Science  06 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5757, pp. 25

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  1. European Thumbs Green for GM

    1. Gretchen Vogel

    BERLIN—The new year is looking brighter for European researchers and farmers who want to plant genetically modified (GM) crops. On 14 December, the German government approved the first three varieties of GM maize to be allowed in the country, and a few days later, new agricultural minister Horst Seehofer said he would encourage the planting of GM crops. That's a stark contrast from Seehofer's predecessor, Renate Kunast, who as a member of the Green Party pushed through restrictions on GM planting that researchers said made field trials impossible (Science, 25 June 2004, p. 1887).

    In late December, the European Commission proposed new rules that would allow organic foods to be labeled as such with up to 0.9% accidental contamination with GM products or seeds from neighboring farms or during processing. Several consumer groups have vowed to fight the proposal to protect what Friends of the Earth Europe says are consumers who want food free of “genetic contamination.”

  2. Lobbyists Tout Funding Poll

    1. Jeffrey Mervis

    Science boosters believe that the results of a November poll offer one more reason for lawmakers to jump onto the bandwagon this year and increase federal support for academic research—especially if nobody thinks too much about what the answers might mean.

    Commissioned by a coalition of business leaders, educators, and professional societies (, the survey reports that 78% of 800 adults, all registered voters, favor spending tax dollars on academic science. Some 70% say they like a key component of one plan being peddled to Congress (Science, 21 October 2005, p. 423) that would increase federal funding for the physical sciences by 10% annually for the next 7 years. Support tops 80% among Democrats and those with postgraduate training.

    Still, answers to an open-ended question about the value of “university research” revealed some fuzziness about what that phrase actually signifies. One respondent, for example, wrote that “it is very important that young kids get an opportunity [to learn math and science]”; another noted that “education is one of the most important issues we face today.”

  3. Women Get Yen

    1. Dennis Normile

    Female Japanese scientists have something to look forward to in this year's science budget. The plan includes $6 million in new funds for programs at universities and research institutions to help women advance in science and return to work after maternity leave. Reiko Kuroda, a University of Tokyo biochemist, calls the grants “a good start” in tackling the longstanding problem of Japanese women juggling families and science careers.

    Elsewhere in the budget, Japanese scientists are feeling relatively lucky, with science-related spending for the fiscal year beginning in April cut 0.1% from current levels to $31.1 billion. Overall government spending will be cut 3%. The budget is pretty good “considering the financial situation,” says Kuroda, a member of Japan's advisory Council for Science and Technology Policy. The budget will likely get parliament approval this month.

  4. Congress Joins Paper Chase

    1. Jocelyn Kaiser

    Lawmakers are expected this year to consider whether the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should require researchers to send their accepted manuscripts to a free full-text archive.

    The voluntary policy, in effect since May, is meant to make freely available the results of NIH-funded studies and guide NIH management. But most NIH grantees aren't cooperating, and proposed legislation could force them to. An NIH advisory panel recently recommended that NIH make submission mandatory and post papers 6 months after publication in journals. The current guideline is 12 months. Many nonprofit publishers prefer that NIH links to the published paper online and warn that a shorter delay could doom journals and bankrupt some scientific societies.

  5. New Indian Centers on Tap

    1. Pallava Bagla

    HYDERABAD—India will create 50 new centers for life science and biotechnology research this year that will hire more than 500 scientists over the next 5 years. Buoyed by an economic uptick, the government will also create 1000 positions at the facilities specifically for young researchers. Due to budget restraints, India has not recruited new scientists for government in recent years. Science and Technology department secretary Valangiman Subramanian Ramamurthy, a nuclear scientist, called the new initiative “music for my ears.”