News and Events: Séralini’s at it again, Farm Bill a boon for research, FASEB’s annual budget report

Posted: February 11, 2014 in advocacy, Ethics, Events, Funding, Jobs, Policy, Science

“Food and agricultural research advocates are celebrating today’s passage by the U.S. Senate of the long-delayed “Farm Bill.” It provides $512 million for science over 5 years and kick starts new fundraising for research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The bill, which the House of Representatives approved last week, now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.”

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology’s report “Budget Cuts in 2013 Reduced Biomedical Research”

 In constant dollars (adjusted for inflation), the NIH budget in fiscal year (FY) 2013 was $6 billion (22.4
percent) less than it was in FY 2003 (Figure 1, NIH Appropriation in Current and Constant Dollars)
 The number of competing research project grants (RPGs) awarded by NIH has also fallen sharply since
2003. In FY 2013, NIH made 8,283 RPG awards, which is 2,110 (20.3 percent) fewer than in 2003
(Figure 2, Number of Competing Awards)
 Awards for R01-equivalent grants, the primary mechanism for supporting investigator-initiated research,
suffered even greater losses. The number awarded fell by 2,528 (34 percent) between 2003 and 2013
(Figure 2, Number of Competing Awards)

“Swiss people narrowly agreed to limit the influx of migrants on their soil yesterday, casting an uncertain shadow over the European Union’s relations with its small, prosperous neighbor. The restrictions could also make it difficult for Swiss companies and universities to recruit foreign staff and could affect broader research ties between the European Union and Switzerland.”

“When Ralf Reski read the latest paper from controversial French biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini, he quickly decided he wanted nothing to do with it. Séralini’s report in BioMed Research International describes how pesticides kill cultured human cells, with the hair-raising conclusion that pesticides may be vastly more toxic than assumed by regulatory authorities. Some scientists are criticizing the findings as neither surprising nor significant—but they have touched off a firestorm, with environmental groups calling for changes in how pesticides are regulated. That was too much for Reski. Within hours of reading the paper last week, the plant scientist at the University of Freiburg in Germany resigned as an editor of the journal and asked for his name to be removed from its website. “I do not want to be connected to a journal that provides [Séralini] a forum for such kind of agitation,” he wrote in his resignation e-mail to the publisher, Hindawi Publishing Corporation.”

“A debate over a genetically modified (GM) maize variety ended in a paradox today. Nineteen out of 28 member states of the European Union oppose the cultivation of maize 1507, manufactured by DuPont Pioneer. And yet the countries’ vote authorized the European Commission—the European Union’s executive arm—to allow the crop on fields across the union.”

“The Australian agency tasked with managing the Great Barrier Reef has authorized what amounts to an experiment opposed by many scientists: how the iconic ecosystem will respond to mountains of sludge dumped into the waters between the reef and the Australian mainland. On Friday, the federal Marine Park Authority paved the way for development of one of the world’s largest coal ports by approving the dumping of up to 3 million cubic meters of dredge spoils inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

“An influential group of UK politicians has demanded that more be done to increase the number of women in scientific careers.”

“English universities will face significant funding cuts in the next two financial years, the government has announced. But research spending has once again been preserved.”


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