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Beaker

The unholy trinity of industry, government and academics : "just study something industry would fund"

Here's what happens when corporations begin to control education.

Degrees
© Shutterstock/mostafa fawzy
"When I approached professors to discuss research projects addressing organic agriculture in farmer's markets, the first one told me that 'no one cares about people selling food in parking lots on the other side of the train tracks,'" said a PhD student at a large land-grant university who did not wish to be identified. "My academic adviser told me my best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer's markets were stocked with 'black market vegetables' that 'are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.' It was communicated to me on more than one occasion throughout my education that I should just study something Monsanto would fund rather than ideas to which I was deeply committed. I ended up studying what I wanted, but received no financial support, and paid for my education out of pocket."

Unfortunately, she's not alone. Conducting research requires funding, and today's research follows the golden rule: The one with the gold makes the rules.

A report just released by Food and Water Watch examines the role of corporate funding of agricultural research at land grant universities, of which there are more than 100. "You hear again and again Congress and regulators clamoring for science-based rules, policies, regulations," says Food and Water Watch researcher Tim Schwab, explaining why he began investigating corporate influence in agricultural research. "So if the rules and regulations and policies are based on science that is industry-biased, then the fallout goes beyond academic articles. It really trickles down to farmer livelihoods and consumer choice."

Dollar

Monsanto Funds College Research: Big Ag 101 - Playing at a Campus Near You

Lab students
© Unknown
When government officials insist on making science-based decisions in food and agricultural policy, what happens when the research is increasingly funded by huge corporations with a vested interest in the results? According to a new report by GAP coalition partner Food & Water Watch, almost 25 percent of agricultural research funding at land-grant universities came from private donations in 2010.

This is a far cry from the original public mission of land-grant universities when they were launched in 1862 - to generate agricultural research that benefitted farmer livelihoods as well as consumers. Then, the research was almost entirely funded by state and federal governments. But the report explains how in the 1980s, federal policies began encouraging schools to partner with the private sector, whose funding of Ag research eventually surpassed USDA funding. Now, the relationship between industry and Ag programs at land-grant universities is incredibly interwoven. From the report:

Land-grant universities today depend on industry to underwrite research grants, endow faculty chairs, sponsor departments and finance the construction of new buildings.

Just this week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that everyone's favorite biotech behemoth, Monsanto, has allotted $250,000 to an agricultural communications chair position at the University of Illinois, which will run a new degree program between the College of Media and College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The goal is "to help graduates better convey the challenges and technologies of modern farming," no doubt a move to endorse large-scale agriculture and genetically engineered food - on exactly what Monsanto profits are based.

Yoda

Great-grandma: Ready to 'lose' my life protesting

 Nan Wigmore, 75, brought a walker and a sign to Chicago to protest at the NATO summit.
© Miranda Leitsinger/msnbc
Nan Wigmore, 75, brought a walker and a sign to Chicago to protest at the NATO summit.
Chicago, Illinois -- Nan Wigmore brought her walker and packed her sign, "Grateful Great Grandmas Circle The Wagons, Support Occupy," and rode on a bus for some three days, sleeping in the same clothes, to make it to the NATO protests in Chicago.

The 75-year-old from Portland, Ore., says she couldn't imagine being anywhere else despite the discomfort of her journey.

"My feelings are too deep to keep me in my old comfortable place, so I had to learn some new things and that means to move out of my comfort zone," Wigmore said as she sipped a hot chocolate late Friday after a few hundred protesters met at a downtown Chicago plaza in the lead-up to the two-day summit that begins Sunday.

Dollar

Marc Faber: Looming Global Catastrophe?

The biggest bear of all, Dr. Doom (Marc Faber), discusses the future of the euro and whether a global catastrophe is on the way


Dollar

No happy ending for the Eurozone debt crisis

debt crisis
© Chris Madden
This week we bring back Alasdair Macleod, publisher of Finance and economics.org, because, as he puts it "every horror that we discussed last time we spoke is coming about". Especially scary since our previous conversation with him was less than three weeks ago...

Today's interview continues building on his excellent synopsis from last month that detailed the origins of the Eurozone crisis. The fundamental shortcomings warned of at the Euro's creation in 1997, combined with the excessive sovereign debts run up since then, have finally expressed themselves at a scale too large to be contained any longer.

Today, Alasdair details in-depth the huge and serious challenges facing Greece and the major Eurozone countries, and the likely impacts of the fast-dwindling options left remaining.

