The controversy over what may be the largest corporate/academic research pact in the history of American universities is headed back to UC Berkeley’s Academic Senate.
Despite an earlier statement by Senate President William Drummond that the body needed no further consultation about the proposed $500 million, 10-year pact between the university and BP (the renamed British Petroleum), the Senate will conduct a two-hour special session on the topic April 19.
The meeting begins at 1 p.m. in Booth Auditorium at Boalt Hall.
Meanwhile, members of the university’s Graduate Assembly voted Thursday night for their own call for a review of the proposed pact that would tie the university to the oil giant.
The assembly voted to direct its officers to meet with Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to discuss creation of a funding pool separate from the BP-funded Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) to research the impact of biofuels on the environment, geopolitics and ethics.
Critics like Professors Miguel Altieri and Ignacio Chapela have charged that the push to devote acreage to grow crops to create fuels for cars, trucks and buses would deprive Third World nations of land needed to feed themselves.
The students also sought to create a committee that would include at least two graduate students to evaluate the needs of students in the project.
The BP-UCB agreement now being negotiated would form the largest single corporate funding package in the history of American academia.
BP and the university would be the two signatories, and the university would negotiate subcontracts with the university-affiliated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The EBI would feature both separate and combined research programs, with each side reaping the economic benefits from inventions and discoveries created without participation of the other side, while proceeds from patents created jointly would be shared.