In DepthBrazil

Fiscal crisis has Brazilian scientists scrambling

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Science  28 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6251, pp. 909-910
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6251.909

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Summary

Brazilian scientists are facing one of the nation's worst funding climates in decades. Battling a slumping economy and debt, Brazil's federal government has taken an ax to spending, and it isn't sparing science. President Dilma Rousseff's administration has cut by 25% the Ministry of Science's projected 2015 budget, and sliced 9% from the budget of the Ministry of Education, which plays an important role in funding graduate students. Research agencies are withholding money for grants that have already been awarded, and have canceled or postponed new calls for proposals. And Rousseff is redirecting funds once earmarked largely for research to send Brazilian students abroad to study. The funding climate is "the worst in 20 years," says Helena Nader, president of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science. At the root of the problem are changes in how Brazil's government spends the royalties generated by Brazil's lucrative offshore oil fields, which have been a major source of funding for science and technology development. In recent years, Brazil's government has redirected much of the oil revenue to other priorities, including health care and education.

  • * in São Paulo, Brazil