INDEPENDENT NEWS

Scientists concerned about freedom of speech

Published: Fri 1 May 2009 05:30 PM
Media Release from NZ Association of Scientists
NZ Association of Scientists concerned about freedom of speech
The business model underlying Government's science institutions, the Crown Research Institutes or CRIs, is again under scrutiny following the dismissal of Jim Salinger, one of NIWA's principal scientists and a leading spokesperson for weather and climate issues.
The New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) vigorously supports scientists speaking freely in their areas of scientific expertise without inappropriate corporate constraints or threat of dismissal. Communicating scientific advances to the public and commenting publicly on relevant science issues is an essential part of the scientific process, particularly in non-commercial areas supported by the taxpayer. Scientific research and corporate models operating under commercial imperatives have been unhappy bedfellows since the science reforms in the early 1990s that set up the CRIs. Such business imperatives can undermine freedom of scientific expression.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Salinger's dismissal, NZAS strongly supports the right of scientists to speak out freely in their area of scientific expertise. Any underlying institutional problem with this issue should be addressed before serious damage occurs, either to our standing in the international science community, or to the public reputation of our scientists. Government is currently reviewing its science structures and NZAS believes that this review should include a reassessment of whether the current organizational structures are the most appropriate ones for the innovative science that New Zealand will need to address environmental, social, economic and human health issues in the years to come.
New Zealand Association of Scientists (http://nzas.rsnz.org/) is a nationwide association of practicing research scientists spanning the universities, technical institutes, Crown Research Institutes of Science NZ, government departments, industry, museums, and other science institutions.
ENDS

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