New science minister's activism sparks debate

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Science  05 Oct 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6410, pp. 14-15
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6410.14

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Come 1 December, when Mexico's new president is sworn in, Elena Álvarez-Buylla, an evolutionary developmental biologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, will become the director of the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt). She will be the president's primary science adviser and determine priorities for Conacyt's nearly $1.5 billion budget, which funds grants to scientists working in the public and private sectors and supports tens of thousands of Mexican students at home and abroad. Many scientists are delighted that one of their own will lead Conacyt—most of Álvarez-Buylla's predecessors were career administrators—and that she'll be the first woman to do so. But critics worry about her opposition to genetically modified maize, which Álvarez-Buylla fears could spoil the country's astonishing agricultural biodiversity.