Have you signed the #Science14 letter yet?

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A word cloud of the current signatories!
A word cloud of the current signatories!

Two weeks ago, I announced that the Cornell Alliance for Science and Biology Fortified co-sponsored an open letter to the professors and academic scientists who were targeted by the US Right to Know (USRTK) organization, seeking to read over two years of their correspondence. Our goal is to reach 1,400 signatures – 100 for every scientist who has been targeted with a FoIA. And we are less than 100 signatures away from that goal! Have you taken the time to sign it yet? We need your voice.

I have seen many familiar names amongst the signatures. I understand if you haven’t gotten to signing the letter yet – but now is the hour we most need you! Despite announcing the letter, I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t signed the letter until now! The day after the letter went online, I embarked on a 10 11-day trip that I’m still decompressing from. Well there’s no excuse waiting any longer to compose a proper message to the Science14. Here is my signature!

Our world faces many challenges, and we need science to be able to address them. We need scientists who can both conduct the necessary research, and who can also communicate the science to the public. Public scientists at universities are especially important because they are educators and because they have the academic freedom to pursue knowledge and disseminate it with confidence.

The USRTK FoIA filings have been made against at least fourteen academic scientists and professors with the intent to undermine their role as biotechnology scientist-communicators. USRTK has called them “shills” but has also told me that they have no evidence of wrongdoing. They are engaging in a fishing trip to fuel the next round of gutter politics. The abuse of FoIA laws for political agendas and vendettas against these scientists is a deeply troubling development. It promises to stifle academic freedom, silence scientists, and deter young academics from educating and inspiring the next generation. This far-reaching impact is deplorable and must be prevented.

I stand with the Science14 and any campaign of this kind against scientists. I wish to express my support for their work, and tell all of them that I will do what I can to push this in the opposite direction. I will become a more prolific scientist-communicator. I will encourage more young scientists to join this effort. It is right. It is important. And together we must not let dirty politics hijack and abuse the science and the scientists who bring the science to the public. I’m proud to stand with the Science14.

Karl Haro von Mogel, Ph.D.

It is not too late to add your voice. Your signature and message will be printed out and delivered to the scientists who have been targeted by this political attack. Sign the letter and Stand with the Science14.

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Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.