I am grateful for the attention you have given the plant sciences (Scott Veggeberg, The Scientist, Sept. 14, 1992, page 14) and the breadth of opinions reflected in your interviews. I'd like to clarify one important point, however, regarding your summary of the National Research Council report "Plant Biology Research and Training for the 21st Century."

Our report does not say that "the majority of the agency's [the United States Department of Agriculture's] research budget goes to land grant universities." The data show that the majority of USDA funding goes to its intramural program, the Agricultural Research Service ($300 million in 1988).

By citing the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences as models, our report is arguing that the balance of funding should be shifted away from intramural programs and toward extramural competitive programs. This is not an argument for gutting colleges of agriculture...

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