South African Scientist Suspended for Water Quality Research

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) recently suspended scientist and fellow Andy Turton for a controversial paper he was to deliver on water quality. In the paper, Turton criticized the manner in which the council handles its funding.

The CSIR Spokesperson Christa van der Merwe said that within the paper “certain statements could not be sufficiently substantiated,” reports South Africa’s Independent Online. Turton criticized CSIR’s dependence on private interests that potentially bias the work its fellows accomplish.

Many view Turton’s suspension as an act of censorship that is becoming all too common within the South African academy. Freedom of Expression director Jane Duncan believes “it is difficult not to arrive at the conclusion that they [CSIR] were trying to shield the government and themselves from criticism.”

From Turton’s suspension in late November, colleagues and freedom of speech advocates have drawn a petition to CSIR demanding thorough substantiation of the council’s action. According to Duncan, “access to water is one of the most burning issues facing South Africa. The CSIR is bringing itself into disrepute by preventing such an important debate.”

Read more and watch a video interview with Turton here.

Source: Independent Online