the security agenda, but also in terms of the strong influence it exerts on Crespi G & Geuna A (2006). The productivity of UK universities.
training, teaching and research within UK universities (Langley SEWPS Paper No: 147. Sussex: SPRU.
2005; Langley et al 2007; Langley et al 2008). DIUS (2008). A vision for science & society: A consultation on This experience has proven invaluable to our investigations of the developing a new strategy for the UK. Department of Innovation, influence of the wider commercial sector on the SET Universities and Skills, London.
environment, as examined in this report. The report has been written in three parts. Part I includes this chapter and chapter 2, the latter outlining key background Langley C (2005). Soldiers in the laboratory: military information on SET and documenting the expansion of the involvement in science & technology – and some alternatives.
commercial influence within SET in the UK over the past 15-20 Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility.
years. Part II (chapters 3 to 8) provides the bulk of the evidence and analysis of the report. After a brief introduction (chapter 3),chapters 4 to 8 each examine a major industrial sector and Langley C, Parkinson S & Webber P (2007). More soldiers in discuss the evidence for detrimental effects on the culture and the laboratory: the militarisation of science & technology – an practice of SET related to commercial involvement. Part III update. Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility.
contains the conclusions (chapter 9) and recommendations (chapter 10).
Langley C, Parkinson S & Webber P (2008). Behind closed It should be emphasised that we approach the issue from a UK doors: Military influence, commercial pressures & the perspective, while drawing upon material from a wide variety of compromised university. Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global sources. In particular, chapters 2, 9 and 10 are specifically focused on the UK policy situation. However, given the transboundary nature of science and technology, we cast a wider Levett R (2003). A better choice of choice. Policy Report 58.
net when examining the evidence in part II of the report, taking London: Fabian Society.
account of experiences in the USA – where commercialinvolvement in academia has a longer history and is moresustained – as well as in some other European countries. 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:37 Page 13 Part I – Background 2. Science, engineering and technology –
background on structures, policies and
In the more industrialised countries, science, engineering and (Senker et al 1999). The Swedish approach, which is followed in technology (SET) is embedded within a complex social structure.
many European countries, creates strong disincentives toward SET is shaped by its practitioners (scientists, engineers etc), academics becoming entangled in partnerships with the together with government, business and citizens. Decisions are commercial sector and knowledge transfer activities. The key made regarding the priorities for research, the sources of sign of university success in Sweden is academic results and the funding, the technologies that are developed, how these quality of teaching and research (Huggins et al 2008).
technologies are regulated, and so on. The extent to which eachgroup in society can and does influence these decisions is hotlydebated. For example, many citizens feel that business funding Box 2.1 – Defining science,
of SET can lead to bias in the research and the undermining of engineering and technology (SET)
potential benefits to society (People Science and Policy Ltd/ TNS2008). However, in the UK and elsewhere, governments and Science, engineering and technology (SET) permeates some people within the science and engineering community itself society in industrialised nations. In this report, SET is assert that commercial involvement in SET does not compromise considered to include a complex range of activities, namely: its reliability (for example, DIUS 2008). academic research (both ‘pure' and ‘applied' – see In order to examine issues such as these, we first need to describe the landscape in which SET takes place – including the commercially-oriented research and development; organisations that fund SET and the government policies thatguide it. We start with some basic definitions and broad policy the practical activities stemming from research and background, before outlining the current situation in the UK regarding the funding and practice of SET. We then examine the testing of materials and products; and more closely business research and development, followed by UKgovernment policies which have driven the commercialisation of teaching, mentoring, and training. SET over the past 15 to 20 years.
Research and development (R&D) is also defined as includingtechnology transfer – the dissemination and application ofscientific and technical knowledge. 2.1 SET – some basics
Modified from Stoneman (1999) A broad definition of SET is given in box 2.1. It includes both workthat is publicly-funded work and also that which privately-funded.
SET undertaken in universities in the UK is funded from a mix ofpredominantly public (national and international) sources, In a sharp contrast, in the past 20 years the UK has put a together with some commercial and charitable sources (Martin & significant premium on SET as a driver of economic competitiveness (see later sections). This follows the modelpursued by the USA (Washburn 2005). Here the voice of the While European governments have traditionally funded SET for a business community is often heard by government above those number of reasons including the support of economic of other interested parties.
development, they have also recognised the advancement ofknowledge (‘pure' research) as being of considerable intrinsic Business involvement with SET has a complex history. For importance to their societies (Smelser & Baltes 2001). Some instance, many large businesses have played a major part in the countries like Sweden and Germany have emphasised the politics of funding for research – especially in the USA – and, by advancement of knowledge as a primary goal of SET, and this has the 1980s, industry was taking a very active role in funding and influenced their research and funding structures accordingly privatising scientific knowledge (Jasanoff et al 1995). But in the 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 14 Science and the corporate agenda post-World War Two era, business philanthropy was an important commercial interests wedded to short-term economic return element in supporting not only research but also the (Ravetz 1996; Washburn 2005). A series of profound changes in infrastructure of SET. An example is the Novartis Foundation, set the UK have altered how people perceive the role and activities up as an ‘operationally independent' entity by the then Ciba of universities in society. These changes have affected what Company of Switzerland in the 1940s. The Foundation not only research is undertaken; for whom and why; and the proportion of provided accommodation in London for visiting scientists and research that can be described as ‘pure'. In this climate many, medical researchers in its own premises but provided the venue especially in government, have begun to regard ‘pure' research for its own meetings on a range of topics in SET and medicine.
as a luxury.
Organisations from across the SET community also met to ‘Applied' research is usually defined as research that has a clear discuss issues of import to their discipline at the Foundation's set of narrowly-defined objectives, which guide its programme of premises. The resultant symposia and similar publications, activities. There is generally little opportunity to seek data featuring leading researchers' discussions and their research outside this defined set of end-points. ‘Applied' research papers were edited by Foundation staff without company input.
frequently has economic gain and profit as its predominant focus This was an important independent resource for the SET – but can also be related to a specific social or environmental community. Such philanthropy still exists. The Wellcome Trust goal such as curing a disease, reducing greenhouse gas and the Leverhulme Trust both play key roles in SET today, even emissions or increasing crop yields. Superficially then one of the though this role is now played out within a highly commercialised key differences between ‘pure' and ‘applied' research is how the goals of the research are defined and who is likely to benefit fromthe products of that research. The methods and scientificactivities in ‘pure' and ‘applied' research are essentially the 2.2 Pure and applied science
SET research (see Box 2.1) can be understood as either ‘pure' or The research activity tabled below comprises both ‘applied' and ‘applied'. For the purposes of understanding the role andinfluence of commercial interests on the research agenda a brief ‘basic' SET activities undertaken by the main sectors in the UK.
discussion of the differences is useful. Space does not permit a Traditionally the Research Councils predominantly supported the detailed discussion, but there are good accounts of how they more ‘pure' form of research – much of which had a broadly differ in a number of texts (Sarewitz 1996; Ziman 2002; Calvert defined set of end-points. In addition the Research Councils were expected to provide funding not coloured by the politicalperspectives of the government of the day – the Haldane ‘Pure' science (there is not strictly speaking ‘pure' technology or principle1. While in the early days of the Research Councils some engineering) usually appears in the R&D statistics of government of the funding they distributed was for technological innovation (or other funders of research) as a category which reflects the and hence definable as ‘applied', the proportion of their funding open-ended pursuit of knowledge. Pure research tends to be activities that is directed at economically defined objectives has considered as part of curiosity-driven work which is undertaken increased in the last 20 years (see Moriarty 2008). by scientists in both public and private laboratories – its aimbeing to provide an ‘understanding' of a phenomenon. In SET has significant potential to provide tools that can be used, contrast, ‘applied' research aims at producing an intervention – through technological development for instance, to contribute to such as a drug or new material – to address problems or develop social justice or to help to address issues such as resource a new approach. ‘Pure', ‘fundamental' or ‘basic' research is depletion, cleaner energy, pollution and environmental defined officially as: degradation (Ravetz 1996). However, there is a large body ofresearch literature which shows that the ability of SET to fulfil that "….experimental or theoretical work undertaken primarily to potential – its ultimate role in society – depends upon the social acquire new knowledge of the underlying foundation of structure and power relationships existing within that society.
phenomena and observable facts, without any particular Profit-driven activities and mechanisms such as intellectual application or use in view" (OECD 2002). property rights2, patents and funding can often act against the Universities have been seen historically as institutions in which public interest and bring benefit to a very few without increasing such predominantly ‘pure' research was undertaken to discover the public benefit. knowledge for a broadly defined ‘public good'. Such knowledge SET has a number of mechanisms in place – with associated would be a source of objective information for the public, and reliable methods and data – designed to help reduce the could inform policy-makers in areas such as public health or influence of special interests with the potential to introduce bias, environmental protection. for example those of the funder. Strict adherence to these However these goals can be marginalised by the involvement of mechanisms – which include peer review, free exchange of data 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 15 Science, engineering and technology – background on structures, policies and funding and transparency – has traditionally been a prerequisite for Table 2.1 - Sectors in the UK economy undertaking
practising SET. However, such processes must be observed by all R&D in 2007 (excluding overseas sources)
involved in publishing and experimental protocols, for example,so as to permit data to be assessed for its reliability.
Sector undertaking R&D
Budget (£ billion)
Business enterprise 2.3 Overview of funding of science,
engineering and technology in the UK
In 2007 the UK's gross domestic expenditure on R&D was £25.4 (direct spending, including within billion (Office of National Statistics 2009) – with the breakdown by each sector undertaking the R&D given in Table 2.1. Thisrepresented an increase, in cash terms, of around 9 per cent Research Councils from the 2006 level. In real terms the 2006 expenditure on R&D Private non-profit in the UK was 1.79 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), anincrease over the previous year (Office of National Statistics Notes: The figures in this table reflect the R&D which is undertaken 2009). In 2007 (the latest period for which we have data), solely within the UK. The R&D which is undertaken in other countries, but government (including the Higher Education Funding Councils funded by UK sources, is not shown in this table. The figures reflect and the Research Councils) funded 30 per cent of all R&D various activities, many of which use SET expertise.
performed in the UK. Business undertook around 47 per cent of Source: Office of National Statistics (2009) all UK–based R&D.
The UK government, in common with those of other industrialised In the decade since 1998 government funding for the UK's seven economies, spends significant sums each year either directly or Research Councils has almost doubled in real terms (Brumfiel indirectly upon, or in support of, a range of SET activities 2008). Table 2.2 shows the 2007-08 budgets. Research Council including R&D. Similarly, science-based business also funding is predominantly directed at research (and training) undertakes R&D in order to expand its range of products, undertaken within universities and research council institutions, improve those it already manufactures, and also to reduce waste and has historically been a mix of mainly ‘pure' but also some and pollution of the manufacturing process. A marked trend over ‘applied'. However, Research Councils are now expected to have the past five years is the increasing level of investment made by a marked business focus, requiring their funding to address business in R&D. In 2006 the 850 most R&D-intensive UK economic goals or to contribute to economic prosperity.
companies increased their funding of R&D by 9 per cent on the Therefore they now often co-fund research with commercial previous year to £20.9 billion (BERR 2008). The pharmaceutical partners (we discuss this further below). sector remained the largest and contributed most to total UK R&Dgrowth in 2006. (These figures are those reported by the Government in the UK also funds research within its own ‘public businesses themselves.) sector research establishments' (PSREs), in some cases throughone or more of the Research Councils. Such PSREs include In the UK, university SET research departments have five main museums and galleries, and departmental research entities like sources of funding: the Central Science Laboratory, the National Physical Laboratory the Research Councils; and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory – thefunding being in the main for ‘applied' research. Such PSREs higher education funding councils; employ many people with SET experience, often specialised and UK-based charities; government departments; and Despite the growth in funds provided by government for SET, UK industry.
many within the academic research community feel that theincreased funding comes with a considerable number of strings, All have increased their funding of research in real terms in the not least of which is a heavy focus on conducting research for economic benefit as part of an ongoing shift away from ‘pure' Academic research is also funded by EU bodies, other sources research for the broader public good. While some of the strings from outside the UK (government and commercial) and a tie specific research to narrow commercial end-points, there is a miscellaneous collection of sources, including funding derived broader and perhaps more important trend, which is that the from university investments of various kinds and from non-UK research community is being increasingly anchored within a business. Academic R&D is also undertaken in locations other business setting. Such a positioning involves the than the universities – these are included in Table 2.1.
commodification of knowledge and information, a culture of 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 16 Science and the corporate agenda managerialism and secrecy, and short-term goals. This focus The SGR report Behind Closed Doors (Langley et al 2008) compromises the long-standing convivial and open environment described the swathe of business and government of academics, in which the pursuit of open-ended questions is pronouncements and reports that have underscored the notion normal as is the sharing of ideas with colleagues and the public that universities should be far more ‘business-facing' and (Jacob 2003; Moriarty 2008; Brumfiel 2008). Such a situation consider the economic endpoints of research programmes. Many also impacts upon the free movement of staff, especially where of these documents, often penned by those in the business activities become subject to ‘commercial sensitivities'.
community for government departments, seem to overlook the significant and valuable differences between universities and Table 2.2 - Research Councils annual funding
companies. At the same time there has been sweeping allocation for 2007-08
privatisation of the former government research laboratories, especially in the ‘defence' area. A number of commentators have Budget (£ millions)
pointed to Treasury catchphrases, including ‘economic competitiveness', which are to be found in research council Arts & Humanities Research Council documents and appear to erode the independence of the councils and at the same time severely curtail the amount of Biotechnology & Biological Sciences ‘pure' research undertaken (Brumfiel 2008). Other public interest Research Council (BBSRC) research and investment tends to become sidelined in this Economic & Social Research environment. Interestingly, this can be negative from an economic perspective as well as a social one, as public interest research can generate more economic value (Fearn 2008). Our Engineering & Physical Sciences own experience indicates that there are many within the UK Research Council (EPSRC) research community that feel that universities have lost more Medical Research Council (MRC) than they have gained in becoming commercialised entities (Langley et al 2008).
Natural Environment Research Science & Technology Facilities 2.4 Business R&D
In the 1990s, most major industrialised countries (especially those in the OECD) saw the opportunities arising from the commercial exploitation of knowledge residing in the universities.
Less depreciation & impairments The UK government was among those keen to increase the utility Research Council funding total
of research undertaken within its academic research community (Calvert & Patel 2002). In 1993 the UK government published Figures are for 2006/07 Realising our potential, which set out a strategy to enhance * The STFC was formed in 2007 by the merger of the Particle Physics economic and social wellbeing by tapping into the strengths of and Astronomy Research Council and the Council for the Central UK SET. This White Paper and the plethora of similar exhortations Laboratory of the Research Councils. It has, as a major goal: "increasing for universities to become business-facing and to actively seek the UK technology capability and engagement with industry andknowledge transfer".
partnerships with business are discussed throughout this report (Calvert & Patel 2002).
Funds provided to the seven research councils from the public purse arepart of the Science Budget – other recipients include the UK National In the last 20 years, science-based business in OECD countries Academies. There are also sums for technology transfer, Science in has moved away from the tendency to support large laboratories, Society projects and capital funding.
in which a company would undertake its entire technological The Research Councils not only fund research through project and agenda, and towards a more decentralised model. In this programme grants and in their own institutes, but also provide support approach, corporate in-house R&D capability is supplemented by for training awards in university departments and other organisations.
a range of specialist small companies (some of which are spun The Royal Society (one of the UK National Academies) also disburses out from research groups in the research-intensive universities) government funds through its Parliamentary Grant-in-Aid. In the year up and by research groups within the university sector supported on to March 2007 this funding was £407 million and was used for project or programme research council funding (or through research, education and training. In that period 167 project grants weresupported by the Society.
commercial funds) (Coombs & Georghiou 2002; Wright et al2007).
Source: DIUS (2007).
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 17 Science, engineering and technology – background on structures, policies and funding The share of business-sector R&D funding spent in universities In the UK Rolls Royce has around 20 University Technology increased across the OECD during the 1990s (Sheehan 2001).
Centres (UTCs), which undertake a variety of research for Rolls Business spending on in-company R&D grew one-third faster Royce and about which we have only scant information (see than combined public and business funding for university chapter 6). Many have criticised such ‘embedded laboratories' research in the period 1993 to 1998 (see section 2.3 for the arrangements because of a variety of conflicts of interest and the current in-company R&D spending). In 2006 UK business monopolisation of expertise for the profit-directed objectives of enterprise spent about £290 million on R&D undertaken within the companies involved (see Langley 2005 for references).
the higher education sector (Office of National Statistics 2008).
However, this kind of arrangement is looked upon favourably by Those with SET expertise play a major role in undertaking R&D university managers and those researchers who receive a fairly within the OECD business community. In the UK, R&D spending stable source of income from such relationships. Even where in the 850 most R&D intensive companies (UK850) was £20.9 these collaborations have sufficient intellectual property rights billion in 2006, an increase of 9 per cent over 2005 3. The (IPR) safeguards and are transparent and accountable they spending was concentrated in five sectors: should not be seen as a replacement for public funding of SET pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; (Martin & Tang 2007). software and computer services; aerospace and ‘defence'; 2.5 The universities and the knowledge
fixed-line telecommunications; and We live in a global, information-driven world. Economic success automotives and parts. is increasingly based upon the effective and widespread These five sectors accounted for almost two-thirds of all UK utilisation of assets such as knowledge, skills and innovative business R&D in 2006. The biopharmaceutical and biotechnology potential to provide competitive advantage. This emerging sector was by far the largest investor (35.5 per cent of the UK850 economic process has been called the ‘knowledge economy'.
total), the aerospace and ‘defence' sector's share being 11.4 per The universities will inevitably occupy a central role in such an cent (making it the second most intensive investor in R&D in the economy given their expertise and skills base; these are now UK). Both these sectors have a very large number and variety of increasingly perceived as commodities, offering economic value.
‘partnerships' with universities in the UK as well as in other The ‘knowledge economy' and the place of universities within it European countries. Many of these UK partnerships are also depend upon the globalisation of markets, as effected by national supported by government, charity and other non-governmental and international de-regulation together with the growth of monies in addition to funds from the corporate sector. As wehave already pointed out, government expects universities to information and communication technologies, including the forge such ‘partnerships' with the business community to further internet (Houghton & Sheehan 2000).
economic growth (see Langley 2005; Langley et al 2007).
Both government and business have increasingly looked to the Corporate interest in developing partnerships with universities university sector to augment in-house R&D effort. This is in has moved from a broad range of portfolios with individual addition to government pressure exerted over the past 15 years academics to long-term relationships with research-intensive to increase the economic utility of the publicly-funded research, departments and research groups. Many of these have been carried out within university departments.
discussed in previous SGR reports (see Langley 2005; Langley etal 2007; and also in Coombs & Georghiou 2002). The 1993 UK government White Paper Realising our potential sketched out a strategy to increase ‘wealth creation' and Furthermore, many companies such as QinetiQ, Novartis, collaboration between the universities and business by GlaxoSmithKline and Rolls Royce also develop their own ‘free- harnessing SET. One of its key aims was to forge closer links standing' partnerships with academia, involving a range of between the researchers in universities and business in order to research activities, in addition to reciprocal staff appointments, facilitate the transfer of technology (Calvert & Patel 2002). This research student recruitment and various kinds of contractresearch. We have been unable to obtain further detail on work White Paper has been followed by a swathe of other reviews, practices or staffing arrangements in the university-military strategies, white papers and policy initiatives – see Box 2.2 for a sector partnerships despite repeated attempts (Langley et al list of the main ones – demonstrating how the primary role of 2008). Many pharmaceutical companies also have arrangements universities has become one of active engagement with business with research groups who undertake research basic to the drug in a narrowly defined ‘knowledge economy'. Further detail and discovery process (at Manchester and Dundee, for example – discussion can be found in Langley et al (2008). see chapter 4).
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 18 Science and the corporate agenda Box 2.2 - Some major milestones in the commercialisation of UK universities
Faraday Partnerships set up by the then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to foster business–friendly partnerships withacademia.
Realising our potential White Paper published. This described a variety of ways of forging closer links between universities andbusiness. Foresight panels set up – involving both academics and industry - to advise the DTI on research priorities.
Office of Science and Technology moved from the Cabinet Office to the DTI.
Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, Higher education in the learning society, published.
The White Paper, Our competitive future: building the knowledge-based economy, published by the DTI. The University Challenge Fund launched, providing £50 million venture capital to universities.
Council for Science and Technology re-launched.
The first in a series of reports of the DTI ‘competitiveness indicators' – which discusses knowledge transfer and R&D activity –published. The first 12 Science Enterprise Centres set up with government funding of £28.9 million. Their aim is to foster entrepreneurshipin staff and students. The Baker report to the Treasury, Creating knowledge, creating wealth, published on the commercialisation of research in thegovernment's public sector research establishments.
The Cambridge University/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Initiative launched with business and governmentbacking.
DTI White Paper, Excellence and opportunity published, stressing the ‘knowledge economy'.
The Council for Science and Technology's Technology matters report published.
HM Treasury's Cross-cutting review of the knowledge economy published.
The government sets up the Higher Education Innovation Fund to support knowledge transfer. The DTI White Paper, Opportunity for all in a world of change, announces University Innovation Centres, new Technology Institutes, plus an additional £90 million to promote the commercial exploitation of research in genomics and e-science.
The National Audit Office publishes the report, Delivering the commercialisation of public sector science. Sainsbury's Cross-cutting review of science and research published.
The Roberts Review of science and engineering skills published.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 19 Science, engineering and technology – background on structures, policies and funding The Treasury publishes the Lambert Review of business-university collaboration. The DTI publishes its innovation report, Competing in the global economy. A new skills strategy launched.
The Science and innovation investment framework 2004 – 2014, which places science centre stage as a driver of economic prosperity, published as part of the Treasury's 2004 Spending Review. Launch of a business-led Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to identify and support new technologies. The launch of a new ‘Technology Strategy', inviting applications for Knowledge Transfer Networks and Collaborative R&D. Lambert Working Group on Intellectual Property set up. Knowledge Transfer Networks established by the TSB to enable business to make contact and establish links with the ‘knowledge economy', especially in universities.
Publication of the Warry Report to the DTI on ensuring that the ‘economic impact' of the Research Councils is increased. The final report of the Leitch Review of skills for HM Treasury, entitled Prosperity for all in the global economy is launched. The Office for Science and Technology becomes the Office for Science and Innovation. Sir David Cooksey reported to the Chancellor and the Secretaries of State for Health and Trade and Industry on his review ofhealth research and how to speed up the transition of research findings into ‘health and economic benefits'. The Cooksey Report also suggested an Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research and a joint MRC/NIHR Translational Medicine FundingBoard. The Global Science and Innovation Forum (GSIF) – "a vehicle for cross-government exchanges of information and ideas toimprove co-ordination of the UK effort in international science and innovation collaboration" - initiated by the newly-formedDepartment for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR). GSIF suggests that research and innovation should be usedfor both economic targets and development goals.
Creation of Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills (DIUS).
The Sainsbury Review of Science and Innovation produces further support for innovation. Research Councils are required to setspecific targets for the amount of R&D they conduct in partnership with the TSB. In September 2007 the TSB became a free-standing Board disconnected from the former DTI, its remit to stimulate knowledge transfer and to assist business in makingwise investments in technology.
The creation of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) from a merger of the former Council for the CentralLaboratory of the Research Councils and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council. The STFC saw its major role asthe facilitation of technology transfer – a new departure for a research council.
The White Paper Innovation nation published. It sets out the government's intention to provide the best environment to "run aninnovative business or public service".
Creation of a new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills under Peter Mandelson, which came about with the mergerof BERR with the DIUS. The remit of the new entity is to "build Britain's capabilities to compete in the global economy" – withoutmention of the many other roles of universities today. Gordon Brown's office said that there would be investment in the UK'sscience base and "shaping skills policy and innovation" (BBC News 2009). 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 20 Science and the corporate agenda Current government thinking can be summed up by the view of Calvert J & Patel P (2002). University-industry research Ruth Kelly, then Secretary of State for Education, who wrote in collaborations in the UK. Sussex: University of Sussex, SPRU.
January 2006 to David Young, Chairman of the Higher Education Coombs R & Georghiou L (2002). New "Industrial Ecology".
Funding Council for England (HEFCE) that the provision of higher Science 296: 471, 1095-9203.
education should be "partly or wholly designed, funded andprovided by employers" (HEFCE 2006). The emphasis on SET as DIUS (2007). The allocations of the science budget 2008/9 – 2010/11.
part of the business agenda has been reinforced by the creation in June 2009 of the Department for Business, Innovation and DIUS (2008). A vision for science & society: A consultation on Skills from a merger of BERR and DIUS (see Box 2.2). Both developing a new strategy for the UK. Department of Innovation, universities and science now come under the remit of this new Universities and Skills, London.
department. Clearly the view of both government and the business community is that the primary aims of publically–supported, university-based SET are business needsand economic end-points. The current ten-year Science and Fearn H (2008). Reach for the skies: applied research is half as Innovation Investment Framework, launched in 2004, also lucrative. Times Higher Education 13 November.
underscores the government view that universities as a whole HEFCE (2006).
should be business-facing, expertise within the universities should be commodified to drive economic growth, and education HM Treasury, Department for Trade & Industry, Department for and training provided by the universities should be of direct value Education & Skills (2004). Science & innovation investment to the business community (HM Treasury et al 2004). framework 2004-2014. London: The Stationery Office. Universities have thus entered the commercial sector in a significant way despite grave concerns on the part of many Houghton J & Sheehan P (2000). A primer on the knowledge academics (see references in Langley et al 2008). Similarly, the economy. Victoria: Centre for Strategic Economic Studies.
SET undertaken within UK universities is increasinglyindustrialised and corporate – of an ‘applied' nature – Huggins R, Johnston A & Stefferson R (2008). Universities, constrained by its economic costs (Ravetz 1996). University- knowledge networks and region policy. Cambridge Journal of industry partnerships have proliferated in the last 20 years and Regions, Economy & Society 1: 321-340.
have added to the concerns about conflicts of interest that can Jacob M (2003). Rethinking science & commodifying influence individuals, research establishments, the research knowledge. Policy Futures in Education 1: 125-142.
process and the wellbeing of the SET enterprise. Jasanoff S, Markle G E, Peterson J C & Pinch T (Eds) (1995).
