Scientists Loved and Loathed by an Agrochemical Giant

 

James Cresswell, a professor at the University of Exeter in England, has turned to less controversial areas of research on bees. Here, a bee is mounted on a wire in a wind tunnel, for research designed to estimate normal bee density. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Scientists Loved and Loathed by an Agrochemical Giant

With corporate funding of research, “There’s no scientist who comes out of this unscathed.”

By DANNY HAKIM 

EXETER, England — The bee findings were not what Syngenta expected to hear.

The pesticide giant had commissioned James Cresswell, an expert in flowers and bees at the University of Exeter in England, to study why many of the world’s bee colonies were dying. Companies like Syngenta have long blamed a tiny bug called a varroa mite, rather than their own pesticides, for the bee decline.

Dr. Cresswell has also been skeptical of concerns raised about those pesticides, and even the extent of bee deaths. But his initial research in 2012 undercut concerns about varroa mites as well. So the company, based in Switzerland, began pressing him to consider new data and a different approach. Read more.