Opinion open letter

A letter to President Reif regarding the Open Agriculture Initiative

The allegations regarding the Media Lab’s misrepresentation and environmental pollution warrant a full investigation

Dear President Reif,

As published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, there are serious allegations of academic misrepresentation at the Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. I have met with Dr. Babakinejad, quoted in the article, and he showed me documentation related to his environmental concerns about the Open Agriculture Initiative as well, including the illegal discharge of water containing high levels of nitrogen.

Prior to these allegations becoming public, both MIT Environmental Health and Safety and MIT’s legal department were made aware of the environmental and academic allegations by Dr. Babakinejad. These serious issues were not properly addressed by MIT, and instead, Dr. Babakinejad faced retaliation for raising these concerns.

Given the seriousness of Dr. Babakinejad’s complaints, I expect a full investigation by MIT and full accountability for the environmental violations and academic misrepresentations that are alleged. As an alumnus, I highly value MIT’s reputation and would hate to see it further reduced through a failure to take action on these complaints by your administration. As a public official, I feel it is my duty to bring this matter to your attention and ask for an immediate and thorough response.

Quinton Y. Zondervan, SM ’95
Cambridge City Councillor