Since George makes reference to Science's coverage of this story, I have attached the four most relevant stories that the magazine published. To me, they seem an good example of balanced reporting, giving both sides of the story and making the news judgement that Chapela's victory in the tenure battle was worthy of note. Whether or not folks here agree that Science's coverage was balanced, it seems clear that there is a legitimate debate over whether the original research was correct or not. And yes, ultimately science has to be brought to bear on that kind of question.
Yesterday I went to a so-called Conferencia, Los Maices Criollos y la Contaminación Transgénica in the library of the ethnobotanical garden here, a shameless affair with someone from the U of C Santa Barbara presenting a supposed statistical demonstration that Ignacio Chapela and David Quist were wrong and Ortiz-(something or other) et al were correct. There is no significant contamination of corn in Oaxaca!! This Doctora Daniela Soleri from Santa Barbara never mentioned a word about the whole Novartis, Nature Magazine, tenure struggle, telling the campesino-free audience that the question she was addressing was how can science benefit society, as though it was merely a question of science, a sacred disciplinary cow apart from the rest of society. I challenged her with my lousy Spanish, but not very successfully. She ended up asserting that no one was paying her (I had not asked her that, but who was the patron for the apparently very large scale Ortis- et al study, but she never answered the question), and said she was confident there was no conspiracy. So don't worry folks, she assured the middle-class audience. Just enjoy your tamales, tortillas and tlayudas. Anyway, John, I tried to search for the so-called News of the Week article in that great and neutral magazine Science that the Santa Barbara researcher had used in her powerpoint presentation, and came upon your excellent article at http://www.theava.com/04/0218-chapela.html . Nit-picker that I am, I think there's a misprint in the following quote of Ignacio's words:
"My gut reaction was that the company was trying to buy the university. I knew all about that. In fact, I had tried to do the same thing with the Scripps Institute in San Diego when Novartis first decided it needed a West Coast beachhead." That I should of course be 'it', no?
I really envy your ability to hang on to so much good, detailed, relevant information. You're a powerhouse, John.