Some see open and objective science as being damaged by the Handbook of Science & Technology Studies. London: Sage levels of commercialisation being foisted on those in universities (see Moriarty 2008 for example). Public surveys have alsoindicated that the perception of the value of SET is tarnished by Langley C (2005). Soldiers in the laboratory: military its commercialisation (People Science and Policy Ltd/ TNS 2008).
involvement in science & technology – and some alternatives.
These themes are examined in depth in the remainder of this Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility.
Langley C, Parkinson S & Webber P (2007). More soldiers inthe laboratory: the militarisation of science & technology – an References and further reading
update. Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility.
(web links accessed in June 2009, unless otherwise indicated) BBC News (2009). Universities merged into business. 5 June.
Langley C, Parkinson S & Webber P (2008). Behind closed doors: Military influence, commercial pressures & the BERR (2008). The 2007 R&D Scoreboard. London: HMSO & compromised university. Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform.
Brumfiel G (2008). Payback time. Nature 453: 1150-1151.
doi:10.1038/4531150a Martin B R & Tang P (2007). The benefits from publicly fundedresearch. SEWPS Paper No: 161. Sussex: SPRU.
Calvert J (2006). What's special about basic research? Science,Technology & Human Values 31: 199-220.
Monbiot G (2003). Guard dogs of perception: The corporate 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 21 Science, engineering and technology – background on structures, policies and funding takeover of science. Science & Engineering Ethics 9: 49-57.
Moriarty P (2008). Reclaiming academia from post-academia.
1. The principle of autonomy for the UK Research Councils is enshrined in the Haldane Principle, which was formulated in 1918 by the Nature Nanotechnology 3: 1-3.
Haldane Committee. The report that the Committee produced OECD (2002). Frascati manual: Proposed standard practice for suggested that research needed by government departments could surveys on research & experimental development. Paris: be separated into that required by specific departments and that Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development.
which was ‘open' and more general – the ‘pure' research describedin section 2.2. It recommended that departments should oversee Office of National Statistics (2008). First Release: Gross specific research but the general research should be under the domestic expenditure on research and development 2006. ONS control of autonomous Research Councils, which would be free 19. March. London: Office of National Statistics.
from political and administrative pressures that might discourage research in certain areas. The first research council to be created asa result of the Haldane Report was the Medical Research Council.
Office of National Statistics (2009). First Release: Grossdomestic expenditure on research and development 2007. 20 In the 1970s a major revision to the application of the Haldane March. London: Office of National Statistics.
Principle in UK research followed from the publication of the Rothschild Report (1971), and its implementation which transferredabout 25 per cent of the then Research Council funds, and the People Science and Policy Ltd/ TNS (2008). Public Attitudes to decisions on the research to be funded with them, back to Science 2008: A survey. A report for Research Councils UK and government departments. Significant changes have eroded the Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills.
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supported by the Research Councils.
Sarewitz D (1996). Frontiers of illusion: Science, technology and 2. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are an increasingly common means the politics of progress. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
of protecting discoveries or inventions in SET. Essentially IPRprotects the discovery of one individual or body against the use of Senker J, Balazs K, Higgins T et al (1999). European that discovery by others without financial reward.
comparisons of public research systems.
April 2009) 3. This figure is for all R&D whether in the UK or outside the country and hence differs from that quoted in Table 2.1 which lists solely Sheehan J (2001). Changing business strategies for R&D and UK-based R&D activity for the business sector.
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6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 22 Science and the corporate agenda 3. Introduction to the case studies
Commercial involvement with academics and their institutions in society organisations and business itself. We supplement this the UK and elsewhere can produce collaborations with the with web-based material and information from SGR contacts potential for genuinely positive outcomes. For example, academic both inside and outside of academia. In particular, the evidence researchers working with business create pathways by which we present focuses on the degree to which business can and new technologies and practices are distributed within society – with some of these technologies leading directly to health or 1. Influence the nature of the research agenda, including environmental benefits. Many developments in science, narrowing its scope; engineering and medicine require innovative commercialpathways (Wright et al 2007). However, the key players in the 2. Have an impact on the direction of, and introduce bias into corporate world are frequently very powerful and driven more by the results of, specific research studies (both intentional and increased financial return on their funding than by ‘public good' intentions; it is here that the crux of the problems with 3. Compromise the openness and transparency of research commercial involvement are to be found. studies (for example, through commercial confidentiality Given that universities are not commercial entities, there is a restrictions); and marked potential for bias and conflicts of interest to arise in 4. Influence the public interpretation of research results (for collaborations between business and the academic community.
example, through lobby groups) and potentially compromise Corporate partners are in a powerful position since they have the public perception and acceptance of SET developments.
access to considerable funding opportunities. Furthermore, As we have discussed earlier, our intention in this report is to researchers who obtain commercial funds are often perceived as provide a counterbalance to the prevailing pro-business stance bringing prestige to the university or department and can within most political and professional SET communities, which thereafter attract further support from both corporate and non- overlooks many of the negative effects ensuing from the corporate sectors (Washburn 2005). Yet, as we shall see, commercial involvement with universities and SET more commercial funding can also import obvious (or subtle) expectations of the outcome of the collaboration with academics. The following chapters explore five industrial sectors in detail –pharmaceuticals, tobacco, military/defence, oil and gas, and References and further reading
biotechnology – to see how businesses have interacted with the Washburn J (2005). University Inc. New York: Basic Books.
SET community and how negative effects that are capable ofcompromising SET and the research undertaken have arisen. We Wright M, Clarysse B, Mustar P & Lockett A (2007). Academic focus on business-university interactions, only discussing R&D entrepreneurship in Europe. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
undertaken in-house within companies in a limited number ofsituations.
In the case studies that follow we discern both common patternsand individual differences in the ways in which each commercialsector affects SET. For instance, the tobacco industry has activelypromoted those scientists who are prepared to cast doubt on thewell-established relationship between smoking and illness, whilstthe pharmaceutical companies are sometimes culpable increating clear or more subtle forms of research bias. We will alsohighlight areas where large corporations have particularly stronginfluence over the R&D agenda – such as military companies inthe security field or oil and gas companies in the energy field –and how this can marginalise work on alternatives. The evidence we present comes from a range of sources:academic papers where such material exists, but also reportscompiled by researchers and analysts within government, civil 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 23 Part II – Case Studies 4. The pharmaceuticals sector
The involvement of private business in academic and clinical developments in health care owe much to ‘pure' research – research has become widespread since the early 1980s. The discovering the various processes that underpin both health and pharmaceutical industry is heavily involved in academic research disease. The results and methodologies thus derived can lead to worldwide (Glaser & Bero 2005). Given the health care new therapeutic molecules, devices and therapies, which use orientation of the industry, it is often argued that such ‘applied' research for their manufacture and development. These involvement has major advantages for global health care.
two strands of research are undertaken within both the business However, numerous criticisms have been made about this close and university sectors. collaboration – many of which come from the academic The pharmaceutical industry exerts considerable influence over community itself (for example, Little 2000; Anon 2001; Glaser & medical R&D via its substantial economic base – see Table 4.1.
Bero 2005) – and, as we shall see, these criticisms give serious Two of the top five global companies are based in the UK.
cause for concern. Additionally, we need to remind ourselves thathuman health depends upon a host of factors other than the use This influence is set to increase: the UK Office for Life Sciences of pharmaceuticals – these include lifestyle, environmental, headed by Lord Drayson has recently launched a Life Sciences economic and social factors, as well as access to a range of Blueprint which seeks to support the pharmaceutical and other health services. biotechnology industries through a number of actions designedto speed up the availability of new treatments (SPIN 2009).
In this section, we document the main criticisms. We begin,however, with a brief overview of the role of the pharmaceuticalindustry within the health care system, including a description of 4.1.1 The drug development process
the drug development process. We then outline the growth of the The development of new drugs or vaccines requires major R&D involvement of the pharmaceutical industry within the academic investments of finance and expertise within the companies world, before analysing the problems that have arisen.
themselves and increasingly in the publicly-supporteduniversities and research institutes. In addition there is a 4.1 Background on the pharmaceutical
substantial regulatory testing and standards apparatus which must be adhered to in order to produce safe and effectivetherapeutic molecules, especially given the problems that have Health care in industrialised nations depends to a significant arisen with the post-marketing reactions of a number of degree upon pharmaceutical and medical devices. New individuals to powerful drugs. All these requirements contribute Table 4.1 - Top ten global pharmaceutical companies by sales, 2007
Market share (%)
Johnston & Johnston Source: Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (2009) 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 24 Science and the corporate agenda to the increased R&D costs of new drugs and other molecules.
Whatever the exact sums involved it is clear that drug Clinical trials (i.e. studies involving human volunteers) of new development is extremely costly and involves a lot of time and candidate drugs and other molecules use funds from government expertise. It is the spiralling costs and the sustained drive to (directly and indirectly) and from the companies themselves. increase profits that adds to the momentum for collaborationbetween universities and the pharmaceutical industry.
Estimates of the total cost of developing a pharmaceuticalproduct vary widely and have been the subject of considerable Considerable numbers of clinical trials at all stages of the controversy. However, data from various sources in the USA development of novel drugs or devices are funded by the (which has the largest pharmaceutical market and the largest pharmaceutical industry, usually starting with the design of the research literature) suggest that new drug development can take study, choice of comparator drugs, and the selection of 10 to 20 years. This development period has grown in the last 20 investigators. The industry increasingly makes use of outsourcing years because of various regulatory requirements and the size to commercial and academic Contract Research Organisations and complexity of clinical trials. Estimated R&D costs for the drug (CROs). These have been linked to bias in research undertaken development process (see Box 4.1) vary from $445 million (pre- and its reporting (Lenzer 2008; see also Lexchin et al 2003; tax) to around $800 million per drug (DiMasi et al 2003).
Glaser & Bero 2005). Of course, all companies, whether or not they are involved withthe health care community, owe ultimate financial responsibility Box 4.1 – Drug development steps
to their shareholders who demand growing returns on their Understanding of disease (involves university- and industry- investments. Many companies do in fact see the conflict between patient need and vulnerability and the drive for increasing profits(see Brennan et al 2006). However, evidence has been accumulating of company practices that compromise the New molecular entity (NME) standards of sound medical practice and patient care in the drive to increase profits (Brennan et al 2006). For example, there are a number of widely-reported cases where companies have, with Series of tests and further refinement of NMEs in some cases the active involvement of universities, exerted a variety of pressures to keep researchers from disclosinginformation on the safety of products (see section 4.3). The Selection of promising NME for development overwhelming need for transparency in addressing medical research is spelt out again in a recent editorial in the BritishMedical Journal (Smith 2009).
Pre-clinical and non-clinical tests before administration tohuman population of volunteers/patients 4.2 The growing economic agenda within
Phase I – healthy volunteers used to test the new compound medical R&D
Medical R&D – both public and private – comprises a large fraction of the total R&D spending in the UK (and the Phase II – tests of NME to establish efficacy and patient industrialised world as a whole). In the UK, funding from research organisations and industry tends to be directed toward clinical,biological and genetic research rather than toward preventive measures which address the causes of the commonest diseases Phase III – studies in large populations to provide safety and and how to avoid them. There is no obvious set of government efficacy date for granting of a licence for the NME priorities for public health research (Wanless 2004). In addition,there is a growing emphasis on economic end-points discernable across the medical sector. Licence Application in the UK – filing data with the regulatory The Wellcome Trust, for example, now sees technology transfer arising from its own research funding programmes as an essential element. The government's White Paper Innovation Phase IV – post-marketing studies of those receiving the Nation of March 2008 addressed once again the drivers of NME to pick up adverse effects within the population economic growth and the role of SET in the innovative pathwayto products and services. This White Paper announced thesetting aside of £2.5 billion for the "support and promot[ion of] 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 25 The pharmaceuticals sector public service innovation over the next three years" (DIUS 2008).
and the development of new therapies – and thereby for human Included in this allocation was an extra £60 million, in health. However, the collaboration between the pharmaceutical partnership with the Wellcome Trust, for a Health Innovation industry and academia has given rise to a number of serious Council to promote the discovery and adoption of innovation – concerns. The concern most often expressed is bias towards the most of which will involve SET expertise. Additionally, there is to perspective of the sponsoring corporation (see Box 4.2). This can be a new Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research – be connected to conflicts of interest of the researchers. Another to work with the MRC and the Department of Health with a concern is that the high cost of clinical studies often creates an budget of £1.7 billion per annum by 2010/11. Such initiatives incentive for them to be carried out in countries with less rigorous are embedded within an environment which stresses the safety legislation. All these factors not only impact on the efficacy importance of partnering with commercial players and an R&D and safety of new medicines and their impact on the broader agenda directed at new treatments and therapeutic molecules – health agenda but also on the integrity and public perception of drugs, vaccines and a new generation of materials and devices – the science and medicine involved in the development and with the targets being predominantly economic end-points.
testing processes. Both the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council(BBSRC) and the MRC have a number of programmes that Box 4.2 – Bias
support technology transfer from their own research funding –both Research Councils working with pharmaceutical partners in Bias can be of two major forms: R&D. The BBSRC, joined by the Engineering and Physical Sponsorship bias is where the funding source for a trial Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and pharmaceutical of (for example) candidate molecules of potential use to companies, set up the Bioprocessing Research Industry Club patients affects the result of the trial in a systematic and which funds researchers at seven UK universities, at the time of significant way. Sponsorship bias includes publication writing, to become actively involved in the drug development bias where the publication of results is compromised by process (BBSRC 2009).
the influence of the sponsor of the research in either Other medical research charities are working with obvious or subtle ways.
pharmaceutical companies in the development of new Marketing bias is where companies present their therapeutics for treating a variety of cancers for instance. All such products in the best possible light, and are selective collaborations make use of university-based expertise in SET and about what facts they choose to make public. This bias medicine in ways that mirror that found in the military and tends to be found in spin-off companies looking for capital, and in large companies seeking to market new In 2007, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors were the and expensive products, tests or devices.
largest corporate investor in R&D in the UK. These sectorsaccounted for 37 per cent of the total budget of the UK's top 850corporate R&D funders (known as the UK850) (BERR 2008).
Conflicts of interest and the potential for bias of various kinds are GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca were, by far, the highest of the often very subtle and not clearly seen as such. They can arise through the need to conform to industrial needs and practices Despite pharmaceutical companies spending increasing sums on without the research or publication being intentionally dishonest.
R&D over the past ten years, productivity, as measured by new Bias can also arise because of exaggerated and unsupported treatment molecules (drugs, vaccines and the so-called claims being made of new discoveries or methods, when seeking ‘biologics') approved by the various regulatory agencies, has funding for commercial development. Professor Nicholas declined. Part of the drive to seek partners within the university Ashford, quoted in Krimsky's book Science and the public community is to offset the high costs of developing and then interest, discussed the subtlety of bias in scientific research, and testing new molecules for human patients. Similarly, the use of why it is absolutely vital to be open about all aspects of industrial CROs to undertake R&D is an attempt to reduce the costs of the involvement with the research process, especially the results of drug development process.
tests and their publication (Krimsky 2003). We read later(chapters 5 and 8) of both sponsorship and marketing bias beingfound in the corporate activities of the tobacco and biotechnology 4.3 Problems related to commercial
Results from clinical trials (undertaken by pharmaceutical It is frequently argued that the expansion of R&D funded by the companies themselves or the CROs) are frequently seen as the pharmaceutical industry is very beneficial for both the economy property of the companies, who analyse and publish the results 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 26 Science and the corporate agenda in carefully chosen ways (Mirowski & Van Horn 2005). There is Data implicating funding bias was also discussed in a paper that growing evidence that some form of support from looked at a large study of 370 randomised drug trials. The pharmaceutical companies can adversely affect perspectives and authors of this study showed that those trials funded by the research practices (for instance Als-Nielsen et al 2003; Glaser & pharmaceutical companies (today the norm) tended to be more Bero 2005). Policy analysts such as Lisa Bero in the USA have positive about effects of the drug (51 per cent of trials funded by documented how widely industrial funding – especially in the profit organisations) compared with similar trials not receiving tobacco and pharmaceutical sectors for example – can commercial funding (16 per cent by non-profit) (Als-Nielson et al negatively influence the outcome of studies. They have clearly shown how measures to address bias and other adverse effects, Clinical researchers (including those in universities) involved with such as conflicts-of-interest policies on the part of journals, are clinical trials are not obliged to report negative or ambiguous inadequate and tend to vary across the scientific disciplines findings from their testing of new therapeutic molecules. Such (White et al 2009; Giles 2005). negative results are often simply not published and, as there is Krimsky has published data which showed that of the 1,396 high no concerted effort to investigate this process, the extent is impact journals published in 1997, only 15.8 per cent had an simply unknown. One such alleged example concerns the explicit conflict-of-interest policy. Only 0.5 per cent of the papers antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) – which is of a class of drugs published in those journals included any disclosure of conflicting called ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors' (SSRI). This drug, interests. Such poor compliance has continued in the years since made by GlaxoSmithKline, was used to treat adolescents in the this paper was published (Krimsky & Rothenburg 2001; Ancker & USA. In 2006, the company alerted the public that there was an Flanagin 2007; Anraku et al 2009). Some journals, however, increased risk of suicidal behaviour in those who were prescribed have introduced more stringent publishing policies to ensure that it. However, documents released during a court case brought authors declare their potential conflicts of interest (Anon 2008a).
against the company revealed some data indicating a raised risk The growing research literature on pharmaceutical funding, the of this problem had been available internally since 1989. The clinical trials undertaken and the reporting of outcomes indicates company denied any deliberate attempt to mislead (Giles 2008).
a worryingly high level of bias. Although outright deception There have also been several high profile cases reported in the appears to be rare, there is burgeoning data to show that there press involving researchers and conflicts of interests following is a pervasive tendency to distort the characteristics of various from financial involvement with pharmaceutical companies. For candidate drugs, their effectiveness and their negative effects instance, three researchers at Harvard University have recently (Glaser & Bero 2005; Giles 2006). been accused of breaking conflict-of-interest rules after they For example, evidence from systematic reviews has shown that failed to declare that they received substantial fees from industry funding for research is strongly associated with research pharmaceutical companies. The researchers, who were findings favourable to the sponsor, independently of the statistical psychiatrists, under-reported their earnings over a period of significance of the results (Lexchin et al 2003; Glaser & Bero seven years. One of them, Joseph Biederman, is a renowned 2005). Possible explanations for this observed outcome are the child psychiatrist whose research is linked to increased use of framing of the research question, study design, study conduct, antipsychotic medication in children. Dr Biederman was found to and publication and related biases (see references in Glaser & have earned at least $1.6 million (£810,000), much of which Bero 2005). It has also been pointed out that this bias can be due was not declared as required by Harvard University (Gill 2008). to financial gain and personal ambition on the part of researchers(Giles 2006). A number of papers in the last decade have shown ‘Ghost writing' or ‘honorary authorship' of papers involves the that there is a significant level of reporting bias in randomised academic community producing papers on research in which trials (which are essential to the safety and efficacy assessment they have not taken an active role in writing, the paper having in of new drugs) (Bekelman et al 2003; Glasser & Bero 2005; fact been compiled by an employee of a pharmaceutical Melander et al 2003). Chan and Altman describe the incomplete company. The resultant paper then carries the name(s) of reporting of outcomes in published articles of randomised trials, academic researchers who may not even have seen the paper or which they assert is common and hence argue that the literature reviewed its contents, although they have undertaken much of describing the effects of new drugs is at best biased. They the research. Whilst such a practice does not necessarily suggested that trial protocols should be made public (perhaps in introduce either misconduct or bias, it is clearly not open nor the methodology section accompanying the test results in the does it lead to responsibility being shared between all the research publication) (Chan & Altman 2005). Others have researchers involved. Several studies have shown that this is a reported that the non-publication of negative findings has led to very common practice in the biosciences literature. Gotzsche and over-estimates of efficacy of antidepressants in children co-authors found ‘ghost authorship' in 70 per cent of articles that (Jureidini et al 2004) and adults (see Moncrieff et al 2005).
they examined (Flanagin et al 1998; Gotzsche et al 2007). 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 27 The pharmaceuticals sector Box 4.3: Corporate pressure on pharmaceuticals researchers
Case study A
Case study B
In 2002 Aubrey Blumsohn, a bone metabolism researcher at the Dr Nancy Olivieri found herself in a similar battle to Blumsohn University of Sheffield, and Richard Eastell, Dean of Research at about the safety and clinical efficacy of a treatment she was the University of Sheffield, signed a contract with Proctor and studying in industry-sponsored clinical trials. In 1996 Dr Olivieri, Gamble (P&G) to evaluate the effectiveness of the company's a Canadian blood specialist, identified an unexpected risk of a osteoporosis drug, Actonel. Eastell had already undertaken one drug used to treat an inherited blood disorder. She was studying strand of the evaluation, which concerned drug metabolism in the drug, an iron chelator used to treat the iron overload which the blood and urine. The latest project was intended to provide results from the blood disorder, for Apotex Inc. When she tried to an objective overview of the research and so evaluate the inform patients and colleagues about the problem, the company clinical effectiveness of Actonel.
prematurely stopped the study, and informed Dr Olivieri that she Eastell had already encountered problems – the company had would face legal action should she disclose the risks of the drug not allowed him to undertake data analysis in work with Actonel.
to any third parties. This meant that he could not disclose details of the experimental Several months later she found a second and more dangerous protocol and the results to others in the field. He suggested that risk through analysis of patient records. Again the company in order to avoid future criticisms, analyses should be when it learnt of the further problems warned Dr Olivieri of undertaken independently of the company, and he suggested to possible legal action. Despite the intimidation from the company P&G that the independent investigator be Aubrey Blumsohn. and the lack of help from either the hospital or university for Blumsohn and colleagues undertook a large analysis of blood whom she worked Dr Olivieri informed her patients and also and urine samples of female patients, some of whom were spoke about the risks she uncovered to the scientific taking Actonel and some of whom were in a control group; the community. The dispute became public in 1998 when the researchers were ‘blind' to which came from which group.
findings were published by Dr Olivieri in a peer reviewed journal. Despite numerous requests after the research for the 'key' to Up to 2002, when Dr Olivieri was completely vindicated through the identity of the data in order that the work could be published, a number of independent reviews, she had been subjected to a P&G refused to give permission, deciding instead to analyse the series of outspoken public criticisms by Apotex Inc, the data and arrange for the material to be written up themselves, university and by individuals, all of which attempted to discredit by a company-friendly ghostwriter. her and the studies in which she participated. In what became a long and tortuous battle, Blumsohn realised Sources: Bonetta (2001); Thompson et al (2001); Olivieri (2006).
that P&G were not making available all of the patient data (around 40 per cent was missing) in the publications reporting on the effectiveness of the drug. The company continued to These are two cases among the many which have come to light refuse Blumsohn sight of the patient data. When he complained in which individuals have been denied ways of bringing attention on several occasions to the company about the manipulation of to negative or dangerous outcomes in drug trials. They clearly data, they responded by removing the misleading data from a indicate the problems in trying to balance patient safety with the paper with his name on it, but still only reported the positive profit motive, as well as the lack of robust sources of support for effects of the drug in educational and other publications from researchers to voice their concerns, the lack of safeguards for the company. The University of Sheffield, in response to the approaches of Blumsohn, allegedly offered a significant sum objective science to be disseminated and the lack of sufficient ($300,000) for him to stop voicing his concerns and, when he support for their staff from institutions that depend upon the spoke to the media, they suspended him from his post at the largesse of multinational companies (see also Smith 2009).
This case clearly illustrates some of the serious problems that can arise when commercial factors are given too much priority in university research.
