As public funding for university research has dried up, private industry money has poured in. And with industry money comes industry priorities.
In a windowless conference room, epidemiologist Steve Wing was frantically blacking out chunks of his own research.
Wing had been working on a study looking into the impacts of industrial-scale hog operations on health for the University of North Carolina. But the state’s Pork Council had caught wind of the research, and filed a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) to gain access to his findings. “They went after Steve, asking him to turn over any documentation. They went directly to the university and got the lawyers to try and make him hand it over,” says Naeema Muhammad, one of Wing’s community partners.
Wing had promised the community members who had spoken to him that he’d protect their privacy. Revealing even a few basic details could have compromised their identities.