In November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its 1990 competitive research grants, an extramural program with $40 million to spend and high hopes for $500 million in 1991. Grants for up to five years are awarded according to peer review to investigators at colleges, universities, research institutions, or state agricultural experiment stations.

The biggest slice of the 1990 program is a biotechnology research initiative. Begun in 1985, the program has grown to $19 million. Also, the agency has expanded efforts begun last year to understand how plants respond to ozone depletion and increased ultraviolet-B radiation, calling it the Plant Responses to the Environment program. That program has $3.7 million available. In addition, the agency has also begun a Forest Biology program that is now separate from the USDA Forest Service competitive grants program that ran from 1985 to 1988. That program has $4 million to spend.

The USDA encourages...

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