Research funding cuts – product placement to fill the gap?

Yesterday morning I was called by a programme producer at BBC Radio Scotland, who invited me to take part in a live debate about science funding. Unfortunately, I had to decline the short notice request owing to other commitments. However, had I been aware of this press release from Loughborough University, I would have cleared my diary, gone on-air and vented spleen.

The title of the press release is…

“Loughborough University announces exciting research findings in collaborative study with Yakult”

It doesn’t take much imagination to guess the content of this piece of shameless marketing dressed up as peer-reviewed science. And peer-reviewed it is, in that the Yakult-funded study is published in a supposedly respectable peer-reviewed journal. The commercial interest is clear for all to see, so no complaints there. What is absolutely outrageous, however, is the shallowness of the science and its presentation.

So drinking yoghurt (sorry, “probiotics”) is good for the immune system. Not exactly breaking news, is it? Now I’m all for industry sponsoring scientific research, but this is ridiculous.