Safeguards Essential To Maintain Academic Integrity In Proposed $500 Million BP Deal
San Francisco, CA — The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) today called on the UC Regents to adopt safeguards to prevent oil giant BP from using a $500 million research deal to turn Cal Berkeley into “UCBP.”
“The faculty senate adopted a toothless resolution without real oversight of the proposed deal,” said John M. Simpson, an FTCR advocate. “Now the Regents must act to defend the academic integrity of one of the nation’s premier public institutions.”
The Regents are meeting on the UCSF Mission Bay campus.
UC Berkeley is planning a $500-million research deal with BP aimed at creating new technologies for carbon-neutral fuel. The deal would create the Energy Biosciences Institute. ExxonMobil has a similar deal with Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Program, funding that research program with a grant of $100 million. The BP/Berkeley deal envisions 50 BP scientists doing proprietary — or secret — research on campus.
FTCR told the Regents that if BP and the university decide upon a partnership some minimum standards must be met. They include:
— The University of California should control the direction and the results of the research.
— Any patented discoveries should be licensed to all comers on a non-exclusive basis.
— Secret proprietary research should not be allowed on campus.
— Any BP marketing efforts using Berkeley’s name should be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Regents themselves.
Professors at universities should have academic freedom to pursue their research wherever it may lead them, FTCR said, but such freedom rests on the premise that it is unbiased and not tainted by a vested interest of a funder.
Simpson told the Regents they must recognize, as noted in the Statement on Academic Freedom from the First Global Colloquium of University Presidents, that “the pressures and lures of commercial initiatives and alliances… can seriously threaten the autonomy of universities and the academic freedom of faculty and students.”
“Simply put, the Regents must make it clear they won’t let Berkeley become ‘UCBP,'” Simpson said. “Californians deserve nothing less.”
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