It was a Ngatea farmer who finally got to Doug Edmeades on an Autumn day in 1985.

Then employed as a scientist for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) Dr Edmeades had amassed a considerable amount of information on liquid fertilisers and concluded they were useless. At this field day, he was put on the spot when the farmer asked how good the products were, and in particular Maxicrop. When told the answer, the farmer exploded and asked what MAF scientists – public servants funded by the taxpayer – were doing about it. At a time when fertiliser costs were rising (and farm returns shrinking) advertising for these products was everywhere yet the other side of the story remained untold. Dr Edmeades got his chance to redress the balance when asked to take part in Fair Go.

This appearance kicked off the Maxicrop trial, with the High Court ruling the product cannot and does not work. Yet despite this favourable outcome, Dr Edmeades became involved in a battle with MAF, on a similar subject that resulted in him leaving.

Science Friction is not just about the Maxicrop case, although this makes for fascinating reading. It is about the role of science in today’s increasingly commercialised world. Dr Edmeades believes under current conditions scientists are less likely to speak honestly and openly about various issues affecting society. And he ponders the implications of this.

Clearly written, with touches of humour, Dr Edmeades has produced a compelling book that is highly informative and raises important questions. He even manages to make soil sound interesting! Definitely worth a read.

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