Source: Baty (2005) 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 28 Science and the corporate agenda Given the expense of clinical trials (see section 4.1) many prescribing specific drugs can negatively influence patient health companies are running such trials in countries like India where the costs are considerably lower and the population is large with There is another trend: especially in the last ten years, increasing numbers suffering from diseases to be found in the pharmaceutical companies have begun to actively ‘expand' the USA and Europe. Whilst there may be financial benefits to India definition of human disorders and thereby produce the markets and other economically poorer nations – the trials cost around for which their R&D can design and develop suitable products $100 million (a 2005 figure) in India as against $180 million in (Moncrieff 2003; Moncrieff 2008). ‘Disease awareness' the USA (Padma 2005) – the lack of tight ethical regulations have campaigns form part of the associated marketing exercises, resulted in a number of high profile incidents which showed both which are created to establish or expand a niche for new drugs the pharmaceutical companies and academics from the West in (Pharmaceutical Marketing 2002). One such example involves a poor light, as well as risking the lives of the trial participants Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Moncrieff has described how (Padma 2005; Mudur 2009). company-sponsored research purported to show that SAD was far For example, a clinical trial of an anti-cancer drug in India more prevalent than had been assumed. The US public relations attracted the scrutiny of Johns Hopkins University officials after company, Cohn and Wolfe, was employed by the then SmithKline, physicians in India raised questions about the manner in which manufacturers of Seroxat (UK) or Paxil (USA). They hired academic the study was conducted. The researcher was identified as psychiatrists and found various willing patients to speak to the serving on the biology faculty of Hopkins's Krieger School of Arts media about SAD. A few months later SmithKline launched and Sciences since 1965. Conducted in 1999 and 2000, the advertisements for Paxil as a treatment for SAD. By the end of the clinical trial involved 27 cancer patients in Kerala, India, to assess year sales for the drug hit a record high (Moncrieff 2003).
a treatment to combat the growth of oral cancer. The principal The New Scientist carried a special report in 2006 which looked investigator of the study had not obtained approval from a at how certain grass-roots patient groups in the USA received Hopkins institutional review board, whilst assuring administrators substantial donations from industrial sources. The journal that the study protocol had been approved by appropriate described how funds went to those groups which represented authorities in India and that proper informed consent was diseases from which pharmaceutical companies had the obtained. It also appeared that insufficient safety data was opportunity to profit (Marshall & Aldhous 2006). Examples collected (Padma 2005). included the Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) Foundation whose A particularly disturbing case was recently reported by journal 2005 revenues totalled $1.4 million (£770,000) - $450,000 of Science. Young children were enrolled in clinical trials in India which came from GlaxoSmithKline and almost $178,000 from without adequate safeguards – and several of the infants taking Boehringer Ingelheim. GlaxoSmithKline's drug Requip was part died. The trials were run with the active participation of the approved for the RLS in 2005, and Boerhringer Ingelheim had a prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Anon drug, at the time of the New Scientist piece, pending FDA approval. Both treatments were supposed to help with long-term Further examples of bias and distorted framing of research and control of RLS. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance health care stemming from pharmaceutical funding can be found appeared to receive around 77 per cent of its funding from 15 in psychiatry and the prescribing patterns of psychiatrists. Here major donors in 2005, 12 of whom were drug or device the bias does not involve the testing of NMEs, nor the funding of companies (Marshall & Aldhous 2006).
more basic research, but the use of psychiatric drugs. This has Similarly, Roche, which produces anti-obesity drugs, has funded increased dramatically in the last decade, with antidepressant surveys of obesity in the UK and France and also genetic studies prescribing in the UK having risen by 253% in the ten years up using the large human datasets from Iceland and involving the to 2003 (NICE 2004). In the period 2000 and 2002 the UK saw private Icelandic company deCODE Genetics (Boseley 2004). All a 68 per cent rise in the number of children being prescribed their approaches stress the biological origin of a specific medical drugs to calm or stimulate the brain (Wong et al 2004). Many condition, amenable to drug treatments, rather than considering have shown that the prescribing patterns adopted by General the role played by lifestyle, including our high calorie culture and Practitioners (GPs) are strongly influenced by interaction with sedentary lives. industry representatives, attendance at drug company events, various gifts, and the impact of industry involvement with the Pharmaceutical companies have also influenced therapeutic training of GPs (Moncrieff et al 2005; Moncrieff 2003). In the UK drug use by direct-mail advertising to potential customers in the and USA conflicts of interest arising from financial ‘incentives' for USA and Canada, with manufacturers in the USA spending £2.28 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 29 The pharmaceuticals sector billion pounds on the technique in 2005. Data reported in the implicit emphasis on the healthcare needs of the wealthier British Medical Journal in 2008 indicates that such techniques nations that is reflected in the investment patterns of the can increase the use of a drug that has been removed from the industry. The greater part of the investment in wealthier countries market because of safety concerns. This has important is made with the ‘diseases of affluence' in mind, with a consequences, not only for prescribing patterns and patient corresponding neglect of the diseases prevalent in the poorer safety, but also for public confidence in the scientific basis of countries. Much of the global spending on health R&D (around 97 drug safety testing and evidence-based medicine in general (Law per cent) continues to come from high-income nations. The focus et al 2008).
tends to be on diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers and obesity-related complaints. The communicable diseases like The pharmaceutical companies also look upon training and sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and, up to a decade or so education as valuable pathways over which to exert influence.
ago, AIDS simply did not attract the interest of the Such influence affects those already in research or clinical pharmaceutical companies and so their treatments tended to be medicine or young people on their way to such career neglected. The 1990 Commission on Health Research for destinations (see Brennan et al 2006). Hence companies such as Development estimated that less than 10 per cent of health GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer fund student awards (undergraduate research resources were used to tackle the diseases endemic in and post-graduate), prizes and posts at universities. the poorer countries, where about 90 per cent of the world's In addition to funding and undertaking teaching support and health problems occurred – known as the ‘10/90 gap'. This R&D, many pharmaceutical and device companies also support major imbalance still persists (Action for Global Health, 2007).
so-called continuing medical education of health care This is despite the best efforts of the World Health Organisation, professionals at various stages in their careers (Moynihan 2003; and charitable trusts such as the Gates Foundation and the Godlee 2006; Moynihan 2008). Wellcome Trust. Health care which is driven by the more wealthy Medical education has been supported by the pharmaceutical countries not only thwarts a more socially just world but can sector to a significant extent for many years in Europe and the increase the risks of conflict and disease, especially when many USA. In the latter, commercial support for continuing medical of the poor are facing resource and climate change problems education in 2006 provided around 60 per cent of the funding for (Burke & Matlin 2008; Chirac & Torreele 2006). programmes that doctors must take in order to maintain their These concerns highlight a broader issue underlying much that licences (Fletcher 2008). Such support can introduce pro- is covered in this chapter – that the pharmaceutical industry company modifications in prescribing patterns and tends to pursues a narrow agenda in relation to healthcare as a whole. If support an outmoded way of supplying the latest research it is allowed too much influence within R&D, it can divert findings to medical practitioners (Moncrieff 2003). There are resources away from other areas (for example, disease some signs that things are changing. Pfizer is reducing its prevention) which can yield better health outcomes, but are not expenditure on direct medical education and instead funds so economically valuable.
educational programmes which are run by universities, learned In summary, powerful pharmaceutical companies are able to societies and hospitals. Whilst this does not guarantee the influence academic researchers in a variety of ways and directly removal of bias from the educational process, it does put or inadvertently introduce bias in the reporting of trials of new industrial funding at arm's length from the practitioner. drugs and other molecules. Such activities compromise the Companies often invest in the infrastructure or in other tangible quality of SET and the research process, and undermine its value aspects of universities and bring to bear a variety of agreements to society at large. The mechanisms in place to correct this bias concerning how to make use of such investments. For example and conflicts of interest are insufficient (Chan 2008). The House GlaxoSmithKline has contributed £28 million to an imaging of Commons Health Committee Report of 2005 pointed out a centre at Imperial College London and signed a ten-year number of the problems which arise from corporate influence in research agreement with the university for using the facility the R&D associated with drug development. It suggested a (Imperial College London 2004). Whilst this kind of investment number of regulations that would reduce the effects, in order to will assist research efforts in universities it also forms part of a protect patients and SET (House of Commons 2005). However steady process of commercialisation of the context for SET and such powerful industries are able to influence governments too – introduces potential areas of ethical and practical difficulty.
and to shape the ways in which certain areas in SET and One further area of the pharmaceutical companies' research and medicine develop. This will be explored further throughout this development effort that has attracted considerable concern is the 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 30 Science and the corporate agenda References and further reading
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White J, Bandura A & Bero L A (2009). Moral disengagement in the corporate world. Account Research 2009:16:41-74 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 33 Part II – Case Studies 5. The tobacco products sector
Globally, the tobacco industry has had a long and especially Table 5.1 – Top five global tobacco companies by
controversial influence on the scientific research related to its market share, 2008
products. Evidence has grown steadily of the industry's attemptsover many decades to deliberately undermine the research demonstrating links between tobacco use and ill-health. In this section, we summarise this evidence of malpractice and highlight some of the tactics used. We start, however, with some China National Tobacco Co* background on the tobacco industry and the health impacts of Philip Morris International the products it sells.
British American Tobacco (BAT) Japan Tobacco International 5.1 The tobacco industry: some basics
Tobacco companies are powerful and influential commercial entities both in the UK and globally. Their aggressive marketing * China National Tobacco Co is a state-owned monopoly.
and business tactics push the sale of tobacco products Philip Morris International is part of the Altria group of companies.
worldwide. Consequently, over one billion people – one-quarter Sources: He & Yano (2009) & Imperial Tobacco (2008) of the world's adult population – are smokers, with the vast majority living in poorer, developing nations (WHO 2008). This has led to what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called a ‘global epidemic' of tobacco-related illness. WHO statistics of using tobacco products (18 per cent of all deaths of adults reveal that tobacco use is currently killing about 5.4 million aged 35 and over) in England in 2007 (NHS 2008).
people annually, more than tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria Scientific research underpins the development and manufacture combined. If present smoking trends continue, it is estimated that of various tobacco products. Scientific work has also been used by 2030 tobacco will kill 8 million people each year, with around controversially, to support a range of activities in the UK, USA and 80 per cent of the deaths occurring in the developing nations elsewhere to discredit accepted research and understanding of the relationship between illness and tobacco use, as we will In the earlier part of the twentieth century it became increasingly discuss in detail in the following sections. clear that smoking entailed health risks and this led to the Tobacco companies undertake in-house R&D, the nature of increased regulation of tobacco and its products and eventually which has changed significantly as a reflection of the growing to declining consumption in the industrialised nations. The evidence of substantial links between tobacco use and ill health.
tobacco companies in response expanded their markets in BAT, for instance, currently operates research centres in poorer nations and supported trade liberalisation. They undertook Southampton and Cambridge which undertake R&D to "lessen extensive marketing in countries demonstrating fewer smoking the negative health effects of tobacco" (BAT 2009). The company restrictions and limited public knowledge of the dangers of employs around 300 research staff and spent around £97 million tobacco products in its various forms (McDaniel et al 2008; on R&D in the financial year to 2008 (Cookson 2009). BAT, like other companies, also collaborates with academic researchers to Excluding the Chinese state tobacco monopoly, the world's undertake R&D of interest to the business, especially in harm second and fourth largest tobacco companies by market share – reduction measures, like nicotine patches. British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Tobacco – are based On the other hand, academic SET expertise (outside that in the UK (see table 5.1). BAT earned revenues of over £12 billion connected with industry) plays an important role in in 2008 (BAT 2008). understanding the effects of tobacco use on the health of At present around 10 million British adults smoke. A drop in smokers and non-smokers and in assisting the provision of cigarette sales followed the ban on smoking in public spaces in robustly-framed public health policy steps to reduce the harmful England in July 2007 (Lawrence 2008). Data from the Office of effects of tobacco. The industry has attempted to influence these National Statistics reveals that 82,900 adults died from the habit areas in a variety of ways, discussed below.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 34 Science and the corporate agenda 5.2 Tobacco industry smokescreen: a brief
hazards, to smoker and non-smoker alike (SourceWatch 2008b; Schick & Glantz 2007; Diethelm et al 2005; Fields & Chapman2003). Studies found in the archives of the American Tobacco More than any other corporate sector, the tobacco industry has a Company and undertaken by the industry, indicated, for instance, well-documented history of manipulating the funding, design, that second-hand smoke contained higher concentrations of methodology and publication of research to support its own carcinogenic chemicals than mainstream smoke and more marketing goals – the sale of its lethal products (Michaels 2008; nicotine, again indicating its health impact (Schick & Glantz McDaniel et al 2008; Cummings et al 2007; see later 2007; Fields & Chapman 2003).
discussion). Extensive documentary evidence is now availableshowing that the tobacco companies intentionally tried to Research by Philip Morris and R J Reynolds in the 1950s also obstruct and deny the overwhelming evidence that smoking found a variety of chemicals in tobacco smoke which had a range causes lung cancer and a variety of other respiratory diseases of effects on health. However, the industry pursued a concerted (from early evidence which emerged in the 1920s onwards).
programme of public relations activities and the funding of Later, the industry used a variety of methods to weaken the research in order to deny the health dangers of second-hand growing medical consensus that second-hand smoking causes a tobacco smoke (Schick & Glantz 2007; Ong & Glantz 2000), even number of illnesses in non-smokers, including infants (evidence though documents make it clear than the link between smoking gleaned from the US Attorneys General lawsuits and related legal and cancer was known and accepted by the tobacco industry by cases) (see Muggli et al 2003 for an overview).
the late 1950s (Cummings et al 2007). Box 5.1 summarises some major milestones in the scientific A large study of second-hand smoke and health was undertaken debate over the health effects of tobacco, emphasising some of by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the industry's negative activities. In the main text we provide published in 2002 (WHO/IARC 2002). It clearly demonstrated a some detail on specific cases of industrial malpractice and its significantly increased risk of lung cancer in non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke compared to those not exposed.
Internal tobacco company documents, released as a result of This finding echoes that of earlier studies (for example, Ong & legal action brought in the United States, provide a very detailed Glantz 2000). The IARC study, which was peer reviewed, was picture of the many ways in which the tobacco industry has criticised by the media and the tobacco industry, who contended influenced not only public policy, but also the scientific process that the data did not show any increase in cancer risk for those (SourceWatch 2008a, 2008b; McDaniel et al 2008; Apollonio & Bero 2007). In 1998 two legal settlements led to the public Philip Morris feared that the study, together with a monograph on release of a massive archive of previously confidential internal second-hand smoke from IARC, would trigger increased industry documents, and this together with earlier documentation restrictions on smoking in Europe. According to a paper in The indicates that the industry established and funded a number of Lancet (Ong & Glantz 2000), the company undertook an inter- research organisations and scientists who were prepared to industry, three-pronged strategy to downplay IARC's work. The produce research findings favourable to the industry (McDaniel et three threads of the attack were: to undercut the IARC research al 2008; Muggli et al 2003). The data thus produced were then by developing industry-based research that would shed doubt on used to question the scientific consensus on the effects of the studies from IARC; to manipulate the media and public smoking on human health – in terms of both the correlation opinion to question the risks of second-hand smoking; and to between smoking and illnesses suffered by smokers and the prevent government action to further restrict smoking. This impact of second-hand smoking on non-smokers – and to frame campaign strongly criticised the science used by IARC and legislation, shape public opinion and challenge litigation against suggested that the industry's view was more objective than that the tobacco industry. of independent scientists – a view supported by the media Tobacco companies in Europe and the USA have funded (Kennedy & Bero 1999). university-based research groups either to create credibility for The tobacco industry has also been active on the issue of the industry or to manufacture claims of the value or second-hand smoking and child health. The link between harmlessness of tobacco consumption over many decades. second-hand smoking and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) Using the internal tobacco company records mentioned above, was first clearly noted in 1992 by the US Environmental several researchers have shown that tobacco companies in the Protection Agency (EPA). The links between both prenatal and USA had carried out their own chemical and sensory postnatal exposure to second-hand smoke and the incidence of investigations of cigarette smoke since 1929, and found SIDS was published in an EPA report in 1997 (republished in carcinogenic factors in the smoke that would clearly suggest its 1999 by the US National Cancer Institute) (NCI 1999). 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 35 The tobacco products sector Box 5.1 - Tobacco, health and corporate tactics
1929: Early tobacco industry research indicating the possibility of a link between tobacco and health problems.
1950s: In 1951 Doll and Hill began a study of 40,000 doctors born between 1900 and 1930. Their investigation followed the health
of the participants, and they matched the illnesses to which they succumbed with their smoking habits. The first results published
as a preliminary paper in 1950 in a peer-reviewed journal clearly indicated that the lung cancer rate amongst heavy smokers was
20 times the rate of non-smokers (Doll & Hill 1950).
1954: Tobacco Industry Research Committee (later called the Council for Tobacco Research) set up by Philip Morris to attempt to
find plausible explanations of why tobacco smokers frequently developed lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Although the
Committee was supposed to support research on the links between smoking and health the majority of funds were used in public
relations, legal and lobbying activities. Its activities continued until 1999.
1955: The beginning of a variety of strategies used by the tobacco company Philip Morris to strongly influence the founder of the
American Health Foundation, Dr Ernst Wynder, in order to diminish any information he produced that was critical of tobacco use. A
series of publications have shown that Wynder did not acknowledge industry support which he received (while routinely
acknowledging those from non-industry sources such as the National Cancer Institute), in research or other publications or
announcements (Fields & Chapman 2003 for instance).
1972: The US Surgeon General's Report The Health Consequences of Smoking was the first to draw attention to the potential health
consequences of second-hand (or ‘side stream') tobacco smoke.
1977: Formation of the International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI), later becoming INFOTAB, by seven tobacco companies
to delay or thwart tobacco control policies in light of increasing evidence of the health effects of smoking. By 1984 the organisation
had 84 company members. ICOSI was part of a global network (parts of which still exist) conceived to undermine public health
1988: Center for Indoor Air Research was formed as a non-profit organisation by the tobacco industry as a response to increasing
concern about the health effects of second-hand tobacco smoke on non-smokers. The aim of the organisation was to: "Broaden
research in the field of indoor air quality generally and expand interest beyond the misplaced emphasis solely on environmental
tobacco smoke". The Center was disbanded as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (see below) between 46 US
Attorneys General and the American Tobacco industry (SourceWatch 2008a).
1990s: US Environmental Protection Agency reports on second-hand smoke (see text).
1992: INFOTAB is replaced by two smaller groups: the Tobacco Documentation Centre, which is still in operation; and Agro-Tobacco
Services. Together with other company-backed organisations they produced claims of the economic importance of tobacco in
1994-1995: Creation of a tobacco industry front group – ‘Get Government Off Our Back' – in the USA to fight tobacco legislation.
The major tobacco company R J Reynolds supported the group, which claimed to represent people who wished to maintain their
freedom to smoke.
1998: The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was entered into in November 1998. It was originally between the four largest
US tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states. In this agreement, the states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against
the tobacco industry for recovery of their tobacco-related health care costs. The settlement also exonerated the companies from
any private liability resulting from diseases linked to the use of tobacco products. The four companies agreed to stop certain kinds
of marketing practices and to reimburse the states for some of the medical costs they had incurred due to smoking-related illnesses.
The money also funded a new anti-smoking advocacy group, the American Legacy Foundation, responsible for such campaigns as
The Truth. The settlement also dissolved the tobacco industry groups: the Tobacco Institute; the Center for Indoor Air Research; and
the Council for Tobacco Research (NAAG 1998).
2001: Nottingham University and British American Tobacco (BAT) sign a £3.8 million deal to establish an International Centre for
Corporate Social Responsibility.
2003: An article was published in the British Medical Journal by James Enstrom of the University of California which claimed to
show that the spouses of smokers were not at increased risk of dying of lung cancer compared with the spouses of non-smokers.
A number of criticisms were levelled at the study including methodological problems and the fact that Enstrom had receiving funding
from the tobacco industry at several points in his career and thus was open to suggestions of sponsorship (or publication) bias.
(More details are given in the text.)
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 36 Science and the corporate agenda The tobacco industry has however used scientific consultants to the British Medical Journal, who had an unpaid post as Professor attack the evidence of the link between second-hand smoking of Medical Journalism at the university. Professor David Thurston, and SIDS. In a paper published in 2005, a variety of evidence a cancer researcher at the university, moved with his research from industry sources showed that Philip Morris had paid team to London University, saying "The university is seen to consultants to write a number of reviews in the medical literature encourage smoking and that is ethically wrong" (Cassidy 2001).
addressing the health effects of second-hand smoke in ways A number of articles were written at this time questioning the supportive of the industry (Tong et al 2005). This approach is ethical stance of those accepting tobacco industry funding.
similar to the use of ‘ghost writers' by the pharmaceutical Furthermore, the debacle at Nottingham also resulted in Cancer industry (see chapter 4). In one case cited by Tong et al, data Research UK withdrawing plans to provide funds of £1.5 million shows that Philip Morris successfully encouraged one consultant for buildings on the campus. to change his original conclusion that second-hand smoke is an The furore surrounding the Nottingham decision was independent risk factor for SIDS, to state that the role of second- instrumental in Universities UK reviewing its code of practice for hand smoke is "less well established", a view consistent with the funding of universities (Universities UK/ Cancer Research UK company's contention that only public health officials see 2004). Tobacco-industry funding has met with strenuous protest dangers from second-hand tobacco smoke, and not the industry at universities in Canada, the USA, Australia, Israel, UK and South (see Schlick & Glantz 2007). This is a glaring example of Africa (Chapman & Shatenstein 2001). Recent reports however sponsorship bias (see section 4.3).
indicate that tobacco monies are still finding their way into the Although the great majority of research using the previously university sector. For instance funds from Philip Morris are going confidential industry material has focused on the United States, to support research at Virginia Commonwealth University in the a number of researchers have pointed to the situation in Europe USA with restrictive clauses attached that permit publication of and especially Germany, which has had a very pro-smoking research findings only after agreement with the company (Finder stance at the government level. For example Gruning et al have shown that the influence of the tobacco industry over the German The question of the impact of tobacco funding on research and scientific and medical establishment from the 1950s up to at the ethos of the university was also raised by a very well least 2002 has been "profound and [we suggest] greater than publicised paper from the University of California (Enstrom & that documented in many other countries" (Gruning et al 2006).
The authors suggest that at least 60 senior researchers were Kabat 2003).
receiving both direct and indirect (through trade associations) In 2003 the University of California was the scene of funding from large companies like RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris, considerable discussion on this issue that, according to many and contend that the numbers of such industry-funded within the university, revealed an absence of sufficiently robust researchers may in fact be far higher. Bio-medical scientists who measures to deal with the question of tobacco funds being received funding in the 1960s and 1970s in Germany and the UK directed at campus research groups. The problems at the did not appear to have ethical concerns about accepting such University of California pivoted on the paper by Enstrom and funds, and Gruning and his co-authors suggest that this is still colleagues, which purported to show that second-hand smoking the case in Germany at least.
did not put non-smokers at risk of lung cancer (it left asidequestions about other diseases relating to second-hand smoke)(Enstrom & Kabat 2003). The data (from 1959 onwards) that 5.3 Recent academic controversies
Enstrom used was supplied by the American Cancer Society and Tobacco companies engage with the university sector in the the study was published in spite of having a number of manner described above not only to locate appropriate research methodological flaws pointed out by experts at the society expertise but also to build their credibility as responsible (Dalton 2007). The society was not aware that Enstrom had businesses. Large donations to universities can bring much received tobacco industry funding over a period of time for his needed funds to the host institution and also show the company research. Critics of tobacco funding at the University of California as acting philanthropically (Tesler & Malone 2008; Gould 2002). say that this case of less than robust research being supportedby the tobacco industry shows in sharp relief the problems with In 2001 there was considerable media coverage of a £3.8 million universities accepting funds from the industry (Pearson 2003; donation from BAT to Nottingham University to support the International Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility. Manysaw this funding as a fairly blatant attempt to gain credibility at a In a joint protocol issued in 2004, Universities UK and Cancer major university while ignoring the issue that the source of the Research UK (the major charitable cancer research funder in the funds depended upon the promotion of a health-damaging UK) published a number of guidelines for research undertaken product (Gould 2002; Chapman & Shatenstein 2001). The within universities. It stated that those accepting tobacco funds funding caused a number of resignations and departures from should ask themselves if accepting such monies would be the university, including those of Dr Richard Smith, the editor of detrimental to academic freedom and the ethical guidelines 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 37 The tobacco products sector normally pertaining to research. They also ask universities if * The sponsorship of individuals to question data clearly accepting tobacco money would be "potentially detrimental to showing the links between smoking and ill health, often using their reputation" (Universities UK/ Cancer Research UK 2004).
partial or misleading methods. This is a major concern when Cancer Research UK also stated that it would not fund any deliberate misrepresentation of research by tobacco funded research group that received funding from the tobacco industry.
lobby groups is undertaken; Given the long history of distorting evidence, it is hard to envisage * Funding that imparts sponsorship bias in studies of second- how research or infrastructure support (like the case with hand smoke and ill health; Nottingham University) from the tobacco industries could lead to * Use of offers of funds to universities in order to build tobacco open and unbiased scholarship. After all, the products of the industry credibility. The guidelines for research funding from tobacco industry will lead to health problems in many individuals, tobacco companies – from Cancer Research UK and and any research which demonstrates further health concerns Universities UK – partially address this problem.
related to tobacco use will be challenged by companies acting toprotect their market share or profits. Furthermore, the suspicionof funding or publication bias, even where it may not occur, Summary of detrimental effects of tobacco
hampers free and objective discussion of the results of research industry influence on SET
supported by the industry.
Influence on the direction of the research agenda
Space does not permit detailed discussion of the globalcampaign of denial of the various dangers of tobacco products 1. A variety of partnerships between academic researchers and tobacco companies that skew research either to waged by the tobacco industry using citizen, trade organisations build credibility of the company/industry or to increase and bogus research bodies. These campaigns have made doubt about the risks of tobacco products; considerable use of the views and research of a small number of(often sympathetic) scientists to cast doubt on the health dangers 2. Research that concentrates on reducing the harm of of tobacco products. However, a summary of some of the tobacco products in order to overcome regulatoryhurdles and hence continue to widen markets for important landmarks in this story is given in Box 5.1. The industrymade extensive use of data provided by researchers it paid. The tobacco products.
media also played a role in obfuscating the health problems Influence on the direction and results of specific
associated with tobacco use and thereby delayed both public research studies (both intentional and
health measures and the public understanding of the dangers of tobacco (Apollonio & Bero 2007; Michaels 2008). This followed 1. Funding of researchers whose views are sympathetic to techniques used by a number of public relations companies the tobacco industry, and reduction of the ease with acting on behalf of the industry in order to marshal the popular which funded scientists can disseminate findings press, in ways which are very similar to those used by oil and gas negative to the industry.
companies and discussed in chapter 7 (see also Michaels 2008;Cummings et al 2007; Schlick & Glantz 2007). To achieve this, Influence on the openness of research studies
the public relations sector has often resorted to messages that 1. Use of restrictions on publishing data arising from create the sense of considerable uncertainty or doubt about the particular science involved in examining the effects of tobacco 2. Use of in-house company publications to release data use. Much effort has been expended in creating controversy rather than the vehicle of peer-reviewed journals.
where the weight of expert opinion sees no such controversy. Theaim has been, and continues to be, to plant seeds of doubt in the Influence on the public interpretation of research results
minds of the public, the legal profession and regulators about the 1. Emphasis on uncertainty in any tobacco research scientific basis for change (Muggli et al 2003).
indicating health risks, together with a general bias in In brief, the influence of tobacco industry funding raises many research reporting; important issues of ethical and practical importance to science 2. Use of industry-paid consultants to write about health and medicine. Such funding also influences the public perception effects of smoking and tobacco use. Their views are of science and medicine toward a negative view in ways that are sympathetic to the industry, but their links to the industry far more stark than those employed by the other industrial are often not declared; sectors examined in this report. Some of the more obvious 3. A variety of front organisations set up by, or with funding from, the tobacco companies to argue that the scientific * The global network of tobacco companies and manufacturers evidence does not necessitate further legal restrictions which have directly undermined public health measures (including the work of WHO); 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 38 Science and the corporate agenda References and further reading
of Public Health 96: 1-13. (Published ahead of print versionNovember 2005 as 10.2105/AJPH.2004.061507) (web links accessed in June 2009, except where otherwiseindicated) He P & Yano E (2009). Tobacco companies are booming despitean economic depression. Tobacco induced diseases 5: doi: Apollonio D E & Bero L A (2007). The creation of industry front groups: The tobacco industry and "Get Government Off OurBacks". American Journal of Public Health 97: 419-427.
