Nader says ISU tied too close to biotech

David Frost

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader criticized Iowa State for its close ties to the biotechnology industry during a campaign stop in Iowa.

During his visit to the State Capitol in Des Moines Friday, Nader said the tax money Iowa State gets as a land-grant institution goes toward biotechnology research that indirectly benefits the industry.

“A university should be an independent source of critical thinking and research,” Nader said during his speech.

Jeremy Varner, president of Students for Nader, said the research conducted at the university is geared toward corporate interests, but the research yields neutral knowledge in the field.

“Iowa State has always had a tendency to gravitate toward corporate dollars, which does affect the research of the college,” said Varner, senior in history. “They tailor their research to what corporations want so they can get more money. The college was created to have an unbiased knowledge of the various agriculture and science fields.”

Nader criticized the university’s new Plant Sciences Institute, saying it would leave less room for the college to focus on organic, sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming methods.

Robert Lowry, associate professor of political science, said a major part of Nader’s platform reflects the Green Party’s opposition to corporate control.

“Nader might be trying to get the students riled up so the student groups will help his campaign, but the general theme of Nader’s campaign is corporate control interwoven to control all kinds of things,” he said.

Varner said Nader has much support in Iowa.

“I think Nader is doing very well in Iowa, especially in Iowa City. The Democrats are trying to sway Nader voters back to the Democrats, but Nader people are not fooled,” Varner said.

During Nader’s speech in Des Moines, he disputed the idea that he is taking away Democratic support from Democratic candidate Al Gore.

“People should vote their conscience,” Varner said. “I don’t consider a vote for Nader a vote for Bush. The two major candidates are similar on many policy issues — there needs to be a good grassroots campaign to change the two parties.”

Although Nader is a third-party candidate who is not likely to win the election, Lowry said, people who vote for Nader know their votes could affect the outcome of the election.

“There is probably some truth to Bush-vote theory, but people are doing it freely,” he said. “I am sure they realize that Nader is not going to win and Bush might because of their vote, but they are doing it freely, so I don’t see the argument that Nader should drop out of the race.”