The Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires companies to report monies and gifts they give physicians, which are known to influence what doctors prescribe or promote. Thanks to the Sunshine Act, you can look up doctors on a public database to see who is paying them and how much. Several other countries have passed or are considering similar laws.

Nothing similar exists in other disciplines like plant biology, climate science, or toxicology. We need a “sunshine law” for science that would expose all sorts of conflicts of interest and industry manipulation that skew research on food, synthetic chemicals, pesticides, air pollution, genetic technology, and the climate.

Since the 1990s, tobacco and the industries allied with it, such as the food, chemical, and fossil fuel sectors, have worked especially hard to influence a field called risk analysis, which determines whether products cause harm. The agri-chemical giant Monsanto has been accused in recent years of manipulating employees at the Environmental Protection Agency on the dangers of glyphosate; petrochemical companies publish questionable studies on air pollution in corporate-friendly journals; and biotech lobbyists promote news stories that attack government agencies. The fossil fuel industry has also funded research departments at prestigious American universities, including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and UC Berkeley. Most of the climate science community remains silent on this, but two students at Princeton recently exposed how their university has been influenced by companies such as ExxonMobil and BP, which spend paltry sums funding academics to buy social credibility — even as they pour enormous amounts into lobbying against bills that limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate science and other research fields need to catch up and show greater transparency in corporate funding. Corporations have been influencing science for as long as science has informed public health policies. The more sunlight we can let shine on that influence, the better.

Read the full article about corporate influence in science by Paul D. Thacker at Grist.