Corporate agriculture doesn't control universities

  I would like to compliment Sam Western on a well-written and insightful article (HCN, 12/26/05: A New Green Revolution). However, I am curious about the origin of the erroneous statement in the sidebar concerning universities and organic research: "While the Legislature provides some funding, companies such as Dow, Syngenta and Monsanto fund most of the agricultural research that is done at land-grant universities."

I’ve worked in conventional agriculture research for the last seven years at Montana State University and never received a penny from an agricultural company source. Some programs at MSU do receive corporate support for testing or development of specific products, but typically it’s a very minor proportion of their research funding. Overall, I doubt that contributions from corporate agriculture exceed 1 or 2 percent at MSU.

The Montana Ag Experiment Station funding remains critical to the research and education mission at MSU’S College of Agriculture, to the tune of several million dollars annually. The applied agricultural research mission at a land-grant university largely depends on this state support (which is overmatched federally). In fact, this past fall, there was a political move to reduce federal funding dramatically through the national Ag Experiment Station. Had that occurred, Montana producers would scarcely recognize the skeletal remains of the ag research mission.

Perry Miller, Associate Professor of Cropping Systems, Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana