The College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley, and
Novartis, the Swiss chemical and biotechnology giant, have created what has been termed a
"strategic alliance." We have profound reservations about the appropriateness of
such an alliance between a private corporation and a public university and about the blind
rush to embrace potentially dangerous biotechnology that such an alliance implies.
Furthermore, the process of drafting and implementing the alliance has been deaf to the
concerns of most students and faculty, and administrator(s) may be placing personal
We request that a review be conducted on the long-term academic, fiscal, and ethical
implications of university-industry alliances of this magnitude. We believe that the
University of California, as a world leader in research and education, has the
responsibility to establish comprehensive and conservative standards for including
for-profit corporations in the research and teaching components of a public university.
Read the details of the alliance, and the chronology of past events concerning the alliance.
Our concerns with the Novartis agreement are:
|Public university - private corporation partnerships: This
is an alliance between a public land-grant institution - which is charged with teaching
the states students, conducting public-good research, and extending information to
the people of the state - with a private company, which has as its main goal the creation
of profit. We believe that creating such an alliance is in direct conflict with our
mission as a public university and that establishing such a precedent, on such a large
scale, is dangerous. This may harm the reputation of CNR and its ability to attract top
faculty and students interested in sustainable agriculture. The alliance itself will have
significant and, we believe, negative impacts on teaching and research in the College of
|The process of developing and implementing the alliance has
excluded the concerns of students and faculty numerous times. |
|Genetic engineering: By creating an alliance with Novartis, the
College of Natural Resources implicitly supports the basic goals of Novartis. These
include controversial directions such as biotechnology and genetic engineering. In
contrast, many faculty and students of CNR believe that the mission of the College - to
develop agriculture that is sustainable and is safe for humans and ecosystems - is best
achieved through less reliance on industrial agriculture. At the very least, we should
proceed cautiously and thoroughly explore the potential negative consequences of
genetically engineered crops before rushing headlong into another untested technology.|
|Dean Rausser: The Dean raised eyebrows a couple years ago
when he made millions when the consulting company that he co-founded went public, and
again when it was bought in a merger. He continues to consult part time, and his income
there is much greater than as Dean. The company, and Mr. Rausser in particular, specialize
in corporate mergers, intellectual property, and agribusiness - just the skills that were
improved in creating this alliance. We feel there may be a conflict of interests.|
From the desk of the Dean:
Below are three pieces written by CNR Dean Gordon Rausser. These are at our web site in
order to establish a more open and unbiased forum, at the request of the Dean.
*We clearly disagree with Dean Rausser about the implications of the Novartis alliance.
However, this piece contains a misstatement. Our two petitions last fall had about 150 and
350 signatures, not the 47 that Dean Rausser asserts. Click here
to see 120 of the names that we typed in.