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About Independent Science News

Why Independent Science News?
Scientific facts are not always what they seem. Whether it’s counting the future world population, quantifying the deaths following Chernobyl, preventing independent research on GMOs, or determining the safety or the effectiveness of just about any product, including pharmaceuticals and basic foodstuffs, or even identifying the root causes of human disease, powerful interests routinely succeed in influencing science: what is studied, what is published, and what is reported. When that happens, individuals (or policymakers) no longer have the information to decide rationally and choose thoughtfully. Society becomes dysfunctional at a fundamental level.

Manipulation of science can be surprisingly easy. That is because, at every level within it, important decisions are typically not transparent (even to other scientists). Manipulation is also aided because of science’s protective mythology of impartiality and rigour that deters questioning by outsiders. Manipulation therefore often occurs unnoticed.

But even less noted is that the most enduring and damaging manipulations of science concern the suppression (or invention) of scientific ideas. Selected key ideas, chosen for their potential to constrain future thinking, are sometimes promoted and inflated with the precise intention of furthering private agendas.

Perhaps the most stunning example of this is how corporations and governments have conspired to create a genetic determinist understanding of society, even though the evidence to support that view is missing. They have sought to manufacture a public consensus that genes (and not junk food, pesticides or poor public policies) are chiefly to blame for ill heath, inequality and social dysfunction. Thus from the 1950s onwards the tobacco industry (at first alone) massively funded human genetic research in an attempt to shift blame for tobacco-related illnesses onto purported genetic predispositions (i.e. individuals). This repeatedly shifted legal and public policy attention away from the activities of the companies themselves. Without its secret manipulation of genetic research it is likely the tobacco industry would not exist today. In a separate example, the efficacy of animal experimentation has for many years been grossly exaggerated by chemical corporations who need a scientific reassurance to offer to a population that is exposed to and contaminated by their products. Note a key point: that in both cases this type of manipulation is hard to detect because the specific ideas (genes cause disease; animal experiments work) appear politically neutral and are not associated with any product or organization. The ultimate intent of such deceptive ideas (more examples below) is to constrain public thought and shift opinion into narrow bounds amenable to those powerful interests. This permits (for example) politicians to “rationally” declare that there is no alternative to a chosen policy when in fact the arguments in favour are based on a hidden ideology. This is all necessary because, as Abraham Lincoln said, “With public opinion nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed”

Examples of science journalists exposing deceit and manipulation are rare. They are rare mostly (though not entirely) because science reporters, even at Science magazine and the New York Times, see themselves less as investigative journalists and more as explainers of science. Such journalists typically lack the independence, the public interest focus, and often the expertise, to contextualise scientific results and penetrate the inner logic of institutional agendas that are now necessary to explain much of science.

In no field of human endeavour is this more true or more important than in the subjects covered by Independent Science News (ISN): health, food and agriculture.

Therefore, the two aims of ISN are to call attention to defects in science and in the science media and to remedy them as far as possible.

ISN chooses its stories carefully. Most concern simultaneous manipulations of the scientific process, the food/ag system, and the science media, that span decades. These stories are deep: they have evolved slowly, have often cost their perpetrators hundreds of millions (sometimes hundreds of billions) of dollars to organize, and required extensive research to uncover and understand. Consequently, we encourage readers to look at older stories from ISN. If it is true that in order to remedy a system it is necessary to understand that system then readers will find these stories every bit as interesting and original as the newer ones. The remarkable facts and conclusions have in every case stood the test of time. All stories are ongoing. Just possibly you have new information on them. If so, please contact us.

We particularly recommend the following ISN articles as guides to continuing global events:

1. The mass co-option of well-known international conservation non-profits by the corporate food system: Way Beyond Greenwashing.

2. The bankrolling of genetic determinism and human genomics to conceal environmental causes of ill health: The Great DNA Data Deficit; Psychiatrists Plea to Continue Funding of Genetic Approaches; Still Chasing Ghosts; Science as Social Control.

3. The active misleading of the public by the science media: How the Science Media Failed the IAASTD; What is Nature Biotechnology Good For?; Fakethrough!.

4. The truth about the usefulness of animal experiments: The Experiment Is on Us.

5. Collusion between scientific publications and the life science industry: Strangely Like Fiction (about rBGH); The Goodman Affair.

6. False agribusiness claims about the safety and performance of GMO food and crops:  Bee Learning Behaviour Affected by GMO Toxins; Roundup-Ready to Yield?;Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops.

Independent Science News relies entirely on the generous support of our readers. Here is why. It does not accept commercial advertisements or funding. ISN is part of the Bioscience Resource Project. Click here for up-to-date information about our funding sources. We welcome support of a financial, and non-financial nature.

To receive our articles when they come out, send an email to: info ( at )bioscienceresource.org or subscribe to our mailing list on the home page.

“The only security of all is in a free press” – Thomas Jefferson

“I know not any crime so great that a man could contrive to commit as poisoning the sources of eternal truth.” – Dr. Johnson

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Why Independent Science News?

Scientific inventions and ideas shape the future. As science becomes ever more beset by commercial and ideological pressures, there is urgent need for scientific reporting and analysis from an independent, expert, public interest perspective. With this standard, Independent Science News works to shape a future that is biodiverse, just, and healthy for everyone.
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Commentaries

Edward Snowden’s Testimony to the European Parliament on NSA Spying and its Consequences

Edward Snowden Barton Gellman/Getty Images

Independent Science News has decided to reprint (1) in full the March 7th testimony of Edward Snowden to the European Parliament. Snowden’s testimony is vitally important for every citizen in every country to understand, yet it has barely been covered by the commercial or (non-commercial) global media. At stake is the …

The Health Care Doctors Forgot: Why Ordinary Food Will Be the Future of Medicine

Apple and a Pear

by T Colin Campbell, Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus, Cornell University The problem Few issues have become so intensely debated and politically charged as the need to reform the health care system. This debate has resulted in the ObamaCare program (The Affordable Care Act), which aims to expand and improve …

Fakethrough! GMOs and the Capitulation of Science Journalism

Biotechnology

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Good journalism examines its sources critically, it takes nothing at face value, places its topics in a historical context, and it values above all the public interest. Such journalism is, most people agree, essential to any equitable and open system of government. These statements about journalism …

The Founding Fables of Industrialised Agriculture

Farming in Italy

by Colin Tudge Governments these days are not content with agriculture that merely provides good food. In line with the dogma of neoliberalism they want it to contribute as much wealth as any other industry towards the grand goal of “economic growth”. High tech offers to reconcile the two ambitions …

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Reviews

Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA

Biology as Ideology

Author: by Richard Lewontin ISBN: 0140232192 Publisher: Penguin books (1991) Biologists know that complex traits are typically associated with genetic variation between individuals. Nevertheless, if we hear on the news that obesity, antisocial behaviour or some other disorder has a strong genetic component, we are likely to attach special significance …

The Unsettling of America

The Unsettling of America

Author: Wendell Berry ISBN: 0871568772 Publisher: Sierra Club books (1977) In 2002, peasant associations from all over Asia organised an international scientific conference. The motivation for the conference was the fact that peasants and their leaders had no dialogue with agricultural scientists, either from their own countries or with those …

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