Imperial Tobacco (2008). Annual report and accounts 2008.
BAT (2008). British American Tobacco Annual Report 2008.
Kennedy G E & Bero L A (1999). Print media coverage ofresearch on passive smoking. Tobacco Control 8: 254-260.
BAT (2009). Research and Development (R&D).
Lawrence J (2008). Smoking ban has saved 40,000 lives. The Cassidy S (2001). University torn apart by £3.8m tobacco deal.
The Independent, 19 June.
Mackay J, Eriksen M & Shafey O (2006). The tobacco atlas 2nd Chapman S & Shatenstein S (2001). The ethics of the cash Edition. Altlanta: The American Cancer Society.
register: taking tobacco research dollars. Tobacco Control 10:1-2.
McDaniel P A, Intinarelli G & Malone R E (2008). Tobaccoindustry issues management organizations: Creating a global Cookson C (2009). The academic ban on tobacco scientists.
corporate network to undermine public health. Globalization & Financial Times, 14 March.
Health 4: 2 doi: 10.1186/1744-8603-4-2.
Michaels D (2008). Doubt is their product: How industry'sassault on science threatens your health. Oxford: Oxford Cummings K M, Brown A & O'Connor R (2007). The cigarette University Press.
controversy. Cancer Epidemiology & Biomarkers Prevention 16:1070-1076.
Muggli M E, Hunt R D & Blanke D (2003). Science for hire: Atobacco industry strategy to influence public opinion on second- Dalton R (2007). Passive-smoking study faces review. Nature hand smoke. Nicotine & Tobacco Research 5: 303-314.
NAAG (1998). Master Settlement Agreement.
Diethelm P A, Rielle J-C & McKee M (2005). The whole truth & nothing but the truth? The research that Philip Morris did not want you to see. Lancet 366: 86-92.
NCI (1999). National Cancer Institute. Monograph 10: Health Doll R & Hill A B (1950). Smoking & carcinoma of the lung: effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
preliminary report. British Medical Journal 2: 739.
Enstrom J E & Kabat G C (2003). Environmental tobacco smoke & tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of NHS (2008). NHS: The Information Centre for health & social Californians, 1960-98. British Medical Journal 326: 1-10.
care. Statistics on smoking: England 2008. National Health Fields N & Chapman S (2003). Chasing Ernst L Wynder: 40 years of Philip Morris' efforts to influence a leading scientist.
Journal Epidemiology & Community Health 57: 571-578.
Finder A (2008). At one US university, tobacco money is asecret. International Herald Tribune, 22 May.
Ong E & Glantz S (2000). Tobacco industry efforts subvertingInternational Agency for Research on Cancer's second-hand Gould M (2002). Leading charity calls for total ban on tobacco smoke study. The Lancet 355: 1253-1259.
industry funding of research. studentBMJ 10: 303-352 Pearson H (2003). All in a puff over passive smoking. Nature doi: 10.1038/news030512-15 (published online 16 May).
Gruning T, Gilmore A B & McKee M (2006). Tobacco industry Schlick S F & Glantz S A (2007). Old ways, new means: tobacco influence on science & scientists in Germany. American Journal industry funding of academic & private sector scientists since 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 39 The tobacco products sector the Master Settlement Agreement. Tobacco Control 16: 157-164 doi:10.1136/tc.2006.017186 Smith D (2008). The state of the world atlas. London:Earthscan.
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6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 40 Science and the corporate agenda 6. The military/defence sector
The concept of ‘national security' has traditionally been defined security is framed by policymakers – many of them being very in terms of armed threats to the nation state, and thus the controversial. One key aspect in the UK has been the growing response to such threats has often been framed in military terms.
emphasis on high technology, weapons-based approaches to Such thinking continues to dominate the military/defence tackling security problems (Langley et al 2007), as is described industry today and the related research and development it in the UK Defence Technology Strategy, published in 2006 (MoD supports. However, a growing number of security analysts and 2006). This obviously has a very significant effect on the science many within the UK government are arguing that this is far too and technology communities because of the greatly increased narrow a perception and that security must be seen more spending on a whole range of security-related R&D and broadly, with much greater consideration given to tackling the technology programmes, from weapons systems to surveillance. roots of conflict, including related issues such as social justice Military R&D spending has also had a marked influence in many and natural resource problems (for instance Abbott et al 2006; other areas, such as the biosciences, information technology and Elworthy & Rifkind 2005; Cabinet Office 2008; Kearns and Gude data handling. Here questions about the potential security risks 2008; Langley 2005).
engendered by the research process itself and its variousoutcomes are coming to the foreground (James 2006; Langley This section examines the significant involvement of the military 2008; Rappert & McLeish 2007). For example, some industry within academic research and education, and the developments in gene manipulation can increase the risks of concerns related to this involvement, not least the narrow potential bioweapons being produced (see section 8.4.4).
conceptualisation of security it encourages. We begin with somebackground on the military industrial sector itself.
Corporations in the military/defence sector are often very large (see tables 6.1a and 6.1b, below) and their profits have risenconsiderably as a result of the ‘War on Terror'. For instance 6.1 Background on the military/defence
Lockheed Martin increased its profits from contracts by more than 81 per cent in the period 2001 to 2006. Boeing's contractsincreased by more than 52 per cent in the same period. BAE Global military expenditure has increased considerably since Systems – the UK's largest military corporation – saw more than 2001, reaching its highest level (in real terms) since World War a 442 per cent increase in its US contracts in the five years from II. In 2008, this expenditure stood at a massive $1.46 trillion 2001 (Langley et al 2007). There have also been a number of (£785 billion) (SIPRI 2009a). Spending is led by the USA whose significant acquisition activities among the world's arms share is about 42 per cent of the total. The UK is the fourth companies since 2004. These enhance the power and reach of largest military spender (in absolute terms) with the government military companies and carry their strategic influence across currently devoting about £35 billion of taxpayers' money to national borders. For instance BAE Systems acquired United military objectives – about 4.5 per cent of the global total (SIPRI Defense (USA), thus strengthening its role in the procurement process in the USA. QinetiQ, a major UK military technology The expansion in spending in the USA, UK and elsewhere has company, has demonstrated an aggressive and expansionist been mainly driven by the so-called ‘War on Terror'. This growth corporate focus, acquiring four US aerospace and military has also contributed to a variety of changes in the ways in which companies by 2005.
Table 6.1a - Top five global arms-producing companies (excluding China), 2007
Military sales as
Northrop Grumman 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 41 Part II – Case Studies Table 6.1b - Top five UK arms-producing companies, 2007
Military sales as
proportion of total
Babcock International Group * Globally, Rolls Royce ranks 17th in the world, with QinetiQ, Babcock and VT all ranking in the top 40.
Source: Figures from SIPRI (2009b) converted to UK pounds.
Integral to the market dominance and power of this industry is a aerospace and materials) – facilitated by taxpayers' money.
sustained high technology R&D effort, which receives Since the early 2000s the UK government has provided funding considerable funds from government sources, particularly in for a number of military-university consortia (comprising those countries with a marked military budget like the USA and academic research groups, corporations and government the UK (Langley 2005). The military companies also undertake departments) to pursue R&D with military objectives (Table 6.2).
significant levels of in-house R&D activity. In the UK, the Many universities, such as Southampton, Oxford, Imperial aerospace and ‘defence' sector is the second most R&D College, Cambridge and Cranfield, receive sizeable research intensive after the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector funds through their involvement in these ‘partnerships' to (BERR 2008). Most of the R&D effort which is focused on military undertake essentially military R&D. Such a situation owes much objectives in the UK tends to be concentrated in the big to the changes occurring in the last two decades not only in UK companies like BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and QinetiQ, but there science policy, the universities, and within the government are ‘hot spots' of intense R&D effort in small specialised ‘defence' and aerospace research establishments, but also companies within the sector (Langley et al 2007) . within the military companies themselves where R&D activities The world's largest funder of military R&D is unsurprisingly the have been largely restructured (Langley 2005; Langley et al US Department of Defense whose budget for the 2009 fiscal year is $82 billion (£44 billion) – 56% of the US government's total One result of these changes is that in the UK and USA, university R&D budget (AAAS 2008). According to the available figures, the research groups often have considerable military research UK government – through the Ministry of Defence (MoD) – is the portfolios. This trend has been examined by Scientists for Global third highest public funder of military R&D in the world, with an Responsibility, but otherwise has attracted little comment (Cantor annual budget of about £2.6 billion – around 30% of the total UK et al 1990; Langley 2005; James 2006; Langley et al 2007).
public R&D budget (Langley et al 2007; DIUS 2008). Edgerton has pointed out that the role of the military-industrial Military corporations tend to be powerful entities with close complex in the UK's military stance has received scant attention connections to government circles, and they undertake from the academic community (Edgerton 2006). Those wishing to significant lobbying activities, through trade associations like the look in detail at the extent and nature of the military involvement Society of British Aerospace Companies and also through public (both government and corporate) with researchers in universities relations companies (Langley 2005), an activity commonly found and with the school curriculum are encouraged to read our across the corporate sectors and discussed throughout this earlier publications (Langley 2005; Langley et al 2007). However, report. The focus of this lobbying emphasises the high to place military corporate involvement into its broader context technology approaches to security.
some details are essential here.
We have found during the course of our studies over the past five 6.2 Military involvement in UK universities
years that the funding provided by military corporations leads to The gradual commercialisation of UK universities discussed a widespread culture of secrecy and unwillingness to openly earlier in this report has created the scope for various kinds of discuss questions about research or teaching (Langley et al partnerships to be forged with military companies (especially in 2008). Section 6.3 discusses this issue in more detail.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 42 Science and the corporate agenda Table 6.2 - University-military consortia in the UK
UK Funding source
Ministry of Defence
Towers of Excellence
Joint Grants Scheme
the military sector3
1. All the military partnerships involve university research groups which receive funding from non-military sources too, including the Research Councils,foundations, and the government support mechanisms for research and teaching.
2. FLAVIIR is a collaborative programme between BAE Systems and EPSRC to the tune of over £6 million for unmanned airborne vehicles and involvesten UK universities including Cranfield, Cambridge and Imperial College London. 3. These forms of partnership include joint military and non-military funding of centres, research programmes or training within universities. They canbe of short or long duration.
Military research and development seeks to provide new and also have their own in-house R&D laboratories with highly skilled more effective weapons systems, support platforms for weapons researchers, plus a variety of ‘stand-alone' collaborative systems, and other forms of high technology – such as programmes with academic research groups. These partnerships communications and surveillance – that are central to the and programmes are summarised in Table 6.2 and are discussed modern concept of warfare. In the UK, the MoD has a key role in in more detail below.
securing such equipment and ensuring corresponding military The MoD and other government departments which engage in ‘superiority'. The MoD has a complex and largely clandestine funding R&D with a military focus (as well as other R&D which relationship with the military corporations to whom they turn forthe provision of military technology. The large corporations have may not primarily be military but is dual use – military and a number of clients in addition to the MoD, and the R&D effort civilian) enable corporations to actively seek expertise within which they undertake serves their whole client base not just that academic research groups. Many in the universities see corporate funds for research and teaching as a key to gaining prestige and attracting further funds from both corporate and With research being fundamental to the design and development government sources (Langley et al 2008; see also Washburn of new high-technology military systems, the universities tend to be involved in the early stages of the military production cycle(Langley 2005; Street & Beale 2007). The military corporations In the Fiscal Year 2005/6, the MoD provided around £22 million participate not only in the MoD-led partnerships (consortia) but through its Science and Technology Programme to UK 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 43 The military/defence sector universities (Langley et al 2007). Additional support for university The Defence Technology Strategy reiterated the intention of the R&D for military objectives (generally in the form of project co- military sector to draw further upon the expertise within the financing) has come from the former Department of Trade and academic research community, and also launched new initiatives Industry (DTI – now subsumed into the Department for Business, to provide innovative ideas for high-technology approaches to Innovation and Skills). security from both business and the academic community (MoD2006). This approach is intended to complement the wider Other, non-commercial sources of funding for military R&D find government policies which emphasis the commercialisation of their way into UK universities. For example, the US government SET, as discussed in chapter 2. provides military funding for UK research through theDepartments of Defense and Energy and the Office of Naval The three largest UK military/ defence corporations – BAE Research. The European Union is also set to provide funding for Systems, Rolls Royce and QinetiQ (see Table 6.1b) – each run EU-wide ‘security research' which will draw European major R&D programmes with academia in addition to the universities into R&D with a military focus (Hayes 2006). consortia described above.
We will briefly discuss the government and joint government- BAE Systems operates a variety of relationships with around 60 corporate military initiatives with UK universities first and then universities globally for its own R&D effort. Four of these examine in some detail the corporate schemes which engage relationships are for ‘strategic' purposes. Additionally, BAE with academic research, training and teaching. Systems has a suite of training and degree programmes withuniversities in the UK. Loughborough University, for example, with Currently there are four main ways in which corporate funding core funding from the East Midlands Development Agency, can, with the assistance of government and Research Council collaborates with BAE Systems in the Systems Engineering co-funding, reach universities for broadly ‘defence' R&D activities Innovation Centre. This centre has supplied systems engineers to (Langley 2005). These are: BAE (one thousand between July 2004 and the end of 2005).
1. Defence Technology Centres. At present there are four, with Given the competition within industry for skilled engineers, those the MoD earmarking £90 million for them over five years.
recruited to the military sector tend to stay there rather than Corporate partners include BAE Systems, General Dynamics, move to the civilian industries (Langley 2008) (see section 6.3 for Thales and Roke Manor Research. We describe their more on the competition for resources between the military and structure and corporate involvement below. civilian sectors).
2. Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IRCs). Two are in BAE also has a collaborative programme with the EPSRC (called nanotechnology and one in advanced computation. These FLAVIIR), funded to the tune of over £6 million for research into centres, in the main, are supported by the Ministry of unmanned airborne vehicles that involves ten UK universities Defence and the Research Councils, but the level of including Cranfield, Cambridge and Imperial College London.
corporate involvement in these centres is not clear (Langley Such autonomous or robotic vehicles are playing an increasing et al 2007). The IRC at the University of Birmingham had role in surveillance and attack functions in conflict situations, as Rolls Royce as a corporate ‘partner' in the period 2001-06 seen currently in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Use of these by the (Street & Beale 2007).
US military has attracted criticism, not least for the civilian 3. Defence and Aerospace Research Partnerships (DARPs).
casualties arising from these operations (for example, Sharkey These are part-funded by the MoD, the Engineering and 2007; OpenDemocracy 2009).
Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and formerly BAE Systems declined to respond to our repeated questions the DTI, as well as by industry. At the time of writing there are seeking basic information about its collaboration with the four DARPs involving two universities. university research community (Langley et al, 2008).
4. Towers of Excellence. These are joint partnerships with Rolls Royce, with its own funding together with monies from the industry, the research community and government.
UK government, has set up University Technology Centres (UTCs) Unfortunately, detailed, up-to-date, information is lacking to support research mainly in turbine engineering and materials although they are discussed in the 2006 Defence Technology (Langley et al 2008). At present there are a total of around 20 Strategy, when Thales, BAE Systems, Defence Science and such centres in the UK and Scandinavia. The intention of such Technology Laboratory, and Alena Marconi were known to be centres is to tap into the local university knowledge base to active in these partnerships (Langley 2005; Langley et al address specific questions of value to the company. In some 2007; Street & Beale 2007). situations the UTC's work complements that of other military The MoD also sub-contracts through its own Defence Science corporations' research programmes. For example, the University and Technology Laboratory. Other government schemes are of York UTC in systems and software engineering complements discussed in our earlier publications. that of BAE Systems funded Dependable Computing Systems 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 44 Science and the corporate agenda Centre and the DARP in high-integrity real-time systems, all of (and, indeed, expertise) tied up in large military R&D budgets, it which are located in the University of York. Such intensification of is unavailable for other urgent needs to which SET can make a military influence within university departments can be found contribution such as treatment of ‘neglected diseases', cleaner throughout the UK – examples include the universities of energy sources, or technology transfer to poorer countries.
Cranfield, Sheffield, Imperial College London and Southampton Furthermore, much publicly-funded military R&D is actually (see Langley 2005; Street & Beale 2007; Langley et al 2008).
undertaken by the commercial sector. For example, in 2005 (the QinetiQ, a major corporate player within these military consortia, latest figures available), the UK government spent £939 million with business in the UK and USA, intends to strengthen and on military R&D undertaken by UK industry, while the UK military widen its reach into the university SET community (Langley et al industry itself only provided £375 million (DIUS 2008). This 2008). It already has interactions with universities which include represents a considerable subsidy to the sector. Bath, Cardiff, Oxford, Imperial College London, Southampton, There are further subsidies for military involvement in the Surrey, Lancaster and York. QinetiQ staff are on industrial university sector. Street and Beale (2007) detailed the military advisory boards and the committees of the EPSRC and play a role involvement at 26 UK universities and found that the civilian in the Industrial Awards in Science and Engineering PhDs (part research council, the EPSRC, was involved in the part-funding of funded by QinetiQ and the EPSRC). During the research for our almost one-third of the military projects in the case study report Behind Closed Doors, we were unable to obtain any detail universities. There has been no open discussion about this level of the nature of these varied collaborative ventures even though of hidden support for the military industry or the opportunity costs we tried repeatedly (Langley et al 2008).
of undertaking such R&D within the universities.
Boeing, a very powerful military company globally, also funds The predominant way in which security is framed in the UK is science-based R&D activities in the UK, such as in the Advanced through the use of high technology weaponry and their support Manufacturing Centre, a £45 million collaboration with the platforms, together with a sophisticated network of University of Sheffield in manufacturing and composites. The communications derived from such R&D. Some of the UK's company also has a partnership with the universities of Cranfield, battlefield technology needs to be interoperable with that of the Cambridge and Sheffield in information technology, aeronautics USA's armed forces. This follows from the closeness of UK and and manufacturing.
US foreign and military policies – as part of the ‘special These various collaborations and consortia involving publicly relationship'. This results in the UK's security strategy having a supported academic researchers and the military sector – private high reliance on military approaches – and thus being very and government – tend to pursue high-technology means of expensive. Associated security programmes operated by the addressing security. The primary focuses of the UK military Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also consortia are at present: sensors; autonomous vehicles (robotic have a technological theme (Langley 2005; Langley et al 2007).
land and air vehicles); communication and computational The military focus of the UK's security stance continues despite technology; guided missiles; and complex weaponry (see Langley enormous shortcomings becoming apparent during the ‘War on et al 2007; Street & Beale 2007). There are also significant links Terror', showing quite clearly that this approach has serious with similar programmes in the USA.
failings. Despite speaking about the need to take a far wider viewof the ways in which security can be developed, the NationalSecurity Strategy launched in March 2008 (Cabinet Office 2008) 6.3 Problems related to military corporate
still saw a central place for force projection – as was in vogue involvement
during the Cold War. A major criticism of military R&D in general is that the current The complex nexus which supports the militarised security level of funding is so high compared with that for some key strategy of the UK depends in many ways upon corporate R&D, civilian sectors. For example, in 2006, governments in the richer, which is increasingly outsourced to university research groups industrialised nations of the OECD spent a total of $96 billion and highly specialised spin-out companies, some of which (£48 billion) on military R&D, but only $56 billion on R&D related involve academic researchers. This is a trend which goes hand- to health and environmental protection (OECD 2007). Renewable in-hand with the growth of commercialised universities in the UK.
energy R&D only attracted $1.1 billion (IEA 2007) despite the Our previous reports discuss this situation in detail (Langley global problems associated with carbon emissions and climate 2005; Langley et al 2007; Langley et al 2008). change (see chapter 7). A similar imbalance exists in the publicfunding of R&D in the UK, with military objectives attracting more The budgets which are made available to other, non-offensive, than twice that for health objectives, and more than 15 times that forms of security are far smaller than that given over to the which supports environmental protection (DIUS 2008). This military. In 2007/08 for instance, compared to an MoD budget of imbalance has serious opportunity costs. With so much funding £33 billion, only £5.3 billion was allocated to overseas 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 45 The military/defence sector development by the UK government (DFID 2009). Many areas of earlier there is little academic research data on the issues of development funding are key to building peace in poorer funding bias and the framing of the R&D agenda brought about countries – and indeed to helping reduce the security risks faced by military-university collaboration in the UK. Similarly the by the UK, as the government acknowledged in the National influence on career choice and perception of SET brought about Security Strategy. To aid peace building, the Conflict Prevention by the widespread influence of the military in schools and Pools have been set up, and are run jointly by the MoD, Foreign colleges (described briefly in our earlier reports – see Langley and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International 2005; Langley et al 2007) has attracted limited investigation. Development. However, the total budget for the pools in 2007/08 Consequently, SGR carried out a further research project (Langley was only £74 million (CPP 2007) – a very small fraction of the et al 2008) to obtain some basic information on these issues to augment that in our previous reports. The overall intention was to As it is a finite resource, any university expertise that is used to provide some data to better understand the impact of military augment that from the commercial sector in the research, design sector involvement with the academic community in the UK, and and building of military equipment and its various platforms will to trigger discussion and more in-depth studies of the inevitably reduce that which is available to other ways of securing commercialised university. We used the Freedom of Information and building peace, including the understanding of the conditions Act and individual interviews together with questionnaires, necessary for non-violent conflict resolution. We have discussed publicly available sources of information and approaches to the the range of alternatives to this situation in more detail in our military corporations themselves to build up a picture of any previous reports (Langley 2005; Langley et al 2007), but in a effects. We investigated a sample of 16 UK universities, some of which were selected for their high levels of military involvement(such as Cambridge, Imperial College, London and Oxford), 1. The approaches to security problems favoured by successive others because we lacked detailed information about their levels UK governments and the military industries are too focused of military support (these included Bournemouth, Newcastle and on the use of military force (with a strong reliance on cutting- Exeter). This work complemented another project carried out edge technology) rather than giving due priority to the use of during a similar period (Street & Beale, 2007). The main diplomacy, international arms control treaties, ‘bridge conclusions of the SGR report – entitled Behind Closed Doors – building', and technology transfer with those nations at risk are given below. Also included are some selected conclusions of conflict, especially those with unstable governments and from Street & Beale.
failing economies (see also Abbott et al 2006); 1. Military involvement (both commercial and government) in 2. As a number of commentators have pointed out, the lack of and funding of research, teaching and training at UK spending by successive UK governments in other areas – universities is far more pervasive than generally such as poverty alleviation and environmental protection – will, if not dealt with, contribute to major breakdowns insecurity (see also Abbott et al 2006; Stavrianakis 2006).
Financial data collected in the study indicates that officialfigures for research with military objectives carried out at It is important to recall that military R&D in both government universities underestimate the extent of military involvement laboratories and those of industry is supported by an considerably, possibly by as much as five times. In the infrastructure of non-military research and staff in the university sample of universities examined in Behind Closed Doors, the sector. Additionally it is often difficult to disentangle the actual average size of military funding received per university was contributions, in terms of both finance and expertise, made to £2 million per annum – a figure similar to that found by joint partnerships by the government and commercial military Street & Beale. This amount was five times that recorded in government statistics (Langley et al 2008). But, of course, The university-military partnerships tend to be tightly knit and not funding is only part of the influence exerted by the military open to scrutiny. This can result in the formation of a specific kind within academia and in shaping the career choices of of security stance which, as we have discussed, concentrates on high technology and emphasises ‘force projection', hindering a Data assembled from our own studies (Langley 2005; shift to a more broadly defined approach to security (Langley Langley et al 2007; Langley et al 2008) and that assembled 2005). The overall effect is exacerbated by the closure and by Street & Beale indicate that a very high proportion of the amalgamation of university physical science departments.
universities in the UK (which number more than 100) receive Importantly this nexus also helps stimulate technological arms military funding. For example, 42 out of 43 UK universities races, which are further enhanced by the EU security research investigated in these four studies have been found to receive programme (Hayes 2006). funding to pursue military objectives (data on the remaining What impact does this pervasive involvement of the military university being inconclusive). Street & Beale report that in corporations have on SET and the universities? As we mentioned the period 2001 to 2006 more than 1,900 military R&D 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 46 Science and the corporate agenda projects were undertaken in the 26 sample universities worth Summary of the detrimental effects of
an estimated £725 million.
military/defence commercial influence on SET
High prestige universities and departments of engineeringand physical sciences receive significant sums for Influence on the direction of the research agenda
undertaking military R&D. The less research-intensive 1. Strong support is created for a high technology, departments and universities (including those with an weapons-based approach to security, which avowed ‘business-facing' stance) tend to attract funds for marginalises consideration of alternative approaches; specific training and teaching of value to the military sectorrather than for R&D. These funding effects may well limit the 2. Public funding of military R&D is large compared with availability of skilled staff for work in alternative civilian areas, several important civilian sectors, such as health andenvironment. Much of the military R&D is used to fund because it is likely that lucrative contracts from the highly work within industry, which is forging increasing links profitable military sector will have appeal to departments and with universities. This reduces the scientific and research groups with tight budgets. Close involvement with technological resources available for tackling urgent military industry can also build a high technology view of how non-military problems in areas such as poverty to pursue security, which marginalises other ways of framing alleviation and environment protection; 3. Corporate involvement imports a business ethos to the 2. Universities present themselves as open, accountable research environment which can hamper alternative, institutions yet, when challenged through Freedom of non-commercial ways of understanding security issues; Information Act approaches were seriously deficient inseveral respects including: 4. The presence of military corporations either as funders or consumers of expertise (in training or teaching) on Detailed, comprehensive data on military involvement in campus is associated with a sense of prestige in the universities was very difficult to obtain due to a combination mind of researchers and policy-makers. This encourages of incomplete record keeping, commercial restrictions, pursuit of further funding of this nature.
pressures on researchers and, most disturbingly, Influence on the direction and results of specific
evasiveness on the part of officials.
research studies (both intentional and
Senior university staff, corporations and researchers were reluctant to discuss details of their activities related to 1. Consortia involving military corporate and/or government military-universities partnerships, despite these institutions partners reduce the non-military work individual receiving significant public funding or co-funding. researchers can undertake (see above); It has become clear during the course of our studies over the 2. Some limited evidence that less peer-reviewed past five years that there is considerable disquiet among publications result from military support.
non-military funded staff in UK universities about growingmilitary involvement. One main concern is about the power of Influence on the openness of research studies
vested interests – especially large corporations – in 1. The R&D funded by the military sector – government and influencing the research agenda and making it more corporate – in the universities tends to be undertaken in ‘conformist', and compromising the autonomy of a less transparent way than non-military funded work.
researchers. These concerns have been echoed throughout Secrecy and evasiveness can prevent a more open this report. Some of those to whom we have spoken have discussion of the research.
pointed out how high technology, weapons-based Influence on the public interpretation of research results
approaches to dealing with issues including security threatsor other global problems are given undue priority over, for 1. In public fora, military corporations strongly promote a example, political, diplomatic or other non-technological high technology, weapons-based approach to dealing approaches. Funding and other pressures mean that these with security problems, including the R&D to support that staff members often do not feel able to express their concerns openly.
