Thoughts from a broken mind
The highly respected publishing group Oxford University Press (OUP), which is considered to be the largest university press in the world, appears to be actively diluting its rigorous publishing standards at the behest of corporate interests. A recent report by Frances Moore Lappe over at AlterNet explains how one OUP published book in particular that promotes the use of genetically-modified (GM) crops lacks even basic citations — and OUP apparently sees absolutely nothing wrong with this.
Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know by Robert Paarlberg claims to take an honest look at major issues of relevance concerning food production in the modern world, including matters of food shortages and safety, agricultural technology, factory farming, and GMOs. But when it comes right down to it, Paarlberg’s book lacks even basic references to any sort of concrete evidence whereby readers can fact check and verify his many claims.
“The book’s subtitle suggests coverage of essential food issues and its back cover indicates Food Politics is not just another example of ‘conflicting claims and accusations from advocates,’ but rather ‘maps this contested terrain,’” writes Lappe. “Yet, I was finding only one piece of the ‘map’ with key issues at the center of the global food debate omitted altogether.”
While expressing his support for GM crop systems and vouching for their supposed safety throughout the book, Paarlberg fails to disclose the fact that he used to be an advisor to Monsanto’s CEO, according to Lappe. Paarlberg also gives a shout out to the infamous Gates Foundation for supporting his work, also failing to mention that the Gates Foundation has a vested, financial interest in Monsanto, having invested in the company back in 2010. (
The lack of proper citations and deliberate non-disclosure of the author’s potential conflicts of interest should have raised some serious red flags for OUP when publishing Food Politics. But it appears as though OUP, like much of modern academia, has been heavily influenced by Big Ag interests, which are apparently eroding its integrity.
When questioned by Lappe about the many apparent problems in the book, the heads of both OUP in New York and OUP in England insisted that the book met the publishing group’s standards. In both instances, OUP officials refused to meet with Lappe to discuss the issue further.
This is hardly surprising in light of the fact that many agricultural research institutions across the U.S. have also been taken over by the likes of Monsanto, and now promote corporate agricultural interests at the expense of incubating honest inquiry into good crop practices. (
Even though OUP is not an agricultural group by any means, its publishing standards appear to be following the same toxic route as many other institutions of higher learning that are becoming nothing more than mouthpieces for the biotechnology industry.
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