A job in the higher reaches of academia is good training for parliamentary life, if Ian Gibson, Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Norwich North, is to be believed. Now chair of the House of Commons select committee on science and technology, Gibson was Dean of biological sciences at the University of East Anglia until his election to parliament in 1997. Ambition, he says, and back-stabbing are common to both.

Yet it is hard to escape the conviction that Gibson revels in political life. It is also more than likely that he was tailoring his words to raise an eyebrow or prompt a knowing smile among The Scientist's readership. Gibson is nothing if not media and audience conscious.

Current and forthcoming inquiries of the select committee cover high-profile political issues like EU funding of UK science (which opened this month), biodefence and genetically modified foods.

In the...

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