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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Sprucing Up the Ag Labs
16 January 2009 6:31 pm
The U.S. Department of Agriculture bills its Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) as "The World's Largest Most Diversified Agricultural Research Complex." Still, the place is a shadow of its former self—the scientific staff is down about 40% since its heydey in the 1950s—and it's in dire need of repair.
There are some new labs on the campus, but the bovine genetics program and others make do in 1930s-era buildings that have never been updated. "They're doing First World science in Third World buildings," says John Peter Thompson, who heads NARA-B, a group that advocates on behalf of BARC. The stimulus package would come to BARC's rescue, plus provide upgrades for many of USDA's 100+ research facilities across the country.
The funds are to the tune of $209 million, which falls short of the $315 million that USDA said it needed last year to catch up on deferred maintenance. A USDA official says the agency has started prioritizing its list.
Fixing leaky roofs is hardly a bad thing, but what ag research advocates really want, of course, is more funds for science. Thomas Van Arsdall, director of the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research, is trying to look on the bright side. "I don't really care about buildings," he admits. "But obviously if [stimulus funding] improves the lab, it would make for better science."