Opinion open letter

Vice President for Research responds to letter on Open Agriculture Initiative

This is a response to an open letter published Sept. 26, “A letter to President Reif regarding the Open Agriculture Initiative.”

Dear Mr. Zondervan,

As MIT’s Vice President for Research and as a member of the interim Media Lab Executive Committee, I write in response to your open letter to President Reif regarding the Open Agriculture Initiative, published in The Tech on Sept. 26, 2019.

The issues you raise in your letter are important ones that MIT takes very seriously. With oversight of MIT’s Council on Environmental Health and Safety, it is my responsibility to ensure that policies are in place to assure that research conducted at all of MIT’s facilities, including the Bates Research and Engineering Center, follows all environmental health and safety regulations and protocols. OpenAg research at Bates that involves water discharge has been suspended, and a thorough assessment is taking place. MIT is committed to working constructively with MassDEP and the town of Middleton.

Regarding the allegations of academic misconduct that you referenced in your letter, let me be clear: research integrity at MIT is paramount. It lies at the heart of what we do and is central to MIT’s mission. While MIT policy does not permit commenting on any individual allegations, the Institute has policies and confidential processes in place to assess any concern of this nature that might be raised (see here), and we are committed to ensuring the absolute integrity of all research conducted at MIT.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. MIT is committed to moving forward together as one community, and we value the input and dedication of our alumni.

Maria T. Zuber
E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics
Vice President for Research
Chair, Institute Council on Environmental Health and Safety