News and Events: Controversial NSF bill gets hearing in US House, Swedish scientists allege that Swedish aid behind Philippine GMO crop attacks, and OA publishers sanctioned

Posted: November 17, 2013 in Ethics, Events, Funding, Jobs, Policy, Science

“Congressional hearings can sometimes hide more than they reveal. So it was yesterday, when the research panel of the U.S. House of Representatives science committee held its first public airing of a bill that would make some controversial changes to peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF).”

“A group of Swedish scientists challenged their government in an open letter on 22 October in which they alleged that Swedish foreign aid has supported vandalism in the Philippines against research plots of genetically modified crops.

Last August, a group of Philippine anti-GMO activists attacked and destroyed a field trial of so-called ‘golden rice’ in the Bicol region. The trial was being conducted by the government’s Philippine Rice Research Institute, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and other public-sector partners. IRRI, whose general director, Robert Zeigler, also signed the open letter, is supported by Sweden through foreign aid to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, CGIAR.”

“A leading trade association for the publishers of free, open-access (OA) scientific journals has expelled two of its members, and put a third on probation, as a result of a controversial investigative journalism project published earlier this year by Science. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) announced today on its blog that it is terminating the memberships of publishers Hikari Ltd. and Dove Medical Press and placing the membership of SAGE Publications “under review” for 6 months.”

“I have seen the very recent report and follow-on discussions that NIH is considering asking institutions to limit grant applications as a way to control demand. Let me present the facts. You may remember the dialogue we had back in October 2011 on how NIH should manage science in fiscally challenging times. The option of limiting applications was raised at that time but was discarded at the outset and we are not pursuing it now.”

“As part of a survey sponsored by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and The Science Coalition (TSC), leaders from 171 public and private research universities were asked to describe the early effects of the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts in the federal budget (“sequestration”) that began in March…

In the first seven months of sequestration, 70% of responding universities cited delays in research projects and 70% experienced reductions in the number of new research grants. The widespread delays and reductions in research activities reported by the survey respondents have immediate, real costs for researchers and students as well as long-term financial and opportunity costs for the nation’s research enterprise.”

“Coral reefs, shellfish, and even top predators such as tuna could be devastated as human carbon-dioxide emissions continue to acidify the world’s oceans. These and other impacts of anthropogenic ocean acidification are laid out in a new expert assessment, released today.”

“A well-known research lab is throwing its weight behind an idea that some biologists say is ripe for their field: a free website that will post raw manuscripts online before they’re submitted to a journal.”

“President Barack Obama has added two academic researchers to his new science team at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Obama yesterday announced his intention to nominate chemical engineer Franklin “Lynn” Orr, a professor and administrator at Stanford University in California, to fill the newly created position of undersecretary for science and energy. The same announcement tapped physicist Marc Kastner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge to lead DOE’s Office of Science, which manages a $4.6 billion research portfolio. Last week, the White House picked physicist Ellen Williams, chief scientist at energy giant BP and a former longtime professor at the University of Maryland (UMD), College Park, to run DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).”

“Long-awaited revisions to cholesterol clinical guidelines have dialed back previous recommendations to use cholesterol-lowering drugs to force ‘bad’ cholesterol below predetermined targets.”

“The year 2013 is on course to becoming the seventh-warmest year since climate records began in 1850. The average surface temperature during January to September has been 0.48 °C above the 1961–1990 average, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s provisional State of the Climate report, released today.”


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