2. The military corporations use their own lobbyists, as well 3. There was some limited evidence that the quality of research as those which represent military and aerospace industry publications – as indicated by the number of peer-reviewed as a whole, to shape both the security agenda and the papers – arising from military funding may not be as high as related priorities for R&D (both public and private).
that originating from non-military funded researchers.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 47 The military/defence sector References and further reading
Kearns I & Gude K (2008). The new front line: Security in achanging world. IPPR Commission on National Security Working (web links accessed June 2009) Paper No: 1. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.
AAAS (2008). September R&D Funding Update. American Langley C (2005). Soldiers in the laboratory: military Association for the Advancement of Science.
involvement in science & technology – and some alternatives.
Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility.
Abbott C, Rogers P & Sloboda J (2006). Global responses to global threats: Sustainable security for the 21st century.
Langley C, Parkinson S & Webber P (2007). More soldiers in Briefing Paper (June). Oxford: Oxford Research Group.
the laboratory: the militarisation of science & technology – an update. Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility.
BERR (2008). The 2008 R&D Scoreboard. London: HMSO & Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform.
Langley C (2008). Universities, the military, and the means of Cabinet Office (2008). The National Security Strategy of the destruction in the United Kingdom. The Economics of Peace and United Kingdom: Security in an interdependent world. London: Security Journal, Volume 3: 49-55.
The Stationery Office.
Cantor G N, Christie J R R, Hodge M J S & Olby R C (1990).
Langley C, Parkinson S & Webber P (2008). Behind closed Companion to the history of modern science. Routledge, doors: Military influence, commercial pressures & the compromised university. Folkestone, UK: Scientists for GlobalResponsibility.
Cook N (2007). Capability culture. Jane's Defence Weekly 31 January: pp. 22-29.
MoD (2006). Defence Technology Strategy. London: The CPP (2007). Conflict Prevention Pools.
Stationery Office and Ministry of Defence.
OECD (2007). Main science and technology indicators 2007.
Tables 59, 60 & 62b. OECD, Paris.
OpenDemocracy (2009). Greater UAVs diversity.
DFID (2009). Resource Accounts 2008-09.
Rappert B & McLeish C (2007). A web of prevention: Biologicalweapons, life sciences & the governance of research. London: DIUS (2008). SET statistics: science, engineering and technology indicators. Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, London.
Sharkey N (2007). Robot wars are a reality. The Guardian 18 Edgerton D (2006). Warfare State - Britain, 1920-1970.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
SIPRI (2009a). The Stockholm International Peace Research Elworthy S & Rifkind G (2005). Hearts & minds: Human security Yearbook 2009. SIPRI & Oxford University Press, Stockholm.
approaches to political violence. London: Demos.
Hayes B (2006). Arming big brother: The EU's security research SIPRI (2009b). The SIPRI Top 100 arms-producing companies programme. Amsterdam: Transnational Institute & StateWatch.
2007. Appendix 6A of: SIPRI (2009a).
Hildyard N (1998). Scientific research for whom? The Stavrianakis A (2006). Call to arms: The university as a site of Cornerhouse, UK.
militarised capitalism & a site of struggle. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 35: 139-154.
IEA (2007). IEA online energy database. International Energy Street T & Beale M (2007). Study war no more: Military Agency, Paris.
involvement in UK universities. London: Campaign Against Arms James A D (Editor) (2006). Science and technology policies for Trade & Fellowship of Reconciliation.
the anti-terrorism era. NATO Science Series V: Science and Technology Policy – Volume 51. Amsterdam: IOS Press.
Washburn J (2005). University Inc. New York: Basic Books.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 48 Science and the corporate agenda 7. The oil and gas sector
The fact that the oil and gas industry provides over half of the current policies, grow by 45% by 2030 (IEA 2008b), there is a lot world's energy supply gives an indication of its power and reach of scope for these companies to remain powerful for many years throughout modern society. Indeed, the world's largest privately owned company – ExxonMobil – is an oil and gas corporation In 2008 the global oil and gas industry posted record revenues – (Financial Times 2009). with the top five privately-owned companies alone receiving a Unsurprisingly, the industry has a great deal of influence on staggering £975 billion ($1,800 billion) – see Table 7.1. Net scientific research and technological development, including profits for these five companies amounted to over £70 billion –this is equivalent to £8 million every hour. As with the direct funding of R&D – both in-house and within universities – pharmaceutical industry (see chapter 4), the oil and gas sector and involvement in education and lobbying activities. has also been marked by mergers and acquisitions, which means In this section, we focus specifically on the industry's heavy that a small number of corporations have acquired considerable involvement with public relations campaigns that have sought to economic power. ExxonMobil, the largest non-state owned oil and undermine public acceptance of the scientific evidence that gas corporation – and which owns Esso in the UK – generates humans are causing climate change. This includes adopting a considerably more profit than its competitors (see Table 7.1).
perspective known as ‘climate scepticism'. We then look at their The economic strength of the industry means that it can easily considerable influence in the field of energy R&D and access government officials and research expertise. Hence, as involvement in UK universities. We start with some background to this chapter will show, it has much influence in relevant policy the industry and a summary of the current scientific evidence for areas, including science and innovation policy. climate change.
Oil and gas companies invest large sums in R&D, mainly focusedon exploration for, and the extraction and production of, fossilfuels. However, in recent years they have begun to invest in other 7.1 Background to the oil and gas industry
energy technologies as well, including renewable energy sources Crude oil is human society's largest energy source, providing (especially liquid biofuels, wind and solar). We will discuss this 34% of the world's ‘primary' energy supply (IEA 2008a). It is also further in section 7.4.
the raw material for many commodities that are central to our Two issues are currently critical in the policy debates related to modern lifestyle. Corporations that extract oil are generally also science and technology in this sector: climate change and ‘peak heavily involved in the extraction of natural gas, because reserves oil'. As we discuss in more depth in the next section, climate of oil and gas are often co-located. With natural gas making up change is a key issue for the sector because oil and gas a further 21% of the world's energy supply (IEA 2008a), it is no combustion – for example, in cars, power stations, factories, surprise that oil corporations have become very powerful and aircraft and homes – is one of the main activities causing this influential. Given that global energy demand could, based on global environmental problem. Table 7.1 – The world's top five privately-owned oil and gas companies by revenues, 2008
Royal Dutch Shell Sources: Figures from ExxonMobil (2009), Royal Dutch Shell (2009a), BP (2009), Chevron (2009), Total (2009) – all converted to UK pounds.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 49 Part II – Case Studies ‘Peak oil' is defined as the point at which global extraction of oil scientist James Hansen warned of the threat in testimony to US reaches a maximum and then begins to fall. The major concern congressional hearings. Subsequent policy discussions led to the is that the peak may be reached soon and that this will lead to a formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rapid rise in oil prices leading to serious global economic (IPCC – see box 7.1) in 1988 whose aims are to summarise the problems. There is much disagreement over when the peak latest scientific evidence on the scale of the problem and to might be reached. Some – such as the Association for the Study present options for dealing with it. of Peak Oil (ASPO) and the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and The IPCC has published numerous reports on various aspects of Energy Security – argue that it will be in the next few years (ASPO the problem in the years since, including extensive ‘assessment' 2008; ITPOES 2008). Meanwhile some senior figures in the oil reports every five or six years, the latest of which came out in industry argue that it is several decades off. The International 2007 (see box 7.1). The process for compiling these reports is Energy Agency (IEA) – which advises governments and industry lengthy and involves a wide range of expertise to ensure their on energy policy – recently stated that it expects ‘conventional' findings are supported by extensive data and hence robust. For oil production to level off before 2030, with further growth example, the 2007 IPCC assessment report took three years to coming from ‘unconventional' resources which are much more research and prepare. It was written by over 1250 scientists with costly and energy intensive to exploit (IEA 2008b). It calls for another 2500 experts taking part in a two-stage review process major global investment in new energy infrastructure and (IPCC 2007b). Four ‘summaries for policy-makers' were technologies over the next two decades to prevent serious prepared, each one having to be approved line-by-line by the economic problems due to this ‘plateau' in conventional oilproduction. However, if the more pessimistic predictions of ASPO scientific representatives of the over 100 member nations of the and others are right, serious economic problems will occur much Some climate scientists have argued that such a painstakingprocess results in reports that are too cautious (Leggett 2000;Pearce 2007). They point in particular to the problem of seeking 7.2 Climate change: the accumulation of
Box 7.1 - Intergovernmental Panel
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human societyand natural ecosystems over the coming decades and beyond. In on Climate Change (IPCC)
November 2007, in a New York Times article on the issue, the UNSecretary General stated that "we are on the verge of a The IPCC was established in 1988 by the United Nations catastrophe if we do not act" (Moon 2007).
Environmental Programme and the World MeteorologicalOrganisation. It is the leading international advisory body on Human activities are releasing billions of tonnes of ‘greenhouse climate change, its aim being to "provide decision-makers gases' into the atmosphere. The main greenhouse gas emitted and others… with an objective source of information… by humans is carbon dioxide and the dominant source of carbon relevant to the risk of human-induced climate change, its dioxide emissions is the combustion of fossil fuels, including oil observed and projected impacts, and options for adaptation and gas. Once in the atmosphere, these gases act to trap extra and mitigation" (IPCC 2009). The IPCC itself does not heat from the sun and so cause a global temperature rise, known conduct research nor does it monitor climate change data, its as ‘global warming'. Climate scientists warn that this is leading role being to summarise existing data from reliable sources to changes in the global climate system, which are very likely to such as peer-reviewed academic journals and elsewhere.
have major negative impacts on human society and naturalecosystems. Projected impacts include increasingly extreme The IPCC's work is dealt with by four main groups. These weather events (including droughts, storms and floods) which will groups are: Working Group I, which examines the physical jeopardise the availability (both locally and globally) of fresh basis of climate change; Working Group II on climate change water, food and other resources essential to human society. If impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; Working Group III on global emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise climate change mitigation; and a Task Force to assist in unchecked, hundreds of millions of people will be adversely compiling national greenhouse gas inventories.
affected over the next few decades, with the numbers increasing The assessment reports, produced by the IPCC every five thereafter (IPCC 2007a).
years or so, all include a volume by each of the three Working Evidence that the global climate is changing and that humans are Groups – to report on the state of the scientific evidence on a key driver of this change has been rapidly accumulating over climate change. Four such reports have so far been the past two decades. The climate change problem first gained published: in 1990; 1995; 2001; and 2007.
widespread public attention in the late 1980s when senior NASA 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 50 Science and the corporate agenda approval from representatives of nations which are politically have pointed out that a large fraction of the existing reserves of opposed to significant action to reduce greenhouse gas fossil fuels will probably need to stay in the ground if this target emissions (some with close links to the oil industry, as we will is to be met (Allen et al 2009). Given the difficulties of rapidly discuss below) – even though such representatives are expanding the use of alternative energy sources, curbing energy ostensibly only allowed to make changes based on scientific demand will also be necessary to achieve the scale of reductions needed (see, for example, Bows et al 2006). Nevertheless, the findings presented in the IPCC assessments At this point, it is worth highlighting the contribution that reports have, over the years, become increasingly pronounced individual oil and gas companies themselves make to climate regarding the issue of whether human activities are directly change. The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has causing climate change and the scale of the impacts that this calculated the contribution made by ExxonMobil, the largest. If climate change will have on human society. The first assessment one adds the greenhouse gas emissions from the company report, published in 1990, stated that it is "certain" that operations to the emissions resulting from the end use greenhouse gas emissions will result in "warming of the Earth's combustion of all the fossil fuel products it sells, then its total surface" and highlighted a range of potential global impacts over emissions would exceed one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. IfExxonMobil were a country, it would rank as the sixth highest the coming century should action not be taken to reduce them carbon-emitter in the world (UCS 2007).
(IPCC, 1990). Five years later, the second assessment reportwent further, stating that the observations now suggested that We discuss two areas where the oil and gas industry has there was already "a discernible human influence on global influenced science and technology to hold back more widespread climate" (IPCC 1995). The 2001 report spoke of "new and consideration of climate change: public perception and the stronger evidence" of this human influence (IPCC 2001), while research agenda. The major oil corporations – in concert with the fourth assessment report in 2007 ended any lingering doubts other interests such as the coal and automobile industries – have by stating, "Most of the observed increase in global average been at the forefront of promoting ‘climate scepticism', arguing temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the mainly that climate change is either not caused by human observed increase in anthropogenic [human-induced] activities or will not be a major problem. The industry also has greenhouse gas concentrations" (IPCC 2007a). The assessment significant influence on academic research and teaching in the reports have also pointed to increasing certainty about the global energy field, which can lead to R&D for areas such as energy scale of the impacts and the urgency of action needed to avoid demand reduction and renewable energy not receiving the necessary level of funding. These two issues are tackled in thenext two sub-sections.
The IPCC findings have also received backing from scienceacademies across the world, including the UK's Royal Society(see for example: Royal Society et al 2005). The level of 7.3 The fossil fuel industry: promoting
agreement among climate scientists, both that climate change is happening and that humans are the main cause, is extremelyhigh. Donald Kennedy, editor of the authoritative journal Science, As we have shown, there has been robust evidence for two wrote after the publication of the 2001 IPCC assessment report, decades that climate change is a key global problem and human and after news of President Bush's decision to go back on his activities are a key cause. Throughout this period, industrial commitment to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions from lobbies – including parts of the oil and gas industry – have used power plants in the USA, "Consensus as strong as the one that their enormous power and influence to promote climate sceptic has developed around [global warming] is rare in science" views. The aim has been, and continues to be, to plant seeds of (Kennedy 2001). Kennedy added that on climate change there doubt in the minds of the public and policy-makers about the was little room for any "doubt about the seriousness of the scientific basis for efforts to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. problem" (Kennedy 2001).
Many of the activities pursued by businesses in this area have The latest IPCC assessment report has also given the clearest similarities to those described earlier for other industrial sectors.
indication yet of the scale of action needed to reduce greenhouse Indeed, there is clear evidence that the oil and gas industry used gas emissions. It highlighted that to keep global temperature some tactics first employed by the tobacco industry (Monbiot change to about 2˚C above pre-industrial levels – a limit recently 2006; UCS 2007). For instance, as we document below, there endorsed by the world's major economies (BBC news 2009) – has been wide use of public relations companies and lobby global emissions need to peak in the next few years and fall by groups (who often do not reveal details of their funding). These 50 to 80% by 2050 (IPCC 2007a). To achieve this, considerable organisations employ sympathetic scientists, including those reductions in the use of fossil fuels are needed – something not without a background in climate science, to promote the idea that yet accepted by the oil and gas sector. Indeed, climate scientists the scientific evidence for climate change is not robust. There 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 51 The oil and gas sector have also been notable attempts to influence processes within continue to support climate sceptic activities in other ways. Most climate research itself, especially when such research may be critically, it made significant contributions to George W Bush's directly used by policy-makers (such as IPCC reports) (Leggett campaigns for presidency and one outcome of this – once Bush 2000; UCS 2007). was in office – was the withdrawal of the US from the KyotoProtocol (the treaty agreed in 1997 to curb international One key tactic used by climate sceptics is to dwell upon any area greenhouse gas emissions). Another disturbing facet of the Bush of uncertainty in the science underpinning the understanding and administration was its willingness to interfere in the scientific description of global climate change. But uncertainty is inherent process, including having political appointees (some of whom throughout science; the climate sceptics fail (or choose not) to had links to the oil industry) edit scientific reports on climate acknowledge the context of the climate science uncertainties and change and a range of other issues to make them more thereby distort their significance. favourable to the administration's position (US House of Given the accumulating wealth of evidence for human-influenced Representatives 2003; UCS 2007; EDF 2008). Such a situation climate change and the extensive attempts to include scientists helped the climate sceptic lobby considerably.
from across the relevant research areas through the IPCC ExxonMobil has also funded numerous other lobby groups, ‘think processes (see previous section), it is hard to find an area of tanks' and individuals who misrepresent the scientific basis of policy-relevant science which follows a more robust model (UCS climate change. UCS published a wide-ranging report 2007). Furthermore, climate scientists, in general, are publicly documenting the company's main climate sceptic activities over funded via research councils and scientific foundations and so the period from 1998 to 2005 (UCS 2007; Hamilton 2007). This are less likely to be influenced by powerful external interests presents an extensive outline of ExxonMobil's "disinformation" such as business. This is in direct contrast to many climatesceptics – despite their repeated claims to be acting in the tactics, which entailed the company funnelling almost $16 million interests of ‘sound science'.
(£8 million) into a network of 43 advocacy groups. Some areinfluential and well known, such as the American Enterprise In some cases the information presented by climate sceptics is Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heartland Foundation (which also simply inaccurate. This was demonstrated starkly by the British receives money from the tobacco industry), the Heritage TV programme, The Great Global Warming Swindle broadcast on Foundation, and the George C Marshall Institute. These Channel 4 in 2007. The programme featured some of the organisations take a strongly sceptical view of climate science, industry-funded scientists mentioned later in this chapter, and and share political worldviews which are neoliberal and free- made inaccurate statements about a wide range of issues, market based. They underplay the amount of agreement within including the influence on climate of solar activity and volcanoes.
expert climate science circles and maintain, with little evidence, It was widely criticised by climate scientists for its inaccuracies that scientists do not agree on the role of carbon emissions and (see, for example: RealClimate 2007; MediaLens 2007).
the nature of climate change (UCS 2007; EDF 2008). The early activities of corporate-funded climate scepticism were The report also shows the reach of individual ExxonMobil-funded led by an organisation called the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), voices who move from one advocacy group to another carrying a group comprising fossil fuel businesses, automobile companies their bogus message. Many, such as Patrick J Michaels, and their allies, all opposed to action to curb greenhouse gas Frederick Seitz and S Fred Singer, are widely reported in the emissions (Beder 1999; Leggett 2000; UCS 2007). Membership media, often without any mainstream climate scientist being of the coalition included all of the large, privately-owned oil and provided to balance their contrarian views (Monbiot 2006).
gas companies, including Exxon, BP and Shell. The GCC was set Greenpeace USA argues that the influence of ExxonMobil extends up in 1989 with one of its main activities being to question the even further than this (Greenpeace USA 2009). Using data from reports issued by the IPCC. It was active in trying to water down the company, they have identified a total of more than 140 the text of the 1990 assessment report, and it was at the centre organisations that have extolled climate sceptic views and that of allegations that the IPCC had distorted the scientific evidence have had links with the corporation. Many of these groups have presented in its 1995 report (Leggett 2000). However, following been widely quoted in the media in the UK and USA.
broad acceptance that the IPCC procedures had been robust, thespotlight moved to the fossil fuel lobby groups and the GCC There are also cases when the oil and gas industry has funded started to lose support. BP withdrew in 1997 with Shell following climate research that has emphasised uncertainties (see, for in 1998. Both companies began to take action to control their example, Goodess 2003).
operational emissions of greenhouse gases and invest in Because some policy-makers and sections of the media have renewable energy. The Coalition was finally ‘deactivated' in continued to take seriously the accusations of the climate sceptic lobby, detailed academic investigation has been carried out to However, Exxon – now ExxonMobil following a merger – chose to examine whether the level of scientific consensus on the human 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 52 Science and the corporate agenda causes of climate change claimed by the IPCC and others really Durward, Director of the British Aggregates Association and Mark was solid. Naomi Oreskes, a distinguished historian of science at Adams of the PR company Foresight Communications Stanford University in the USA, analysed 928 abstracts of papers (Lobbywatch 2008). The Scientific Alliance is linked to US climate published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and sceptic groups, and also embraces a range of anti-environmental 2003, using the keywords ‘global climate change' (Oreskes views. However, it does not disclose its current funders. It led the 2004, 2005). The analysis found that 75% of the examined recent legal action against the showing of Al Gore's film An abstracts either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus inconvenient truth in schools (Scientific Alliance 2007).
view, while none directly dissented from it. In 2007, Oreskes The International Policy Network (IPN), also based in the UK, expanded her analysis, resulting in a book. Her findings included styles itself as a think tank and like the Scientific Alliance is very that around 20% of abstracts explicitly endorsed the consensus coy about who its funders are. Nevertheless, independent on climate change, that is: "Earth's climate is being affected by sources show that the IPN has received grants from ExxonMobil, human activities". In addition, 55% of abstracts "implicitly" and other oil companies (UCS 2007; EDF 2008). It is linked to the endorsed the consensus by engaging in research to characterise Institute of Economic Affairs (IPN's Executive Director had the ongoing and/or future impact of climate change or to mitigate previously been employed there), Britain's leading free-market against predicted changes. The remaining 25% focused on either think-tank (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2009). The IPN also has paleoclimate or developing measurement techniques. This is a links with the US Competitive Enterprise Institute, which had until far cry from the picture of scientific uncertainty that the sceptics recently been funded by ExxonMobil (see above). Other IPN staff point to when promoting the corporate-based view (Oreskes members have formerly been at rightwing think tanks (SpinProfiles 2009). In 2004 IPN released a report claiming that In the last couple of years, ExxonMobil has softened its stance on climate change was "a myth". All the climate sceptic think tanks climate change, notably withdrawing funding from the climate strongly deny that their research findings are influenced by their sceptic Competitive Enterprise Institute (Greenpeace USA 2009).
corporate donors, claiming to be non-partisan and only interested This may have partly been in response to a 2006 letter from the in scientific ‘truth' (SpinProfiles 2009). Royal Society in which the oil company's support of such lobbygroups was subjected to strong censure (Royal Society 2006).
However, it is clear that ExxonMobil has continued to support 7.4 Energy R&D, the oil and gas industry
sceptic organisations, one such being the American Enterprise and UK universities
Institute (AEI). Following the publication of the 2007 IPCC Curbing energy demand and expanding ‘low carbon' energy assessment report, the AEI offered scientists and economists technologies are essential elements in tackling the problems of $10,000 each to "undermine" the report's findings (Sample climate change and peak oil. Timely R&D is critical, both in 2007). The funds from the AEI were to persuade those helping to speed technological development in this area and in approached to attack the IPCC panel as being "resistant to contributing to the design of policy measures to control energy reasonable criticism and dissent and prone to summary use. The power and influence of the oil and gas industry mean conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work".
that their policies and activities have a major influence on the The AEI has received over $1.6 million (£0.8 million) from direction of energy-related R&D and the degree to which society ExxonMobil. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil was, at is successful in tackling these problems.
the time of writing, on the Institute's Board of Trustees.
Energy R&D has had a chequered history in the UK. In the late While most corporate-funded climate sceptic organisations have 1970s and early 1980s, government funding for energy R&D was been US-based, there has been significant activity in the UK.
high, reaching a peak in 1981 of over £700 million (2007 values) Indeed, in the letter to ExxonMobil mentioned above, the Royal (IEA 2007). Over the next 20 years it fell 95% following the Society also sought to obtain information from the company on privatisation of the energy industry and their associated research the extent of their funding of climate sceptic groups in the UK.
laboratories. While the intention of the government of the day The response, from Kenneth Cohen, Vice President of Public seemed to be that industry would expand its R&D to compensate, Affairs in the USA, provided a great deal of information on one of the available data suggest this did not happen (RCEP 2000). And, the university-based funding programmes undertaken (at despite the urgent threat of climate change, the government has Stanford University in the USA) and the attempts of the business been very slow to reverse this decline. The available figures to reduce its carbon footprint but said nothing of its UK climate suggest its funding for energy R&D only began to rise in 2004 sceptic funding (Royal Society 2006). and still remains at a small fraction of that of the early 1980s.
Nevertheless, some information is available on prominent climate Across the industrialised world, the situation has been more sceptic organisations in the UK and their corporate connections.
positive, but government funding for energy R&D is still For instance, the Scientific Alliance was set up by Robert significantly lower than in the early 1980s. For example, 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 53 The oil and gas sector spending by the member nations of the International Energy this small proportion of funding by arguing that (for example) the Agency was £6 billion in 2007 – only 60% of its peak value (IEA renewable energy industry is still developing and hence their investment makes a key difference, but given the urgency of thethreat of climate change and the record profits that the industry So what of the role of the oil and gas industry? Reliable sector has experienced in recent years, there is a strong case for the level data on business-funded R&D is difficult to obtain in virtually major companies to dedicate far more of their in-house activities all industrial sectors, and the oil and gas sector is no exception.