He sees no happy ending to this story, no outcome in which serious pain and permanent behavior change can be avoided. And for those looking for shelter from the unfolding economic storm, he sees few options besides the precious metals (which he believes are severely under priced at the moment):

Che Guevara

People Power: Youth protest former Mexican ruling party's rise in mass demonstration

mexico demonstration
© AP Photo/Marco Ugarte
Thousands of college-age demonstrators arrive at the Angel of Independence monument at the end of a march to protest a possible return of the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, Saturday, May 19, 2012. PRI presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto is said to lead in polls ahead of the July 1 elections.
Mexico City - Thousands of college-age demonstrators marched down Mexico City's main boulevard Saturday to protest a possible return of the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, which held Mexico's presidency without interruption from 1929 to 2000.

PRI presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto leads in polls ahead of the July 1 election, but he was heckled by young protesters during a recent appearance at a university. Students blamed him for a violent crackdown on protesters outside Mexico City in 2006. Later, some PRI members suggested the hecklers weren't really students, further enflaming passions.


Comment: Anyone familiar with Mexico's shameful history of fraudulent elections knows that the polls are routinely tampered with in favor of the candidate who has been appointed to win; usually the candidate of PRI. Recently, Mexican newspaper Milenio published a poll on its website that gave a wide lead to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the candidate of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) - only to replace it a few hours later by figures that gave Pena Nieto the lead.


In a move unusual for Mexico, the demonstrators did not carry banners for any of the other three candidates in the presidential race, instead shouting slogans against what they don't want, a return of the PRI, whose 71-year-rule was marked by repression, corruption and periodic economic crises.

Light Saber

Government backtracks on fracking

The fracking plant in Lancashire which has been blamed for earth tremors
© Getty
The fracking plant in Lancashire which has been blamed for earth tremors
Ministers decide there is not enough gas under UK to justify controversial 'earthquake' drilling


The Government has rejected shale gas technology as a solution to Britain's energy crisis, conceding it will do little to cut bills or keep the lights on.

Supporters of the fracking technology - which blasts water, sand and chemicals at extreme pressures to release gas trapped deep in rock - argue it could be the single greatest factor in transforming Britain's energy market, reducing our reliance on foreign imports and dramatically reducing costs.

But The Independent on Sunday has learned that industry experts made clear at a meeting attended by senior ministers, including David Cameron and Ed Davey, the Lib Dem energy secretary, that the UK's reserves were smaller than first thought and could be uneconomical to extract.

Now senior coalition figures have agreed that shale gas has the potential to be deeply controversial without securing major benefits in lowering carbon emissions or reducing energy costs.

Heart

Rankin Paynter Buys Everything in Kentucky Kmart, Gives it to Needy

Image
Besides having a super-cool name, Rankin Paynter may just be the coolest man in Kentucky. When Paynter heard that the Kmart in his hometown was closing its doors, he got to work.

He entered the store, went for his wallet and bought everything in sight.

And when we say everything, we mean the entire $200,000 worth of inventory the store had left. And then -- here's the best part -- he gave it all away to Clark County Community Services, a nonprofit that helps families in Winchester, Kentucky.

Paynter's reasoning was rather simple: "It's time to give back."

Wow. According to news reports, the gift of goods was the largest donation the nonprofit group ever received. And, thanks to one man, the local children in need will have enough coats and hats during the next winter.

According to MSNBC: Paynter, who runs a jewelry-exchange business known as Rankin Paynter Buying Center, also rented out a building to store all the items.

Bad Guys

NATO Activists "disappeared" Without Warrant or Charges, Claims Lawyers Guild

National Lawyers Guild spokesman Kris Hermes says Chicago police officers unjustly raided a Bridgeport apartment complex on Wednesday evening and detained several people without cause.

Pills

BigPharma and Wall Street Profit from the Drugging of Children and Elderly

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© cchrint.org
Pediatric psychopharmacology is a billion-dollar business that sustains Pharma and Pharma investors on Wall Street.

In his book Psychiatryland, psychiatrist Phillip Sinaikin recounts reading a scientific article in which it was debated whether a three-year-old girl who ran out into traffic had oppositional-defiant disorder or bipolar disorder, the latter marked by "grandiose delusions" that she was special and cars could not harm her.1

How did the once modest medical specialty of child psychiatry become the aggressive "pediatric psychopharmacology" that finds ADHD, pediatric conduct disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, mixed manias, social phobia, anxiety, sleep disorders, borderline disorders, assorted "spectrum" disorders, irritability, aggression, pervasive development disorders, personality disorders, and even schizophrenia under every rock? And how did this branch of psychiatry come to find the answer to the "psychopathologies" in the name of the discipline itself: pediatric psychopharmacology? Just good marketing. Pharma is wooing the pediatric patient because that's where the money is. Just like country and western songs about finding love where you can when there is no love to be found at home. Pharma has stopped finding "love" in the form of the new blockbuster drugs that catapulted it through the 1990s and 2000s. According to the Wall Street Journal, new drugs made Pharma only $4.3 billion in 2010 compared with $11.8 billion in 2005 - a two-thirds drop.2