In my inaugural post, I wrote that the integrity and independence of the $500 million biofuels research partnership between BP (formerly British Petroleum) and UC Berkeley would depend on whether the university "can build in rigorous safeguards against corporate influence." Too late. On HuffPo, Al Meyerhoff, a former NRDC attorney with experience taking on corporate influence at Berkeley, reads the fine print:
The BP deal even takes this questionable marriage one step further than most. After shameful disclosures in the LA Times and elsewhere about their giving up millions in patent royalties, Universities now usually hold the intellectual property rights to their research. And they license their results to more than one company. Not this time. BP will actually co-own and may even get exclusive rights to these licenses paid for with your tax dollar. They will also get to charge you monopoly prices for resulting consumer products. But why shouldn't they?
After all, 50 of their own scientists will be working right on campus.
Corporate science-for-hire dominates the private consulting world, and has already seriously eroded the integrity of both government and academic research. The loss of public trust in science is the tragic result.