University sells out to corporate interests

Because of the general neglect in systemic analysis of the priorities at the University, I encourage all taxpayers to read my report, “Goldie X-Po$er: The State of Dis-Union.” This report highlights genetic engineering — a particularly timely “hidden-history” considering the University’s upcoming 150th anniversary. Free copies can be obtained by e-mailing [email protected] The results of my research make clear the simple rules of conduct at this outlet of unfortunately devastating imperial corporate-state action.
The University’s primary function is exactly what’s been recently called “tobacco science.” My research has exposed that there are over 350 different corporations “donating” tax-deductible finances at the University — including over 225 corporate-driven genetic engineering projects. With research costs tripling since the 1980 corporate “free lunch” laws, as Lawrence Soley documents in his “Leasing the Ivory Tower: The Corporate Takeover of Academia,” the University is now financially, as well as socially and environmentally, unaffordable.
Consider that Minnesota’s largest citizen-run environmental organization, Clean Water Action Alliance, was forced to resign this spring from the state agriculture (genetic engineering review board) because of the “Corporate U.” As the resignation letter states, “The institution responsible for conducting the research must be credible and one which inspires public confidence in the (genetic engineering review) process. We do not believe that the University is capable of such trust. Many already know that the University has had long and close ties with the livestock industry and corporate agribusiness. The University is viewed as an integral part of the problem.”
The recent dean of the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences, Mike Martin, exposes the true priorities of the University to be bold, elite marketing. In his lead Research Review, May 1998, article, “This University Must and Will Lead in Biotechnology Research,” Martin states: “The millers told our breeder, Jim Orf in Agronomy and Plant Genetics, that it would be a little better for them if the bean could be just a little bit bigger. Jim, a good biotechnologist, said, ‘for enough money I’ll make ’em the size of basketballs.'”
Martin continues in a context of glee, “We’ve acquired the rights to Monsanto’s Roundup-ready gene: You put the gene into a crop plant, plant the plant, blast the area with the weed-killer Roundup, and everything dies but the crop. In southern Minnesota, they raised a lot of Roundup-ready soybeans last year, and we’re working on Roundup-ready turf grass, Roundup-ready canola, and perhaps Roundup-ready barley.”
With concentrated corporate control comes unaccountability, and my report details a long list of white-collar crime indicative of the Corporate U. It’s to be expected, then, that Martin left the state while at the center of a scandal. Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge, DFL-New Hope, chair of the State Ethics Committee, stated, “Dean Martin has provided us now with two to three different accounts of the facts.” The alleged issue: State Sen. Dallas Sams was paid University funds ($12,500) to secure public funding ($1 million) that will be focused on corporate agriculture. Junge added that she “believe(s) that Dr. Martin was the center person in all of this.”
Tragically, the University’s image of sifting through the ethics of biotechnology is a blatant lie. For instance, the scientific hazards of rBGH, already pushed onto suicidal farmers and exploited consumers, was exposed recently by the distinguished Codex Alimentarius. The commission ruled unanimously that rBGH is unsafe on the grounds that the resulting milk has excessive levels of an insulin growth factor that is linked to spreading of various cancers, notably breast, prostate and colorectal. In the United States, 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women now get cancer. The University still has Monsanto tax-deductible financing of synthetic growth hormones on campus.
All of this might seem shocking, since the University constantly promotes an image of ethical analysis regarding genetic engineering technology. But the public continues to become guinea pigs to this fundamentally deadly technology, and the Corporate University does public relations damage control.
For the 25-year Celebration of the Women’s Studies Program, an anti-genetic engineering presentation was held, titled, “The Sacred Cow and the Mad Cow: metaphors of ecofeminism and technofeminism” by physicist and ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva, Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology.
Inherent dangers of genetic engineering include: genetically engineered potatoes, being poisonous and damaging to mammals; increased cancer risks from genetically engineered products; damage to food quality and nutrition, increased antibiotic resistance, increased pesticide residues, genetic pollution, damage to beneficial insects and soil fertility, creation of genetically engineered “superweeds” and “superpests,” creation of new viruses and pathogens, genetic “bio-invasion,” socioeconomic hazards and ethical hazards.
Because of Cargill’s genetic engineering partnership with Monsanto and Cargill’s invasive global corporate destruction, Shiva is part of a mass movement against Cargill and corporate capitalism. In 1996, this movement involved a march of 500,000 Indian farmers against corporate-controlled trade agreements and 1,000 farmers’ destruction of a Cargill factory and corporate records.
Shiva stated that Minnesota needs a democracy movement. We taxpayers of Minnesota, where Cargill is based, have a moral responsibility to act in compassion for self-reliant farmers worldwide. The public retains the constitutional right to revoke chartered entities (i.e. the University and corporations) when those entities are repeatedly violating the public good.
Drew Hempel is a Unviersity graduate student. He welcomes comments at [email protected]