However there are a number of observations that can be made,especially concerning the behaviour of individual companies. How do these factors influence research at UK universities? Again there has been little systematic examination but the According to their annual reports, oil and gas companies ingeneral focus their investment, including R&D, on supporting available evidence does give cause for concern. A 2003 report their core businesses of fossil fuel exploration, extraction and co-published by the New Economics Foundation found that there processing. However, those that dropped their climate sceptic were around 1,000 R&D projects being undertaken in UK position in the late 1990s, such as BP and Shell, have been universities concerned with petroleum objectives, estimated at a willing to invest significant amounts in renewable energy (such as total value of £67 million per year (Muttitt 2003). Most of the wind, solar and biofuels) and improving the efficiency of their projects were concerned with exploration and the engineering activities, whereas others, such as ExxonMobil, have shown infrastructure for extraction, with only 2% of the funding being much less interest until the last few years. directed towards studying environmental impacts. The report documented a range of connections between the oil and gas Nevertheless, even Shell and BP's worldwide spending on industry and academic departments, including: industry-funded renewable energy and other alternatives technologies continues research centres; joint research projects; staff positions funded to be only a small proportion of their annual capital expenditure, partly or wholly by industry; industry-sponsored courses, as shown starkly in Table 7.2. Despite a series of public relations studentships and other education grants; and careers and campaigns promoting their ‘green' credentials, their investment recruitment activities. The industry focuses its activities on in alternatives is only a few percent of their total budgets. (Neithercompany publishes figures in its annual report for the percentage relevant academic disciplines including geology, engineering of R&D funding allocated to renewable energy.) Sadly, even the (especially chemical), and those dealing with safety. This makes figures in Table 7.2 paint a rosy picture. Shell has since it difficult to find university departments in these areas which do announced it is to disinvest from all renewable energy except not have connections with the industry. Yet, despite this heavy liquid biofuels (which is the most controversial) (Webb 2009).
involvement, over 50% of the projects identified by the report Meanwhile, BP is set to reduce its budget for alternative energy were paid for by public funds, with a further 23% being part- by about half in 2009 (Macalister 2009). The companies defend funded by the taxpayer. Table 7.2 – Comparison of spending on alternative energy sources and R&D for the three major privately-
owned oil and gas companies, 2008
Total spending on
Royal Dutch Shell * For Shell, ‘alternatives' includes renewables and carbon capture and storage (CCS). For BP, ‘alternatives' includes wind, solar, biofuels, CCS, hydrogen and efficient gas power. ExxonMobil funds a small number of projects in areas such as biofuels and batteries for electric cars, but published no figures on total amounts spent in its annual report. However, comparing the scale of their reported activities with other companies indicates their total activity in these areas is lower.
Annual average for last five years.
Sources: Figures from Royal Dutch Shell (2009a, 2009b), ExxonMobil (2009), BP (2009) – converted to UK pounds.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 54 Science and the corporate agenda A number of universities – for example, Aberdeen, Cambridge, change. While some oil companies have been more progressive Heriot-Watt and Imperial College London – have received in supporting R&D on renewable energy, their efforts have been considerable funding from the fossil fuel industry to concentrate much smaller than is justified by the environmental problems we their expertise into dedicated research centres (Muttitt 2003). A face, and their unwillingness to support controls on energy large majority of these concentrate upon oil and gas demand is also highly counterproductive.
technologies, exploration geology and petroleum production.
Companies also make use of such focal points of expertise to Summary of the detrimental effects of oil and
provide training for business needs (as at Imperial College gas industry influence on SET
With the recent increase of funding for renewable energy R&D, a Influence on the direction of the research agenda
number of UK universities have expanded their research and 1. A large majority of the R&D funding from the oil and gas education activities in this area. However, there are no clear sector has been for the technology related to exploration, figures available that provide a comparison of the level of funding extraction and processing of fossil fuels; for oil and gas R&D with that for renewable energy R&D. Indeed,as we have discussed elsewhere, direct financial involvement is 2. In the last decade, some oil and gas companies have put only part of the influence that industry can have within academia.
significant funds into R&D for alternatives technologies, Given the power and influence of the major fossil fuel companies including renewables. However, some companies – and the relatively small size of the renewable energy sector, it is notably ExxonMobil – have been much less willing to reasonable to continue to question whether the research and fund work in these areas while, overall, the level of the teaching in relevant university departments will give sufficient funding for alternatives has been much lower than the weight to efforts to move away from fossil fuels. industry could afford; Data on the level of R&D supporting efforts to curb energy 3. The oil and gas industry does not encourage a viewpoint demand is even more difficult to find. There are research that supports curbs on global energy demand, which is a programmes on improving energy efficiency – some carried out key option for tackling climate change, peak oil etc; by the oil and gas sector itself – but these often take place within 4. The major oil and gas companies have numerous links an overall view that energy demand will continue to expand.
with UK university departments, especially in engineering Given that the sales of fossil fuels by the oil and gas industry and geology. This allows them a great deal of influence continue to increase, it seems there will be little support from that within academic circles, and especially with young particular interest group.
engineers and scientists.
One further issue is also worth noting: that of the oil and gas Influence on the direction and results of specific
industry's broader involvement with science education. For research studies (both intentional and
instance, the industry (like many other sectors including the military) actively works with schools and contributes to activities 1. Oil and gas interests have funded research which set within the science curriculum. Examples include the ‘Shell emphasises uncertainty in climate change research; Education Service' which operates in the UK and in continentalEurope (Royal Dutch Shell 2009c). Similarly, the London Business 2. Corporate science funded by the oil and gas industries School provides the opportunity for all graduates to attend the does not sufficiently emphasise the urgency of ExxonMobil Graduate Development Programme, run by the developing technology and policy options for tackling London Business School. The modular programme is designed to climate change.
cover three main areas – interpersonal skills, business Influence on the public interpretation of research results
awareness and people management (LBS 2009) – and providesopportunities for graduates to join ExxonMobil. The company also 1. The oil and gas industry – especially ExxonMobil – has has a scheme run jointly with the Royal Academy of Engineering been heavily involved in funding climate sceptics to for young academics to hold ExxonMobil Engineering Teaching publicly undermine the scientific evidence that climate Fellowships (RAE 2009). A similar array of industry-funded change is caused by human activities; partnerships with the university sector is to be found in the USA.
2. Corporate influence on government from the oil industry, All increase the influence of the oil and gas industry, and its especially in the USA, has undermined the robust worldview, among young people.
application of scientific knowledge in policy; In conclusion, the oil and gas industry is the most influential in 3. Oil and gas companies fund a variety of initiatives in science the world. It has a major influence on science and technology, but education in UK schools, which encourage students to be some of its influence has been highly detrimental – notably, sympathetic to the perspective of the industry.
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Royal Dutch Shell (2009a). Annual Review and SummaryFinancial Statements 2008.
Royal Dutch Shell (2009b). Sustainability Report 2008.
Royal Dutch Shell (2009c). Shell Education Service.
hell_in_the_society/social_investment/shell_education_service/about_us/about/ses/about_ses.html. Royal Society et al (2005). Joint science academies' statement:Global response to climate change.
Royal Society (2006). Royal Society and ExxonMobil.
Sample I (2007). Scientists offered cash to dispute climatestudy. The Guardian, 2 February.
news.climatechange 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 57 Part II – Case Studies 8. The biotechnology sector
Biotechnology is perhaps the most obvious example of a pointed out that it intends to waive fees for use of the Myriad scientific field that is increasingly shaped by ‘industry-led needs' patents for NHS patients (Eaton 2000).
with a research agenda tied to deriving the greatest return on Myriad faced growing opposition to its breast cancer gene investment. Many of the ethical and practical issues we raise patents from patients, genetics societies and researchers. A below stem directly from the ‘commodification' of naturally lawsuit brought by cancer patients, clinicians, activists and occurring entities – like genes, their products and processes – researchers is at the time of writing being pursued which closely tied to economic end-points that are usually short-term.
challenges the validity of patenting the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes This section starts with a brief introduction to biotechnology and (Anon 2009). The complaint against the patents on the BRCA the issue of gene patenting. It then highlights the wide range of genes cites examples of the company impeding research, ethical controversies that abound in this sector. The growth of restricting clinical practice and denying people access to medical commercial involvement is then discussed, followed by details of information (Marshall 2009). Although there are complex the problems that have arisen due to this growth. Biotechnology conditions attendant on the patented tests for breast cancer is an immense and constantly evolving field, so our description susceptibility, such uses of patents will involve added costs to must necessarily be an overview. healthcare systems or the patient. These costs would not followif there were no patents in place on these or other clinicallyimportant genes (Cook-Deegan et al 2009, which also discusses 8.1 Biotechnology and gene patenting
the broader issue of patents and diagnostic costs). We discuss Biotechnology covers a bewildering array of methods, topics and other examples later. research specialities; essentially it integrates the experimental There are aspects of gene patenting which make it especially techniques and models from biology with a range of methods controversial when compared with other forms of patenting.
from the physical sciences and engineering. The predominant Critics argue that genes are not ‘inventions', but naturally focus of biotechnology is on the gene, its products, various occurring entities. Hence they should not be amenable to private interactions and their manipulation.
ownership through patenting. Two main arguments, however, areused by advocates to justify gene patenting. The first is that the The gene – a discrete section of DNA - has become a primary discovery and isolation of genes that appear to code for specific commodity. It is treated as private property (especially as a desired traits require research expertise, investment and skills.
patentable entity), which represents the means to increase profits These research skills also involve the detailed searching of large and the range of products that companies can market (Gilbert et areas of DNA in order to locate genes of interest. The second al 2005; Kesselheim & Avorn 2005; Bainham et al 2002; Tokar justification sees the isolated gene as a novel product – an 2001). Genes and their manipulation have thus given ‘invention' - derived from human agency, and hence patentable.
corporations and spin-out companies both power and influence.
The gene patent argument revolves around the sequence of DNA The ability to produce genetically modified (GM) plants and (the gene of interest) being a modified version (a so-called copy- animals has not only meant that such entities can be bought and DNA or c-DNA) of the natural sequence with various features sold – for example as ‘disease models', crops and seeds – but having been changed by the extraction process (Krimsky 2003). that cells and tissues with GM genes must be licensed for use(for example, in medical tests), which brings profit to the owner In 2002 the Nuffield Council on Bioethics (an expert, independent of the GM patent whilst correspondingly increasing the costs of body set up by the Nuffield Foundation) published The ethics of some medical procedures. Patent protection also has a major patenting DNA (Nuffield Council on Bioethics 2002). The report, impact upon innovation in the USA and UK (Kesselheim & Avorn whilst not ruling out the patenting of genes, does argue that the tests which are applied to secure a patent on a particular geneshould be far more robust than they are at present, and the One example here is that of Myriad Genetics Inc., which has nine report's authors question whether allowing patents on genes US patents on the breast/ovarian genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. In really is in the public interest.
addition the company has patents on the associated BRCAantibodies. Any use of the BRCA1 and 2 gene sequences in The biotechnology sector is characterised by diversity; principle requires payment to Myriad Genetics (which passed to biotechnology research is undertaken in a wide variety of the University of Utah in November 2004). In the UK Myriad industries (Smith et al 2008). The field also increasingly involves licensed the BRCA tests to Rosgen – a commercial offshoot of the transfer of technology from universities to the business sector the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh - in February 2000. Rosgen has through spin-out companies and the use of intellectual property 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 58 Science and the corporate agenda rights (IPR). This phenomenon, also found in other university- The second area of concern is the creation of animal models of corporate interactions, is seen as an essential business tool, human disease by the use of GM technology. Here surrogates of which we discuss elsewhere in this report. Commonly, alliances human disease are created in other species in order to test are formed between new and more established companies on possible treatments on them and to identify regions of the human the basis of the trading of IPR, such as gene patents. Gary Pisano gene sequence involved in the diseases (BUAV 2003). GM at the Harvard Business School has pointed out that there has animals are used as models of human disease despite a number been a mismatch between the objectives and requirements of of concerns including species differences, the poor predictability academic scientific research and those of the biotechnology of such models in many cases, and a variety of ethical objections business (Pisano 2006). We will focus now on major ethical about the use of animals in research of this nature. In addition, controversies and the role of the gene.
this approach can shift the focus from tackling the many causesof illness, including lifestyle, economic factors and nutrition.
Similar criticism can also be made of the use of human gene 8.2 Major ethical controversies in
screening without paying sufficient attention to other factors – not least the reliability of the test. (We return to this latter issue This section examines a number of specific examples where the in section 8.4.2, where the UK Biobank is discussed.) techniques and tools of biotechnology are used within a heavily The commercialisation of the human genome is the third area of business-focused R&D effort, and briefly describes some of the concern. This has raised worries not only about commercial problems which occur as a result.
access to confidential aspects of people's medical records, but There are five major areas of biotechnology R&D which, in the also about the legitimacy of companies ‘owning' an individual's last 20 years, have been especially controversial: DNA and how this might impact on privacy and insurance liability. Agricultural biotechnology (including genetically-modified GM has also been used in a very contentious experimentalapproach to understanding and possibly treating various medical conditions: xenotransplantation, the fourth area of concern.
Animal models of human disease Xenotransplantation is designed to overcome the shortage of Commercialisation of the human genome human organs available for transplantation, and entails attemptsto ‘humanise' organs from non-human animals in order to provide replacement cells and tissues for transplant into a human Synthetic biology recipient. Work in xenotransplantation was initially held back dueto fears of pig viruses being inadvertently imported into the All these areas involve powerful techniques and have transplant host (Langley & D'Silva 1998). The field has seen a considerable corporate involvement, which has helped to shape revival, however, following the genetic manipulation of pigs to the research and development undertaken and created a number overcome such risks of infection. The early corporate players of ethical and practical problems. This section introduces the five included Imutran, owned by the pharmaceutical company areas; some of the key ethical problems are outlined later in Novartis. Now companies in the USA like Revivicor are producing section 8.4.
GM pigs to supply tissues and perhaps whole organs for The first area is agricultural biotechnology. In this area scientists transplant into humans (Coghlan 2008). Even if GM pig organs have altered genes in both plants and animals, mainly to improve are accepted in human patients, donors face not only the disease resistance and increase levels of nutrients (see Tokar suppression of their immune systems for life but also, potentially, 2004). While these aims may be desirable, this form of genetic the need to take other drugs to stop unwanted blood clotting and modification (GM) has raised a great deal of public opposition other symptoms of rejection.
due to concerns about possible negative effects on human health The momentum behind the creation of animal models and and the environment (see section 8.4), as well as about the xenotransplant organ ‘donors' owe a great deal to corporate increasingly widespread and monopolised corporate control of pressure, since undertaking and commercialising such research agriculture. These issues also raise significant concerns is of great potential interest to them if they hold the gene patents.
regarding food security, the food chain and the livelihood of poor In fact, the technique relies on simplified views of gene function farmers. A three-year, intergovernmental-supported expert study in health and disease (BUAV 2003). Focusing on this type of of agriculture, which included an analysis of GM technology, high-tech approach pushes funding for research that supports pointed out that current problems regarding food security have preventative health care to the margins. A further consideration more to do with shortcomings in distribution than in production, is whether the problems that xenotransplantation seeks to and hence argue for a change in the focus of R&D efforts to move address would be better tackled through changes to the donor away from a predominantly biotechnological one (IAASTD 2008). system for human organs (discussed in Anderson 2006).
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 59 The biotechnology sector Synthetic biology is the fifth area of research in biotechnology At the strategic level, UK governments have been keen to ensure which throws up a number of profound issues. It can be defined that institutions like public service research establishments as the design and construction of novel artificial biological (PSREs) and universities are given the kind of financial support systems, devices or pathways, or the redesign of already existing which helps them forge business R&D collaboration to secure natural biological systems. As such, it has been labelled the economic advantage, especially in new technology growth areas, science of ‘creating new life-forms'. Synthetic biology has such as biotechnology.
emerged from the coming together of knowledge and methods A variety of changes, occurring between the 1970s and 1990s from other disciplines like physiology, physics, nanotechnologies, and linked to economic globalisation, offer a key to genetic engineering and computer modelling (RSC 2008; NEST understanding how biotechnology corporations function, and help 2005). The blurred boundaries with other technologies and thepower of the synthetic approach create a number of ethical, to explain their market dominance and their role in shaping the practical and legal questions. Although synthetic biology is still a regulation of biotechnology (Kuszler 2006). relatively new discipline it is highly likely to involve an increasing During this period, major companies integrated with those in level of corporate interest in the UK, as is already the case in the other sectors – such as the chemical and pharmaceutical – and USA. Companies like BP, Shell, Chevron and DuPont are currently thus secured control of specific areas within biotechnology, such heavily investing in synthetic biology in the USA. Although as seeds, processing and marketing (Kuszler 2006; Newell presently the UK situation is less well developed than in the US, 2003). Recently there have been a frenzy of mergers between several UK Research Councils have begun a number of the large pharmaceutical companies and the smaller, specialist collaborative programmes to enhance the UK synthetic biology biotechnology firms – the Swiss giant Roche made a surprise research base. We return to this issue in section 8.4.
$44 billion bid for the 44 per cent of Genentech, the world'slargest biotechnology outfit by stock market value, that it doesnot already own. AstraZeneca bought MedImmune for $15.6 8.3 Growing corporate influence on
billion and Takeda of Japan paid $8.8 billion for Millennium (Anon 2008). This activity has an impact on both the power and In this and the following section, we focus on recent growth areas influence of the resulting companies, but just as importantly on in biotechnology which attract corporate interest and pose the innovation process and the production of valuable – but less particular problems, examining in more detail four issues of economic – molecules and techniques.
Such acquisitions together with monopoly patents and market Regardless of their point of view most commentators agree that dominance have given a small group of companies we now live in an ‘Age of Biotechnology'. The American magazine unprecedented control over commercial food, farming and health Business Week first coined the phrase "The Biotech Century" in areas and their associated R&D. This powerful position that 1997 (Casey 1997) and all the evidence supports this contention companies hold has implications not only for food security, the in the 21st Century. The power and reach of transnational economies of poorer nations and human healthcare, but also the corporations in the life sciences sector impacts not only on broad practice of sustainable agriculture (Shand 2001).
academic researchers, the universities and the biotechnology The acquisition programmes began with the ‘life science' research process, but also on the lives of everyone.
businesses buying up large seed companies, an example being Biotechnology and its various methods are developing at Monsanto's buy-up of Cargill's seeds in 1998. Biotechnology considerable speed, with corporate funders able to influence innovation requires that companies design suitable processing developments towards their own economic interests. The global and seed markets (pathways) to take full advantage of the R&D biotechnology market is considerable, the leading countries in which they have invested. The pathway is part of the sector's including the USA and UK with contributions from Japan, China business model and shapes the form of biotechnology that and Australia growing apace. As mentioned earlier (see chapter develops and the investments undertaken.
4), the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sectors were thelargest corporate investor in R&D both in the UK and globally in Dominant transnational companies like Monsanto, Dow and 2007 (based on data on the top companies - BERR 2008) and DuPont are characterised not only by their technological this trend looked set to continue until the current global economic integration within a given market but also, as we discuss later, by downturn. Healthcare and related services account for the target their simultaneous dominance of multiple markets within markets of over 75 per cent of all UK biotechnology companies, agriculture. For instance Cargill, the largest grain exporter in the and these businesses undertook almost 90 per cent of USA (and probably – according to available data – the world), is biotechnology R&D and received all of the external investment in also dominant in soybeans and cotton (see, for example, the UK biotechnology sector in 2006 (Critical I Limited 2006). Corporate Watch 2001). 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 60 Science and the corporate agenda As we pointed out above the biotechnology sector is both diverse solely upon the claimed benefits of GM for increasing crop and complex. It comprises large multinational companies with reliability and yield. The guide did not discuss any of the broader interests in agribusiness, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and other scientific, ethical, social or economic aspects of GM technology areas that involve R&D activities not solely related to gene and practice. Far more worryingly, whilst there were brief technologies (here use is sometimes made of subsidiary biographies of the authors in the guide, there was no mention companies). In addition, there are smaller companies, which are that many were linked to UK institutions and groups closely described as biotechnology businesses and which focus mainly connected to the GM industry (GMWatch 2009).
on using gene technologies and related approaches. The largercompanies include some of the major pharmaceutical Other aspects of Science About Science (SAS) are also corporations discussed in chapter 4, together with BASF, Dow noteworthy in this context. Recent accounts show that SAS Chemicals, Monsanto and Syngenta. These companies are receives approximately half of its income from business, with economically very powerful – for example, BASF reported sales large donors including the biotechnology company AstraZeneca of €62 billion (£49 billion) in 2008 (BASF 2009). The smaller (SAS, 2008). The founder and current Chair is Dick Taverne, companies operating in this sector include (at the time of writing) whose background is in law, politics and business rather than Amgen, Genentech, and MedImmune. However, even these science. He has been very critical of the attention given to a companies are fairly sizeable – Amgen's sales in 2008 were number of environmental concerns, and has, for example, nearly $15 billion (£7 billion) (Amgen 2009). These companies derided opponents of GM crops, criticised the conclusions of the are often acquired by the more powerful ones to diversify R&D IPCC (the UN's advisory body on climate change – see chapter portfolios and hence products. 7), and accused environmental groups of ‘eco-fundamentalism' (for example, Taverne 2003). Furthermore many of the Board of Trustees of SAS do not have a background in science, and a 8.4 Problems related to commercial
number are involved with the ‘LM network' which lobbies for GM involvement in biotechnology
food, human cloning, denial of global warming, and against The range of issues raised by both biotechnology itself and the restraints on corporate activity (Monbiot 2003; LobbyWatch corporate involvement we have briefly described is huge and necessarily we can only provide a limited analysis in this report.
Such groups help to create a pro-industry backdrop both to the We wish to concentrate in this section on particular examples of public understanding of the issues surrounding GM technology where corporate interest influences the nature of the research and to funding decisions made regarding agricultural research process and how funding introduces a variety of problems, not priorities. Public relations companies play a central role in the least bias, conflicts of interest and the potential for misuse. All of ‘information war' which projects positive claims about GM these, of course, have important consequences for the practice technology and marginalises informed criticism (they play similar and health of science and its application. roles in other industrial sectors areas too, as discussed in In addition, corporate-backed lobby groups not only try to chapters 5 and 7, for example). Both Lexington and the Bivings influence the public acceptance of GM techniques and products, Group have been active in attempting to subdue GM-critical but also help shape government attitudes and the research voices. For instance, Bivings was involved in a campaign to have agenda. For instance the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (set Nature retract a paper it published, which alleged that native up by BASF, Monsanto, Dow Agrisciences and Syngenta) has Mexican corn had been contaminated by GM pollen (Monbiot access to the ear of government; the first chair of the Council 2002a, 2002b). Recent research has confirmed that Mexican was Stephen Smith, the former head of Syngenta Seeds. The corn has been contaminated by genetically modified plants Council has organised, through the public relations outfit (Piñeyro-Nelson et al 2009).
Lexington Communications, a pro-GM publicity campaign targeting public perception of the technology. CropGen is another In the pages which follow we look at four aspects of biotechnology industry-funded lobby group with a determinedly biotechnology for which there is sufficient data to allow further pro-GM stance (Lobby Watch 2007); it calls itself an "education discussion of corporate effects and how they go towards shaping and information initiative for consumers and the media". In February 2009 the UK group Sense About Science (which was seed research, development and supply; set up in 2002 in order to "promote evidence and scientific conflicts of interest; reasoning in public discussion") published a new guide to GM synthetic biology; and crops and food entitled Making sense of GM (SAS 2009). The publication was written by a group of scientists and focused broad concerns about biosecurity. 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 61 The biotechnology sector 8.4.1. Seed research, development and
food, a corporate view neatly packaged by lobby groups, third- parties like those mentioned above and public relationscompanies like Lexington (Monbiot 2002a; 2002b; Glover 2009). Over the past forty years plant breeding and seed sales havebeen increasingly privatised in the USA and Europe (including the This high level of market dominance and financial power wielded UK). For biotechnology corporations across the world, the by large companies like Monsanto has shaped the global patented seed is the specific vehicle through which their agricultural research agenda. Work on more sustainable ways of proprietary technologies – genes and their means of growing food has become marginal in the face of such high manipulation – are delivered. There has also been a marked growth in agricultural research by the private sector at the same A study for the US Department of Agriculture examined the time as that carried out in government laboratories falls (Shand biotechnology research that was promoted through the domination of a small group of companies in the seed industry.
Corporate involvement in biotechnology has steered R&D (andseed supply) to focus largely on GM crops and away from more Box 8.1 – The corporate reach of
traditional plant breeding – including virtually ignoring agro-ecological methods, such as organic farming and other forms of ‘pro-poor' approaches to farming. The dominance of GMapproaches, especially in the hands of large powerful companies At the time of writing the following are major seed companies like Monsanto, marginalises other forms of agriculture and food affiliated to or owned by Monsanto. The data that we have provision. Such technologies are primarily for large-scale used is the most complete available and more extensive than commercial farmers of the rich world (Scoones 2009). The use of that obtainable from industry sources: patents and intellectual property rights reinforces this approach, * DeKalb Seed Company – has 11 per cent of the US corn and ignores the needs and choices of the public and farmers alike (see contributions in Tokar 2001 and Glover 2009). * Holden Foundation Seeds – 35 per cent of US corn acres Corporate control and ownership of seeds has profound effects are grown with Holden seeds. Companies like Du Pont upon food security, the research agenda across the biosciences, and Plant Genetic Systems purchase the parent seed and the economic standing of farmers, especially in the poorer from Holden and subsequently develop the crop countries (FAO 2003). In July 2005, Phillips McDougall a UK- * Asgrow Seed Company – Monsanto's soybean seeds are based agricultural business analyst, quoted the value of the produced by Asgrow, which remains part of Mexico's global commercial seed market at $19 trillion and estimated that the top ten companies control around 51 per cent of the wholemarket. Despite continued controversy and the lack of public First Line Seeds – Canadian soybean company acceptance of GM plants in many parts of the world, GM seeds * Plant Breeding International (Cambridge, UK) – a former are gaining market share. In 2005 Phillips McDougall estimated research institute of Cambridge University founded in that GM seeds represented about 25 per cent of the total value 1912, which was transferred to Unilever under the of the global commercial seed market (ETC 2005) yet only a few government's privatisation drive in 1987, and per cent when measured by acreage (FOE 2009).
subsequently sold. It now has an established breeding Let us spend some time now looking at the activities of programme for various crops including oilseed rape, Monsanto, which is the world's leading producer of GM seeds.
potatoes, winter wheat and barley Monsanto is a major seed and herbicide business and dominates Monsanto also owns the following research companies: the global market for GM crops with specific traits (Glover 2009).
