US lawmakers plan to introduce legislation within the next few weeks to establish a new research institute to manage peer-reviewed grants focused on basic food and agricultural science. Modeled after the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would be an independent agency within the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), overseeing up to $1 billion in competitive extramural research grants. "Agricultural research has been under-funded for many years," said William H. Danforth, chancellor emeritus of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and chair of a USDA task force that recommended the institute's creation. "The opportunities and challenges are very great -- from biofuels, molecular biology, proteomics, to dealing with competition from foreign farmers with cheaper land," he told The Scientist. While Congress doubled NIH's budget to more than $27.2 billion over a five-year period, research funding at USDA has remained virtually flat over the...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?