Harper Adams University has been forced to issue a statement of regret after one of its professors referred to Bayer as an ‘agricultural death sciences company’ on Twitter.
Professor Early, who is governor and head of the department of food science and agri-food supply chain management at the world-renowned university, made the extraordinary claim in response to a tweet from Bayer which asked for support in the fight against an EU ban on neonicotinoids.
In his now-deleted tweet, he said: “An amazing request from one of the agricultural death sciences companies. Very disturbing. #neonics”.
Members of the farming community were quick to criticise the outburst, with one claiming the language was ‘hardly appropriate’.
Others called into question the impartiality of Harper Adams lectures.
Harper Adams University vice chancellor Dr David Llewellyn told Farmers Guardian policy makers have to take all the different scientific opinions on neonicotinoids into account.
“This is the approach we take in our teaching and research, which inevitably, and rightly, covers subjects which are controversial in nature, and which require the freedom to consider difficult questions, and standpoints, to move the debate onwards”, he added.
“We regret, however, that one of our staff made a personal error in using social media to take a line which was not based on evidence from all sides. The matter has since been dealt with internally and we have spoken to a Bayer Crop Science representative to assure the company about our independent position in this debate.”
Professor Early has confirmed he will be sending a formal apology to Bayer.