Former Berkeley professor fights biotech industry

Former University of California at Berkeley professor and one-time biotech supporter Ignacio Chapela is fighting against what he alleges are huge sums of money being used by the biotech industry to influence research at U.S. universities. After what he says was a coordinated PR push by the industry, the science journal Nature abandoned support for his research into GM crop contamination in Mexico, which it had previously published. After that, Chapela objected strenuously when his university was offered $50 million by GM giant Novartis. For that, and for the Nature kerfuffle, Chapela was essentially shown the door. In addition to working on taking Berkeley to court to publicize its questionable donors, he is leading a broader fight for academic freedom, claiming that many more universities have been “hijacked” and that science as a whole is suffering because of it. Says Chapela, “We have no option but to keep challenging it.”