Monsanto has joined other major agribusiness companies in * Calgene – a former small biotechnology laboratory which supporting third-party organisations such as the Biotechnology developed Flavr Savr Tomato, the first GM crop marketed Industry Organisation, the International Food Information Council, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council and others who have * Agracetus – a research company currently developing vigorously promoted GM crops as a safe and appropriate pharmaceutical crops – plants that produce drugs and technology (see discussions in Glover 2009). other therapeutic molecules as a result of genetic Monsanto's influence is projected through the R&D it funds and undertakes, the seeds it produces, and the arguments it uses to * Cereon Genomics – plant gene sequencing subsidiary persuade government and those in science that gene Sources: Greenpeace (2008); ETC (2005) technologies should be the predominant means of providing 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 62 Science and the corporate agenda The study used the number of field-trial applications for GM USA) could give data about the long-term consequences of GM crops from private firms and divided this number by the sales crops in the diet over time and in different populations. However, from private industry of seed for each major crop. This calculation trying to unpick the many complicating factors within human provides a measure of ‘research intensity' which can be populations with respect to diet and its influence is notoriously compared across the different crops. Using this methodology for difficult. Nevertheless this does not remove the need for there to corn, soybeans and cotton indicates that, as the seed industry be firm data on human health consequences of consuming GM became more concentrated in the 1990s, private research intensity declined. The authors thus concluded that reduced The transfer of GM genes from commonly allergenic sources is competition led to less R&D, reducing innovation even in gene- actively discouraged unless it can be shown that the product of based agricultural research rather than increasing it (Fernandez- the transferred gene does not provoke an allergic response. The Cornejo & Schimmelpfennig 2004; ETC 2005). This is despite Food and Agriculture Organisation and WHO have evaluated tests claims from the biotechnology corporations to the contrary. for picking up allergenicity from GM sources and whilst they In the UK the Research Councils, in particular the Biotechnology appear to be satisfactory in the laboratory, it is unclear if they can and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), work with the identify risks across human populations over long periods of biotechnology sector to provide support for a high technology, time. Genes carrying antibiotic resistance would have important pro-GM approach. Although it is difficult to locate reliable consequences for human health – but again there is a lack of information on the extent of GM research funding in the UK, there solid, well-controlled data to assess this area (WHO 2009). are some illustrative examples among the activities of the The movement of GM genes into conventional crops or related BBSRC: a £10 million partnership with the food industry in the species in the wild (outcrossing) as well as the mixing of non-GM Diet and Health Research Industry Club; the Biotechnology Young with GM crops may have an unintended effect on food safety and Entrepreneurs School; CASE awards; and the Business Plan security. Evidence that this risk is real comes from the case of a Competition. However, the BBSRC has joined forces with the UK GM maize harvest that was only approved for animal feed use Department for International Development to provide £7 million being mixed with maize for human use in the USA (WHO 2009).
for sustainable agricultural research within the government's In order to be sure of the human and environmental safety and programme of support for international development. According impact of GM crops, it is essential to have in place robust post- to its website this programme appears to fund the use of marketing monitoring of GM food products. There are also selective breeding and gene identification, there being no difficult issues concerning who carries the liability for mention of GM technology, but details are not unequivocal on this environmental harm should the monitoring pick up problems.
score (DFID & BBSRC 2008). Whilst such apparent diversification Simple assurances from GM lobbies and governments should not of research is to be welcomed, it is a small sum in comparison stand in place of reliable data and a more precautionary with the overall budget of the BBSRC, projected to be £471 million in 2010-2011, and the £34 million which the BBSRCcurrently has available simply for supporting businesscompetitiveness (DIUS 2007). 8.4.2. Biotechnology research and conflicts
A great deal of the antipathy towards GM crops shown by the of interest
public in the UK and in other European countries concerns the As described earlier, there is a marked tendency for bias and potential health and environmental impacts of such crops. With conflicts of interest to follow from corporate sources of research powerful industrial lobbies strongly influencing both governments funding. In chapter 4 we examined the twin issues of conflicts of and scientific research, there is much distrust of the safety interest and bias in the case of research into new therapies and assurances given in this area (Tokar 2004). The four principle the testing of potentially new pharmaceuticals that had been areas in which safety assessments are undertaken are: (a) direct funded by pharmaceutical companies. health effects – toxicity; (b) the ability to provoke an allergicreaction; (c) the stability of the gene which is inserted into the Biases such as these not only compromise the validity of crop (or animal); (d) any unintended effects that are triggered by research results, but also adversely impact on the quality of, and the inserted gene.
public confidence in, science and technology. As we discussedearlier it is essential that any possible or actual conflicts of Many of the tests that have been undertaken to assess these interest and the potential for bias should be disclosed in order to effects depend upon animal models of dubious relevance to enable peer reviewers of journal papers, editors and readers to humans. Long-term assessment of humans consuming GM food be able to judge for themselves the nature of the findings and the is either not being undertaken or is so over-simplified as to risk reliability of data and conclusions. missing complex effects. A robust large scale study in placeswhere people are already consuming GM products (such as the In new and emerging areas like those found in biotechnology, 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 63 The biotechnology sector bias is also likely to arise in the form of exaggerated claims made (Dalton 1999; Dalton 2004; Bero 2008). In 2004 an independent about the new approaches or products. Such bias is difficult to analysis of the collaboration, undertaken by Lawrence Busch, control or account for in the early stages of development of new was begun because of widespread unease in the University's technologies. The claims made of synthetic biology (see section Department of Plant and Microbial Sciences which received the 8.4.3) clearly show that a great deal is expected of the discipline.
Syngenta funds. The view of the resultant Busch report in 2004 A recent BBSRC report looked at the social and ethical was that the partnership arrangement with Syngenta challenges presented by synthetic biology (Balmer & Martin "compromised the mission of the university" and created serious 2008). The authors, independent researchers with knowledge of conflicts of interest. Out of the 20 patents which arose as a the impact of new technologies, warned that one area of consequence of the collaboration, Syngenta followed only six and biotechnology in particular – synthetic biology – "must not be no licence agreements had been negotiated with the University of over-hyped by its supporters and critics should not exaggerate California (Dalton 2004). This example demonstrates how the risks it poses".
patents can be taken out (thus restricting academic research)even when there is little potential for commercial benefit. The issue of the failure to declare potential conflicts of interest isillustrated by a study of 79 papers in molecular biology (including The publication of the draft human genome in 2001, the first areas in biotechnology) submitted to the journal Nature in a six- vertebrate genome to be published, was the result of a race month period in 2005 (Mayer 2006). This study shows that, in between public and commercial research groups (IHGSC 2001).
two-thirds of the papers in which authors had patent applications The prize for publishing first went to the public consortium. But or company affiliations which might be considered to present the project rested on a complex foundation of commercial and competing financial interests, the authors did not disclose them.
public funding and research endeavour – too detailed to be Only four papers in the study actually declared that some of the described here (Baltimore 2001). The project has led to a authors had competing financial interests. This is despite the significant increase in the understanding of the identity of genes, International Committee of Medical Journal Editors stating that related in various ways to human disease. However, it has also interests must be declared "whether or not the individual believes quickened the pace of the commercialisation of the human that the relationship affects his or her scientific judgment" (ICMJE genome and individual genes or groups of genes.
2008). The impact of such conflicts of interest, including financial A notable example of how a publicly-funded gene research ones, is highly likely to introduce ‘publication bias' (a form of project, building on the research data released from the Human sponsorship bias that we discussed in section 4.3) into data Genome Project, can be influenced by the views of a small presentation and so pose questions about the reliability of journal number of corporate figures (with the active involvement of reports (Ioannidis 2005).
government) is the UK Biobank. This £61m project is funded by Nature is one of the most prestigious science journals and the the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Wellcome Trust, the integrity of the research it publishes is essential to its reputation.
Department of Health, the Scottish Executive and the North West The objectivity and integrity of science – and the public's Regional Development Agency. The research intends to link a confidence in it – depend upon such journals upholding the national DNA database with patient records from the NHS and highest standards of openness and avoiding publication bias. As thereby trace the role of certain patient's genes in the diseases the author of the study pointed out, the study extended and to which they succumb. The intention is to predict and prevent confirmed other reports of possible publication bias in areas common illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. The idea other than pharmaceutical sciences (Mayer 2006) and adds was first floated by George Poste, then at SmithKline Beecham, further concern about the corporate funding of cutting-edge and was later supported by senior figures involved with the science (Bekelman et al 2003). Clearly in areas where funders commercial sector such as Richard Sykes, then Chair of are powerful and the stakes are high, journal editors must GlaxoSmithKline, David Cooksey, founder of Advent Venture enforce the disclosure of financial interests far more rigorously Partners and Mark Walport, Head of the Wellcome Trust. A than is presently the case. detailed account of the route by which this small group ofindustry-linked senior figures pushed a project based on the Conflicts of interest, aside from publication bias, which involve commercialisation of the human genome, linked closely to a corporate collaboration in the biosciences, have been discussed significant expansion of the pharmaceutical market, is given in in the professional press. The University of California (Berkeley) GeneWatch (2009). began a five year partnership in 2003 with Syngenta (the Swissbiotechnology firm formerly part of Novartis) which provided $25 Despite expert criticisms of the underlying science of treating million to the university's plant research effort. Although the deal ‘pre-symptomatic' individuals and of gene-screening a huge brought research income to the university it also raised a number population (see Barbour 2003), the UK Biobank is going ahead.
of ethical worries, not least about the propriety of the The project throws up several of the criticisms that are arrangement and the question of intellectual property rights fundamental to our critique of corporate involvement with 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:38 Page 64 Science and the corporate agenda science and research activities in the university sector, in 2008 suggested the following examples of possible applications using the tools presently available: * The commercialisation and subsequent patenting of genes * Development of cheap anti-malaria drugs and other together with the creation of a knowledge economy-based treatments for tropical diseases approach to healthcare; * Initial steps towards the high-yield production of cheap and * The Biobank project addresses the ‘needs of business' rather sustainable forms of energy to replace fossil fuels than looking disinterestedly at a means of using gene * Programmable cells for gene therapy techniques to understand disease. * Environmental de-contamination using novel ‘constructed' Many have criticised the value of predictive gene tests but these criticisms have not been incorporated into the project; Molecular computers * The decision-making process involves non-accountable industry figures working with government without fully The expert members of the discussion group did however voice independent oversight and transparency; the need for the topic to be open and to have oversight,especially given the pace of developments (RS 2008).
* A whole raft of problems arising from commercial access to electronic patient records and issues of privacy; Others have suggested the design of new food sources,autonomous vehicles and novel therapeutic agents which could * The issue of public expertise residing in universities being be developed by synthetic biologists. The combination of peak oil, used to benefit business; climate change and the increasing costs of energy and fuel * The central role of the goals of economic benefit and production have provided an added impetus to research in and innovation as a stimulus for research – with public good and funding of synthetic biology. University-business partnerships broader social benefits coming second; have already become part of the synthetic biology researchculture; an example is the partnership between BP and the * The failure to address public concerns about University of California at Berkeley. Other corporations like commercialisation and patenting of genes in the decision- DuPont, Proctor and Gamble, Shell and Chevron have entered into a variety of university-industry partnerships in the USA. In the * The fact that no independent cost-benefit analysis of the UK the Research Councils have begun a funding programme prediction and prevention hypothesis, central to the Biobank involving collaboration between several universities including project, has been undertaken.
Cambridge and Bristol to build up the UK research base insynthetic biology.
8.4.3. Synthetic biology
However, several professional bodies in the UK and USA includingthe Royal Society and US National Science Advisory Board for The declared aim of synthetic biologists is to design and Biosecurity have warned of some potential negative effects of construct novel life forms using engineering and computational developments in synthetic biology (RS 2008; and discussion in techniques (RSC 2008). Synthetic biology represents a major Samuel et al 2009). Some of their concerns echo our own. For step change from the manipulation of genetic material to the instance, the costs and technical barriers impeding gene construction of biological parts, involving assembly instructions in manipulation and the building of artificial life forms are being ways that can clearly invent ‘new life forms' and hence raise rapidly removed. The ETC Group estimates that the price of important ethical, scientific and practical issues. Space does not synthetic DNA has fallen to a tenth of 2000 prices (ETC 2007).
allow us to provide a detailed account of synthetic biology and Such cost reductions are likely to continue. Laboratory costs for the new developments being reported. Excellent accounts of undertaking synthetic biology are also low and falling. Similarly synthetic biology and its potential, positive and negative, may be the skills needed to undertake such research are to be commonly found in a number of reports (ETC 2007; RSC 2008) and on found at the undergraduate level (ETC 2007). The implications for relevant websites1.
biosecurity (possible weaponisation and similar threats – see Our purpose in this section is to briefly indicate what synthetic section 8.4.4 below) and biosafety (accidental release) are of biology seeks to achieve, its approaches and the possible risks considerable concern and could directly follow from which are posed or exacerbated by corporate involvement with manipulations of the genes of various organisms to make them the area. Because synthetic biology has developed from a into bioweapons (RS 2008; Kelle 2007; Samuel et al 2009). For merging of many different fields within science and engineering instance the synthesis of a virus or bacteria is highly feasible in the potential uses of the approach are enormous. A discussion the very near future using existing synthetic biology methods, meeting held under the auspices of the Royal Society in June steps having already been made by US-based research groups.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 65 The biotechnology sector There are at present more than 70 commercial firms which offer technologies including those to be found in synthetic biology3.
gene-synthesising and building short genome (ETC 2007) What is missing, however, is some substantial objective input to segments (DNA libraries). Such developments have the potential the decision-making process in order to balance the power of the to pose serious environmental and security problems, and are economic agenda (apparent within both corporate and public discussed later.
funding) that is present within synthetic biology – both in the UKand the USA. An independent and influential over A number of US government agencies, including the gathered views from the public as well as expert opinion would Departments of Defense and Energy, the National Institutes of help to monitor the pace of development in this powerful field.
Health, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), have investedof millions of dollars in synthetic biology centres and researchprojects. Venture capital companies have also been providing 8.4.4. Biosecurity and biotechnology
funds for synthetic biology projects. The published NSF researchpriorities for 2009 indicate synthetic biology funding may The Royal Society convened an international workshop in 2006 increase (Caruso 2008). Foundations with a science portfolio which brought together 84 leading researchers and policy such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are investing in experts to discuss the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention synthetic biology projects. Establishments like the Whitehead (BTWC) and various developments in science and technology, Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have been including in synthetic biology. The workshop warned that there recipients of such funding. This will very likely drive science to were significant security problems associated with synthetic address predominantly economic objectives rather than those of biology advances – not least the cheapness of DNA technology a broader importance and scope. The situation is more difficult to which could lead to ‘garage biology', with the consequent risk ofbioweapons development, which we discussed in the previous assess in the UK, but a study by the Royal Academy of section (RS 2006). The workshop participants stressed the need Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences (its main brief for well-constructed regulatory mechanisms, which did not being systems biology2 as well as synthetic) suggested in 2007 hinder legitimate research. However, they did not comment on that the establishment of new specialist centres be made a the fact that the corporate sector is a powerful and largely priority. They also added that further investment in the area is unaccountable driver of the growth of this area of research. It is urgently required, together with the fostering of interdisciplinary clear that commercial influences were an important aspect in the skills and supportive research environments for systems and failure of negotiations on the BTWC verification protocol in 2001: synthetic biology. these collapsed under industry pressure that commercial The BBSRC in the UK has already set up seven systems biology confidentiality arrangements should not be compromised (see centres and, together with the EPSRC and other research the discussions in Rappert & McLeish 2007).
councils, plans to devote monies to develop the infrastructure for Powerful new technologies that may use infective organisms in synthetic biology to thrive (BBSRC 2008a). At present Imperial their research have the potential for ‘dual use', i.e. although not College London, and the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, intentionally related to military use, the research has the potential Glasgow and Manchester have large research groups in synthetic to create bioweapons. A number of areas in biotechnology biology. The drive to develop synthetic biology is thus well possess the risk, albeit at present quite remote, of abrogating the underway and, given the economic focus that all the Research BTWC (Rappert & McLeish 2007). These include: Councils are supposed to champion in the universities (seechapter 2), there will be significant commercial programmes with * Increasing the virulence of existing pathogens or novel corporate partners participating in all these developments. As agents by changes to the gene(s); has been seen elsewhere in this report there is little evidence of * Changing existing non-pathogenic (harmless) organisms to plans for public or non-partisan oversight. This is despite the enable them to cause infections and attack humans and advice of an independent BBSRC Report (Balmer & Martin 2008) other animals by means of genetic modification; and the joint Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering Report * Modification of infective agents to avoid human immune on Nanotechnology, which stressed the need for both public mechanisms and thus increase their ability to kill or cause engagement and oversight in such new technologies (RS/RAE * Genomic targeting – the use of techniques from gene The BBSRC allocates around £19 million a year to research therapy to target bioweapons to distinct ethnic groups.
activities in synthetic biology (BBSRC 2008b) whilst the Economicand Social Research Council (ESRC) is funding a Genomics Whilst some of these techniques are still in their infancy, the rate Network to the tune of a modest £12 million, designed to better of development in biotechnology presents a possible future risk facilitate both expert and lay discussions of the social, economic, of biosecurity lapses. This is made more likely given the negative ethical and practical issues which are raised by advances in gene aspects – such as secrecy and lack of transparency – that stem 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 66 Science and the corporate agenda from corporate funding and involvement in biotechnology 5. Partnerships of various sorts between academic research and governance. A number of commentators have researchers and biotechnology companies are focussed discussed how biotechnology might be regulated in balanced on addressing R&D of interest to the companies involved.
ways which take account of the concerns of researchers,business and the public using a modified ‘code of conduct' for Influence on the direction and results of specific
researchers. Such codes would build upon the expertise of all research studies (both intentional and
involved in the area – funders, researchers, regulators and commercial players. The adoption of codes would draw attentionto potential bioweapons areas and the presence of national and 1. Significant conflicts of interest and bias are introduced international conventions and regulations. Such codes could into research studies, mainly through industry funding; identify dual-use issues clearly, where developments in, for 2. The biotechnology corporations tend to financially instance, medical aspects of biotechnology have the potential for support university research – often with UK Research bioweapons purposes. Several authors discuss a number of Council support – that addresses only one aspect of the examples of possible codes of conduct (Rappert & McLeish area of interest (for example, crop science).
2007; James 2006; Caruso 2008).
Influence on the openness of research studies
In summary, commercial influence on biotechnology R&D isconsiderable, contributing to a strong focus on genetic 1. Clearance of commercially sensitive data is necessary technologies and a lack of adequate consideration of alternative before it can be published; approaches in fields such as agriculture and medicine. This is in 2. Increasing commercialisation of R&D in universities an area that abounds with complex, ethical issues, and is creates a business ethos which stresses confidentiality characterised by a great deal of scientific uncertainty. The and secrecy and downplays exchange of ideas and data; evidence we have presented demonstrates how commercial pressures can marginalise the proper consideration of wider 3. The biosafety and biosecurity aspects of (especially) concerns, with industry-supported lobby groups exerting strong synthetic biology necessitate a great deal of care in R&D, influence over the debate, especially in the policy realm.
particularly regarding access to materials and information. Commercial pressures can interfere with attempts to control or monitor such activities in the public Summary of the detrimental effects of
biotechnology commercial influence on SET
Influence on the public interpretation of research
Influence on the direction of the research agenda
1. There is an overwhelming concentration on the gene and 1. Bias in the collection of research results (see above) associated technologies. The gene has become a leads to biases in the reporting of that research; commodity of financial interest to those holding thepatent on specific sequences; 2. Pro-GM lobbies and public relations organisations (funded by biotechnology industry) stress the potential 2. In agricultural R&D, GM crop technologies have become value of gene technologies (such as GM crops and dominant, marginalising alternatives without synthetic biology), and act to marginalise criticism.
demonstrating superiority in social or environmental Science lobby groups which are supportive of GM claim terms. A small number of large corporations, such as to be unbiased, but many remain secretive about their Monsanto, have been responsible for bringing about thisdominance; sources of funding and in fact maintain close links to the industry, making it difficult to judge the reliability of their 3. In the medical R&D sector, there has been a growing focus on exploring the genetic routes of disease (forexample, in the UK Biobank), again marginalising 3. Voices within the biosciences that are critical of GM exploration of alternatives; technology are not given sufficient opportunity to be heard. The public relations companies play an important 4. Biotechnology company representatives occupy role in ensuring that any environment for serious debate important positions within the governance of science and has a pro-GM backdrop. Whilst there is media interest in technology without appropriate counter-balance from anti-GM voices, there is much less critical input in policy those with other interests; 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 67 The biotechnology sector References and further reading
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6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 69 The biotechnology sector Samuel G N, Selgelid M J & Kerridge I (2009). Managing the unimaginable: Regulatory responses to the challenges posed by 1. Relatively independent digests of synthetic biology can be synthetic biology & synthetic genomics. EMBO Reports 10: 7- by US-based synthetic biology researchers. For news on SAS (2008). Sense About Science: Financial Statements 2008.
EU-based research go to: access to NEST (New and Emerging Science andTechnology). SAS (2009). Making sense of GM: What is the geneticmodification of plants & why are scientists doing it? Sense 2. Systems biology seeks an integrated view of the various About Science.
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/en/ 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 70 Science and the corporate agenda 9. Conclusions
Science, engineering and technology have long relied on funding framework, particular business sectors (and companies) have from a range of sources, including private benefactors, business significant input at senior levels of public funding bodies, such as and the State. Maintaining the right balance between the sources Research Councils, as well as into universities. The latter is is fundamental to ensuring that society reaps the benefits of manifested through strategic funding of research centres, these endeavours. The evidence we have gathered in this report professorial chairs, fellowships, and individual research projects reveals that the relationship has become distinctly unbalanced, and courses. In a number of disciplines, especially engineering and that this is not good either for science and engineering or, in and some applied sciences, it becomes difficult to find university the long run, for commerce itself. departments without connections to one or more powerfulindustrial interests. This can create an environment where the Over the last 20 years, governments in the UK and other questioning of the merits and ethics of particular lines of industrialised nations have come increasingly to view science, research becomes significantly more difficult. engineering and technology principally as part of the engine ofeconomic growth. Thus, activities in these fields have taken on a Consequently it does not require scientific misconduct (in the narrow and markedly commercial identity in many areas.
conventional understanding of the term) for there to be a Governments argue that this situation is broadly beneficial, with significant bias created by the involvement of industry with the commercialisation being a main route through which benefits of academic community. Indeed businesses can and do choose to research funding are passed on to society. However, in this support researchers who have a particular research interest and report, we have outlined two serious and interlinked concerns: point of view that coincide with industrial priorities. In the chapteron the pharmaceutical sector, we presented strong evidence That the quality, reliability and public perception of scientific from peer-reviewed sources of how studies funded directly by a activities are being compromised by close involvement with company are much more likely to yield results favourable to that the commercial sector; and company. In the chapter on the oil and gas sector, we showed That the emphasis on economic goals is undermining the how scientists who doubt that humans cause climate change can ability of science and technology to deliver a diverse range of be funded by the industry to widely publicise their point of view.
social and environmental benefits.
The chapter on the military/defence sector revealed how difficult In a recent science policy document, the UK government stated, it is to find a UK university which does not receive funding from "There is no reason why the way science is conducted, governed this industry.
or communicated by the private sector should be or be perceived The situation, however, can be even murkier. Some scientists do to be any different from the public sector" (DIUS, 2008). This is a not always declare a conflict of interest when, for example, view also shared by some working in science and technology.
receiving industry funding when they publish data on the safety The rationale is broadly that scientists are professionals who will or efficacy of a given pharmaceutical product. Some companies do their job competently regardless of who is funding or use commercial confidentiality rules to avoid publication of employing them. But the reality is far more complex and more research results unfavourable to them. Others in sectors such as disturbing, as demonstrated by the evidence that we have biotechnology and military/defence strongly influence the presented in this report across five major sectors – research agenda leading to a dearth of funding for alternatives to pharmaceuticals, tobacco, military/defence, oil and gas, and their products. And yet others covertly fund lobby groups to argue that ‘sound science' is being ignored. Perhaps of most concern A central problem is that, not only is business orientated towards is the fact that different industries are learning subversive tactics private financial gain, it has also become very powerful – both from each other in order to further their narrow business economically and politically. Some individual corporations, as we interests. For example, one pattern which emerges from our have seen, are as economically powerful as large countries.
evidence is that public relations tactics first used by the tobacco Given the way in which innovation can support economic growth, industry, during the debate over the links between smoking and this means business has gained considerable influence over the ill-health, have subsequently been applied by the oil and gas agenda for scientific research and (especially) technological sector in the climate science debate, and also by the development. We showed in chapter 2 how UK government policy organisations in the biotechnology industry to promote their decisions on science and technology have increasingly been perspective on research they fund.
orientated towards the interests of business for at least two Defenders of the status quo argue that cases of misconduct are decades (and indeed this trend is accelerating). Within this few and far between, while systemic problems are not significant 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 71 Part III – Conclusions and recommendations (Anon 2002; and discussion in Bird & Spier 2005). There is good influence of environmental groups is the significant problem reason to believe that occurrences of the more severe forms of here. Where problems can arise is when the CSO in question is misconduct – falsification, fabrication and plagiarism of data – not open about its funding sources or some of its political/ethical are rare (Greenberg 2007). However, systematic investigation of viewpoints, and it turns out to be close to, for example, a hidden bias and related problems has only been carried out in any depth special interest. This, as we have shown in this report, is a clear in parts of the pharmaceutical and tobacco sectors and, as we problem with interest groups close to commercial interests. have shown, here there is rigorous and extensive evidence of In practice, the influence of CSOs remains much more limited significant problems. In other sectors, such as oil and gas, than that of business, largely because their access to finance is biotechnology, and military/defence, it is also straightforward to considerably less. Indeed, in the one sector where CSOs are find high profile cases of problems, as we have documented.
major funders of scientific research – the health sector – their Furthermore, Scientists for Global Responsibility – through our involvement is widely seen as positive. This raises the question of membership and other academic contacts – have been whether there should actually be more government/public repeatedly alerted to particular concerns about the creeping funding available to CSOs to encourage their greater involvement commercialisation of the research agenda and its detrimental in scientific research. This is an issue we take up in our effect on research, teaching and training within universities.
recommendations in the next chapter. However, in-depth academic research looking at the effects ofcommercial influence in many areas has simply not been carried In summary, then, the main concerns about commercial influence on science and technology presented in this report areas follows: Some further information is noteworthy at this point. Oneexample is a recent UK opinion survey which indicated that 1) There is clear evidence that large-scale, commercial members of the public have significantly less trust in corporate involvement in university-based science, engineering and funded/influenced science (People Science and Policy Ltd/ TNS technology has impacts that can be very detrimental, such as 2008). It seems that the public, like us, does not accept the introduction of significant bias and the marginalisation of government assurances that science which is supported by the work with clear social and environmental benefits. These commercial sector is as robust or reliable as the publicly-funded impacts occur at different levels, including during individual kind. A further piece of evidence is also revealing. A recent study research studies, the agenda-setting process for R&D, and for the ‘Russell Group' of research-intensive universities in the communication of findings to fellow professionals, policy- UK indicates that, even in simple economic terms, ‘pure' or blue makers and the public. While academic examination of these skies research can have a far greater social and economic impacts has so far been limited, there is nevertheless impact than research undertaken with specific commercial end- credible evidence of serious problems across all the five points in mind (Fearn 2008). Other evidence from the USA sectors examined in this study.
indicates that academic technology transfer offices often do notgenerate significant incomes for their host universities 2) At the level of the individual research study, we found the (Greenberg 2007). Technology transfer pathways within the following problems: university sector in the UK and Europe are complex and variable.
