Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interests

Recent discussion of how funding sources influence published results remind me to share a conflict of interest statement, short as it is.

I earn my keep teaching at Tufts University, which is a financial interest sufficiently strong that I could be influenced by it in covering any U.S. food policy issues that affected university interests.

Grant proposals I have written bring in some external funding to my employer, mostly from USDA. These research funds do not affect my salary, but they are viewed favorably by my employer and could affect my long term career prospects. They could suffice to make me write more delicately on some USDA topics, but I do my best to be impartial.

For report refereeing or small research tasks, I have received $2,000 or less from USDA, University of Michigan, Research Triangle Institute, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and Simmons College. I believe these honoraria do not influence my writing.

I have biases on many topics in U.S. food policy, mostly but not uniformly in a liberal or progressive direction, sometimes in a mainstream economics direction. These biases originate from long deliberation, not financial interest, and I do my best to remain impartial and fair.

The blog itself accepts no advertising and gets no funding, nor does it have any expenses. I accept no product samples, and have not even accepted free books to review.

Nobody asked, but it seems good policy to share such information before being asked.

2 comments:

Wendy said...

hi parke,

since you are discussing potential influences on your research, I was wondering if you would kindly share with your readers the rationale behind the 'public interest perspective' phrase on your blog page?

Thank you, Wendy

Parke Wilde said...

The contrast is between the public interest and special or particular interests.

To take just one example, agricultural policy is most heavily influenced by farm sector interests, and the trade press covers news related to those interests, even though most Americans are in the non-farm sector. The blog is designed to cover agricultural policy topics relevant to the interests of both farmers and the food consuming public.

Similarly, many controversies in food policy pit well-organized producer interests against loosely-organized consumer interests that reflect a larger fraction of the public. The blog is designed to provide news and commentary relevant to both groups, approximately in proportion to their share of the population.