Talk show host granted Cornell biotech files

NEW YORK ‘A former talk show host has been granted access to Cornell University records, which the private school had argued were not subject to state freedom of information laws.

A seven-judge panel for the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, unanimously ruled Jeremy Alderson had the right to view biotech records within the Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Alderson requested the records because he said he was concerned that biotech research within the school would harm surrounding plant and animal life.

The court said, the college, although operated by a private institution, is subject to freedom of information laws because it is a statutory college of the State University of New York, a public body. The judges described Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences as legislated to perform a ‘public purpose.’

‘Notably, Cornell, the private institution legislatively charged with the operation of the statutory colleges on behalf of SUNY, is authorized to publicly disseminate the results of any scientific investigation or experiments,’ the court said.

College officials are considering an appeal of the ruling to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.

Alderson v. New York State College of Agriculture, 2002 WL 31479023 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept. Nov. 7, 2002)