A proposal to reorganize France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) encountered hostility from scientists this week. Researchers who signed a petition opposing the plan on Saturday (September 11) say it is motivated largely by a desire to cut costs, and threatens to destroy the organization's unity.

CNRS is the world's largest research body, employing 26,000 staff, including 11,600 researchers in 1,300 laboratories. Its budget for 2004 reaches 2,214 million euros. The plan, put forward in July by the head of CNRS, Bernard Larrouturou, envisages splitting the agency into five regional centers that would play a more active role in European and international research.

Larrouturou also proposes stepping up efforts to recruit world-class researchers, with up to one quarter of CNRS research staff coming from countries other than France by 2015.

Sofia Nadir, a spokeswoman from CNRS, told The Scientist that splitting into five regional centers would...

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