(a) Direct commercial funding of a research study increases This complexity calls into the question the prevailing and overly the likelihood that the results will be favourable to the simple government/ business view that the ‘corporatisation' of funders. Evidence of this mainly came from academic universities, and science and technology more broadly, is research in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology necessary and of benefit, even from a narrow economic sectors. One way in which this bias – known as perspective (Smith et al 2008).
sponsorship bias – happened in the cases underexamination was that funders tended to choose What of the interest groups outside of the commercial sector that scientists who were already sympathetic to their influence science and technology? It has been claimed, for viewpoint. Intentional distortion or suppression of data example, that environmental groups and some other civil society was much less common, although it did occur, especially organisations (CSOs) have too much influence over the science in pharmaceutical and the tobacco funded areas, and it and technology agenda – and unduly exaggerate potential may well be more prevalent.
problems (for example, Taverne 2003). It is true that in somepublic debates on scientific issues environmental groups can be (b) Openness in research can be compromised through the influential. However, given the wealth of scientific evidence for use of commercial confidentiality agreements (including major environmental problems (UNEP 2007) and the patents) and other intellectual property rights considerable evidence that society has been slow to act in the considerations. We found evidence for this in the past (EEA 2001), one has to question whether the political pharmaceutical and biotechnology areas, but such 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 72 Science and the corporate agenda problems may well be evident at the individual level example, marginalise investigation of lifestyle across other areas in science and technology, which changes as a method of disease prevention, or lead have not been scrutinised as yet.
to a focus on disease treatments for wealthier communities able to pay for them rather than the (c) Conflicts of interest of scientific researchers (for more common global diseases.
example, financial interests) have the potential to compromise the research process. There is limited (ii) In terms of the scientific response to food security, monitoring or policing of the problem, so its true extent is the influence of the biotechnology industry can lead unknown. We found evidence of this problem in the to unjustified focus on high technology approaches pharmaceutical, tobacco and biotechnology sectors.
to increasing crop yields rather than investigating 3) At the level of setting the priorities and direction of R&D, we lower-cost agricultural options or addressing wider found the following problems: problems of food distribution or poverty. (a) Economic criteria are increasingly used by government to (iii) In terms of the scientific response to climate change, decide the overarching priorities for public funding of the influence of the oil and gas industry can lead to a science and technology, in close consultation with business.
focus on fossil fuel-based technologies or controversial biofuels rather than controlling energy demand, (b) Universities are being internally reorganised so that they increasing efficiency, or a more rapid expansion of behave more like businesses, while key attributes of the academic ethos such as openness, objectivity and widely accepted renewable energy technologies.
independence are being seriously eroded. (iv) In terms of the scientific response to security threats, (c) Companies have expanded the number and range of the influence of the military/defence sector in partnerships with universities, focusing on business science and engineering can drive an undue research priorities and goals. The power and influence of emphasis on weapons and other high technology some corporations, and the increased pressure on approaches, rather than one that prioritises researchers to bring in funding from business, means negotiation, arms control treaties, and other conflict that academic departments are increasingly orientating resolution or prevention activities.
themselves to commercial needs rather than to broader 4) At the level of communication with policy-makers and the public interest or curiosity-driven goals. This is a trend public, we found the following problems: especially evident in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, and military partnerships. (a) If threatened by emerging scientific evidence about the health or environmental problems related to their (d) The growing business influence on universities is industry, some of the larger companies are willing to fund resulting in a greater focus on intellectual property rights major public relations campaigns aimed at strongly (including patents) in academic work. Hence knowledge is increasingly being ‘commodified' for short-term encouraging policy-makers and the public to support economic benefit. This can undermine its application for their interpretation of the scientific evidence (even if it is wider public benefit, and produces a narrow approach to far from that endorsed by most scientists). Tactics uncovered here include funding lobby groups (sometimes covertly) to act on their behalf and (e) A high degree of business interest in emerging presenting industry as being for ‘sound science' and technologies, such as synthetic biology and opponents as ‘anti-science'. Evidence of these practices nanotechnology, leads to decisions about these powerful is especially strong in the tobacco and oil and gas technologies being taken with little public consultation.
sectors, with some evidence from the biotechnology This is of particular concern because of the major sector too. Companies more willing/able to diversify from uncertainties regarding these technologies, including the possibility of detrimental health and environmental problematic product lines were found to be less likely to impacts which they may produce.
take this course of action. (f) There are particular problems within the five sectors (b) Some companies can be selective in their reporting of examined in this report: academic findings of efficacy or safety of a newly launched product. This ‘marketing bias' was found (i) In terms of the scientific response to ill-health, the especially in data from the pharmaceutical and influence of the pharmaceutical industry can, for 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 73 Table 9.1 – Summary of evidence of detrimental effects due to commercial influence on science and
technology in five industrial sectors
Oil and gas
On direction of
On openness of
x – least evidence of detrimental effects/ least detrimental effects xxxx – most evidence of detrimental effects/ most detrimental effects (c) Some sections of the pharmaceutical industry ‘expand' EEA (2001). Late Lessons from early warnings: the the definition of human disorders and fund patient- precautionary principle 1896-2000. Environmental issue report interest groups, which help to increase the market for No 22. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.
their products. This can compromise both patient care and the underlying scientific basis of medicine.
Fearn H (2008). Reach for the skies: applied research is half aslucrative. Times Higher Education 13 November 2008.
Greenberg D (2007). Science for Sale: The perils, rewards and References and further reading
delusions of campus capitalism. University of Chicago Press.
(all web links accessed June 2009) People Science and Policy Ltd/ TNS (2008). Public Attitudes to Anon (2002). Point-counterpoint from the ethics advisory Science 2008: A survey. A report for Research Councils UK and committee: Corporate funding of medical research: the need to Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills.
maintain a balance. Endocrine News 27: 2 April 2002.
Smith L, Romeo S & Bagchi-Sen S (2008). Oxfordshire Bird S J, Spier R E (2005). Editorial: The complexity of biomedical university spin-offs: an evolving system. Cambridge competing & conflicting interests. Science & Engineering Ethics Journal of Regions, Economy & Society 1: 303-319.
Taverne D (2003). Thunderer: When crops burn, the truth goes DIUS (2008). A vision for science and society: A consultation on up in smoke. The Times 18 November.
developing a new strategy for the UK. July. Department for UNEP (2007). GEO-4: Global Environment Outlook – Universities, Innovation and Skills, London. environment for development (4th edition). United NationsEnvironment Programme, Nairobi. 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 74 Science and the corporate agenda Although business involvement with science and technology has partners should meet (UCU-OU 2008). The group argues that a variety of potentially positive effects — for example, the partnerships with companies with poor ethical records – generation of employment or the creation of innovative and including some of those involved in the case above – will reflect useful technologies —there are numerous problems arising from badly on the university's public standing, as well as involving it in insufficiently accountable corporate activity, as this report projects of a questionable nature. They have recommended an documents. The problems identified touch on issues related to approach that draws in particular on the experiences of The Co- the funding for science and technology, the conflicts of interest operative Bank, which uses a set of minimum ethical standards that can arise from the source of some forms of funding, and the to decide the companies to which it should grant financial loans. overall policies governing work in this area. In this final section, Universities may have concerns that ethical policies such as we examine some of the options available for tackling these these could reduce the range of funding available to them. There problems, and make recommendations for reform. We focus on are two responses to these concerns. The first is that such recommendations which are broadly relevant across the science policies may encourage more funding from sources (including and technology sectors. (Some sector-specific reforms have businesses) that value high ethical standards – indeed, this is the been recommended elsewhere, for example House of Commons experience of The Co-operative Bank (The Co-operative Bank 2005 and Langley 2005). It is also worth noting that our 2009). The second is that there are other ways in which they may recommendations could have significant benefits for business – benefit from the business funding that has been more creatively especially more recognition for ethical behaviour, for example – utilised as a result of such policies, as we will discuss below.
as well as for universities and science and technology more Recommendation 1:
The evidence presented in this report relating to commercial Universities should adopt minimum ethical standards for the involvement in science and technology flagged up one important companies with which they have or form partnerships. These issue repeatedly, which is the ethical record of the companies standards should include social and environmental criteria, as concerned. Concerns about ethics raises the question of whether well as academic standards. The practical application of such universities should decline to become involved in partnerships standards should be overseen by a committee within each with companies whose ethical records are especially poor.
university, co-ordinated on a national basis. The committeeswould comprise a range of interests and expertise.
The activities of the tobacco corporations, in particular, have ledto numerous academics and universities refusing to acceptfunding from them (Michaels 2008). Indeed, Cancer Research UK A related problem, which was encountered across all the sectors – a major charitable funder of health research – refuses to fund examined in this report, was a lack of openness on relationships university research groups which have any connections with the between universities and business. Even use of the Freedom of tobacco industry. It is also significant that Universities UK has Information Act yielded only partial data (for example, see chapter issued a joint protocol with Cancer Research UK on tobacco 6). To ensure proper oversight of university partnerships, there industry funding. While Universities UK does not specifically needs to be a major improvement in transparency. In one of our exclude such funding, it does state that the "expertise, facilities earlier studies (Langley et al 2008), we noted that the University and resources of universities should not knowingly be made of Cambridge had a much more transparent system for reporting available for purposes that would be damaging to the public business-university involvement than many of its compatriots.
interest or common good, e.g. to public health" (Universities UK/Cancer Research UK 2004). It would seem reasonable to Recommendation 2:
interpret this statement as also applying to the receipt of funding Universities should openly publish, as a matter of course, from other industrial sectors whose ethics come into question.
comprehensive data on the nature of their business partnerships.
Some academics and students are actively lobbying for their This will allow more reliable oversight to take place.
universities to take a stronger ethical position regarding theirinvolvement with business. One notable case concerns the Open Our report has also highlighted the problem of sponsorship bias University where – following its involvement in a major – where funding for scientific work from a particular source (such partnership with military industry – a working group of academic as a company) – can influence the way that the research is staff and trade unionists has called on the institution to adopt a undertaken and reported. As we have pointed out, such an effect set of minimum ethical standards that prospective industrial 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 75 Part III – Conclusions and recommendations need not be due to scientific malpractice, but it is problematic economic incentives (for example, tax relief or grants) to facilitate nevertheless, especially when funders are powerful corporations.
donation to particular trusts. Another option would be to insist Hence, it would be very useful if there were new mechanisms that large companies funding academic R&D should allocate a through which funding from business could be provided for certain percentage to be spent either through an independent scientific work that neutralise the undue influence that that trust or on joint research with a civil society organisation.
funding can impart. Two interesting options should be considered for dealing with Recommendation 3:
this problem. The first is to set up an independent funding body A new independent organisation should be set up to disburse a which receives money from business, but disburses it according significant fraction of business funding for scientific research.
to the needs of curiosity-driven or public interest research. It The aim would be to fund research which has particular public could have a steering committee to include a balance of interest (and perhaps is being neglected by mainstream funding representatives from academia, government bodies, business sources). The steering committee of the organisation would and civil society organisations. A useful example here from include a balance of representatives from academia, government another sector is the Community Foundations Network (CFN bodies, business and civil society organisations to ensure the 2009), which funds UK community groups through donations research is indeed carried out in the public interest.
from business, government and individuals. The Wellcome Trusthas also worked with and funded a variety of groups (public and Recommendation 4:
academic) to engage with both public and commercial Business and civil society organisations should undertake more audiences (Wellcome Trust 2009).
joint work on public interest scientific projects. ResearchCouncils should facilitate such collaborative working, and The second option is that funding from business (for a research incentives could be given to encourage participation in this form project, for example) is given in the form of joint funding with of partnership. Each project should have an oversight group another organisation. This is already common for many academic which ensures that both academic standards and ethical research projects, where the partner can be a Research Council concerns are given due weight.
or government body. However the aim in the vast majority ofthese cases is simply to help a particular company engage inmore research to assist it in meeting its commercial objectives.
Related to the issue of sponsorship bias is the general concern Far less common is joint funding between funders with differing, about conflicts of interest in scientific and medical work. The and sometimes even competing, interests. This can be useful, for evidence we have presented indicates that, while this is example, in research examining social and environmental issues considered a very important issue, there is a lack of firm action related to technological development, where a study funded to deal with it. There needs to be far more rigorous means of simply by business would not be accepted as sufficiently identifying and clarifying conflicts of interest when papers are submitted to journals, for instance. Some academic journals doinsist that authors of papers published in those journals declare One groundbreaking study in this regard was a project any financial interests they have related to the paper (for investigating public views on GM crops carried out by the Policy, example, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet), but all Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) research institute at Newcastle journals should do this more vigorously and consistently.
University (Wakeford et al 2003). It was jointly funded by Unilever, Furthermore, there should be sanctions for authors who are Greenpeace, the Consumers' Association and the Co-operative found not to have complied accurately with such declarations.
Group; organisations with a range of — often competing — Possible sanctions include barring the author from publishing views on the issue. The project also had an ‘oversight panel' with a given journal for a certain period of time. More broadly, composed of experts on different aspects of the issue, which academia could follow the practice common to some other included academics as well as a balance of representatives from professions of keeping ‘registers of interests'. This is a industry and civil society. It demonstrated that funders with requirement in politics, for example. Such mechanisms would diverse interests could work together to carry out robust research have the added benefit of increasing public trust in academic on a controversial issue. Indeed, to encourage more projects work, especially if the research area were controversial.
such as this, public money could be made available, especiallygiven that environmental groups and other civil society Recommendation 5:
organisations tend to have much smaller budgets for scientific All academic journals should develop and implement rigorous research compared with those of industry. processes for dealing with all potential conflicts of interest. Such Of course, these two options may not immediately appeal to processes should cover journal editors as well as authors. There some businesses, but government could assist by providing should be sanctions for non-compliance.
6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 76 Science and the corporate agenda Recommendation 6:
involvement. This report has highlighted that the explicit agendafor commercialisation has been a powerful and expanding aspect An open register of interests should be set up for academics, of science and technology policy in the UK (and elsewhere) over starting with those who work in controversial areas of science the past 20 years. This is due to the position that science and and technology. This should cover financial and other interests.
technology hold as key driving factors within the economy. But,given the problems outlined in his report, there is a strong casefor policy changes that would lead to a better balance between One particular area where businesses involved in science and economic concerns and the wider public interest.
technology have been found to be acting in a deliberatelymisleading way is the area of science communication – in First and foremost, there needs to be more recognition that particular, through covert funding of public relations and lobbying considerable economic benefits can still be gained through the groups. Ideally advocacy groups on all sides of debates within the funding of ‘pure' or blue skies research – with significant evidence science and technology realm should be open about their demonstrating that these benefits can even outweigh those funders. This would allow policy-makers, journalists and the produced by R&D focussed specifically on commercial endpoints public to make up their own minds about whether a particular (Martin & Tang 2007; Fearn 2008). There also needs to be more viewpoint has been unduly influenced by a funding source.
recognition that measures which focus specifically on increasing However, it would be difficult in practice to enforce such the commercialisation of research often fail to yield the intended disclosure, so there should be sanctions against companies that economic benefits (for example, see Greenberg 2007). This are found not to be open about their public relations activities. For further strengthens the argument in favour of a science policy example, a requirement on openness could be incorporated into agenda that takes a much more balanced approach to the issue the university ethical standards discussed in Recommendation 1. of commercialisation. As we have noted, the recent policiesimplemented in the UK tend to echo those in the USA, rather than Recommendation 7:
a more measured approach seen in other parts of Europe.
Advocacy groups on all sides of debates in science and There are two key high-level policy changes which could help to technology (including professional institutions) should publicly redress the balance.
disclose funders, to allow the public to decide whether this maybe a source of bias. Recommendation 10:
The newly formed Department of Business, Innovation and Skills Recommendation 8:
– which has responsibility for both universities and science – One of the criteria within a university ethical policy on should be broken up. Public interest science and the universities partnerships with business should be to require openness and should be given greater prominence in the government hierarchy, accuracy in relation to any involvement in science especially at Cabinet level.
communication activities. Recommendation 11:
A recurring theme in our investigation has been that, despite the The House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology extensive evidence of detrimental effects that we have gathered, – which was formed again as this report went to press – should there are still important areas which have attracted little attention investigate the current emphasis on commercialisation within from (especially) academic researchers. For example, there has science policy, and whether a balance is being achieved betweenpowerful interests – such as big business and the military – and been a lot less examination of the role that conflicts of interest the wider public interest. play in UK-based research activities than in the USA. Similarly,there is little data on the publication practices of research staffinvolved with university-industrial partnerships in the UK.
A strong case can also be made for greater public involvement insetting the overall priorities for science and technology – and to Recommendation 9:
prevent business having undue influence. For example, the policy More academic research needs to be conducted into the think-tank Demos has recommended more ‘upstream potentially detrimental effects of the commercialisation of engagement' (Wilsdon & Wills 2004; Wilsdon et al 2005), where science and technology, especially within UK universities.
the public is actively included in discussions about the wideraims of research and development at an early stage (i.e.
upstream) in the process. Some science organisations – Arguably the most substantive and contentious issue in the including some government bodies and the Research Councils – debate about commercial involvement in science and technology have begun carrying out activities in these areas. Two examples is the influence of government policies related to this in the field of nanotechnology are the ‘NanoDialogues' and the 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 77 Nanotechnology Engagement Group (Wilsdon et al 2005).
However, such schemes are still very small in comparison with Steps should be taken to ensure that a balance is struck between the initiatives being pursued with commercial aims. There needs the commercialisation of emerging technologies and the wider to be far more effort directed towards counterbalancing the social and environmental impacts. This could include the setting pervasive influence of business, and making science and up of a Commission on Emerging Technologies and Society, the technology policy more transparent. allocation of adequate levels of funding to examine the widerimpacts and make recommendations on their management, and Recommendation 12:
the wider use of ethical codes of conduct for researchers.
Public involvement in the governance of science and technologyshould be expanded. More resources should be directed towards Recommendation 15:
expanding upstream engagement with the public, including the The Sustainable Development Commission, a leading use of citizens' juries. government advisory body, should have its remit broadened tospecifically cover the role of science and technology incontributing to sustainable development. This could include A related problem in the science policy realm is the growth in the investigating the role of powerful interests in shaping the broader number of business representatives on the boards and science agenda.
committees of the Research Councils and elsewhere in thegovernance of science and technology. There needs to be moreof a balance, with an increase in the number of representatives In general there needs to be a thorough review – perhaps in the from civil society organisations. form of a Royal Commission – into the roles that universities canand should play in our society. Only such a high-level review, with Recommendation 13:
the full range of stakeholders participating, is likely to be able to Research Councils and other major public funders of scientific adequately address the issues raised in this report.
research and teaching should have more balancedrepresentations on their boards and committees between business on the one hand and civil society on the other. There needs to be a thorough review of the role of the universityin society and the economy – perhaps in the form of a RoyalCommission. This needs to include issues ranging from the In research related to high technology, this report has highlighted degree of involvement of business and civil society to patenting particular concerns about the balance between the commercialisation of the technologies and the investigation andmanagement of wider social and environmental impacts of thosetechnologies. Emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology Finally, although this report has not examined the wider issues and biotechnology based on synthetic biology, can be especially related to corporate behaviour and the economic system, these problematic due to the high level of uncertainty related to their should not be forgotten. The global financial crisis of late effects on humans and the environment. In particular, this report 2008/early 2009 has demonstrated in spectacular fashion the has highlighted biosafety and biosecurity concerns. major problems that can be caused by a key economic sector To address issues such as these, Demos has recommended that being under-regulated. Meanwhile, serious questions exist about a Commission on Emerging Technologies and Society be set up, whether the current economic system will push society beyond with its remit being to ensure thorough consideration at the policy environmental limits (see, for example, New Scientist 2008).
level (Wilsdon et al 2005). Another option is to allocate a Independent academic research, such as in the discipline of proportion (for example, 20 per cent) of the public funding ‘ecological economics', can provide vital analysis here. Such earmarked for emerging technologies to be spent on examining work needs to be expanded and taken more seriously by policy- and managing the potential social, health and environmental impacts of those technologies. One precedent in this area is the Science and technology have long been supported and funded longstanding practice in the USA – now starting to be applied in from a range of sources, including business. However, over the Europe – where the ‘ELSI' (Ethical, Legal, Social Issues) money is last two decades, economic goals have become dominant, both a fixed percentage on top of Federal grants. There are some through direct support from business and as a condition of state moves in this direction in the UK, but more needs to be done funding. This has led to a range of detrimental effects that are not especially in areas such as synthetic biology. One further option being adequately addressed (or, in some cases, even is the greater use of ethical codes of conduct in specific areas of acknowledged) by senior policy-makers. This urgently needs to research in emerging technologies. 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 78 Science and the corporate agenda References & further reading
Wellcome Trust (2009).
(all web links accessed June 2009) CFN (2009). Community Foundations Network website.
Wilsdon J, Wills R (2004). See Through Science. Demos, Fearn H (2008). Reach for the skies: applied research is half as lucrative. Times Higher Education, 13 November.
Wilsdon J, Wynne B, Stilgoe J (2005). The Public Value of Greenberg D (2007). Science for Sale: The perils, rewards and Science. Demos, London.
delusions of campus capitalism. University of Chicago Press.
House of Commons (2005). The influence of the pharmaceuticalindustry. House of Commons Health Committee. London: TheStationery Office.
Langley C (2005). Soldiers in the laboratory: militaryinvolvement in science & technology – and some alternatives.
Folkestone, UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility.
Langley C, Parkinson S & Webber P (2008). Behind closeddoors: Military influence, commercial pressures & thecompromised university. Folkestone, UK: Scientists for GlobalResponsibility.
Martin B R, Tang P (2007). The benefits from publicly fundedresearch. SEWPS Paper No: 161. Sussex: SPRU.
Michaels D (2008). Doubt is their product: How industry'sassault on science threatens your health. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.
New Scientist (2008). The folly of growth (special issue). 18October.
The Co-operative Bank (2009). Why we have ethical policies.
Smart Business? Initial proposals toward anethical framework for Open University partnerships. Universityand College Union (UCU) Branch Ethics Working Group, OpenUniversity.
Universities UK/ Cancer Research UK (2004). Tobacco industryfunding to universities: A joint protocol of Cancer Research andUniversities UK.
Documents/Research/ProtocolOnTobaccoIndustry.pdf Wakeford T, Wilson P, Shakespeare T, Hale F (2003). ThePeople's Report on GM. Policy, Ethics and Life SciencesResearch Institute (PEALS), University of Newcastle.
htm 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 79 Acronyms and abbreviations
American Association for the Advancement of Science American Enterprise Institute Arts & Humanities Research Council Association for the Study of Peak Oil British American Tobacco Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention carbon capture and storage contract research organisation civil society organisation Defence Aerospace Research Partnership Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills Department of Trade and Industry Environmental Protection Agency (USA) Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council Economic & Social Research Council Global Climate Coalition gross domestic product genetically modified/ genetic modification General Practitioner Global Science and Innovation Forum Higher Education Funding Council for England International Agency for Research on Cancer International Committee on Smoking Issues International Energy Agency Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change International Policy Network intellectual property rights Interdisciplinary Research Centre Ministry of Defence Medical Research Council Natural Environment Research Council new molecular entity National Science Foundation (USA) Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development public sector research establishment research and development restless legs syndrome social anxiety disorder Sense About Science science, engineering and technology Scientists for Global Responsibility sudden infant death syndrome selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors Science & Technology Facilities Council University Technology Centre World Health Organisation 6652:SGR 18/09/2009 14:39 Page 80 About this report
It is no secret that links between the commercial sectors and scienceand technology are increasing. Many policy-makers, businessleaders and members of the science community argue that this ispositive for both science and society. But there is growing evidencethat the science commercialisation agenda brings with it a widerange of detrimental effects, including bias, conflicts of interest, anarrowing of the research agenda, and misrepresentation ofresearch results. This report takes an in-depth look at the evidencefor these effects across five sectors: pharmaceuticals; tobacco;military/defence; oil and gas; and biotechnology. Its findings makedisturbing reading for all concerned about the positive role of scienceand technology in our society.
About Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR)
SGR promotes ethical science, design and technology, based on theprinciples of openness, accountability, peace, social justice, andenvironmental sustainability. Our work involves research, education,advocacy and providing a support network for ethically concernedscience, design and technology professionals. Founded in 1992, weare an independent UK-based non-profit organisation with over 1000members. SGR is affiliated to the International Network of Engineersand Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES).
Please help support SGR's work by becoming a member. For details, contact us at: Scientists for Global Responsibility Ingles Manor • Castle Hill Avenue • Folkestone • CT20 2RD • UK Tel: 01303 851965 • Email: ISBN 978-0-9549406-4-5
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