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Can USDA's NIFA be ag's NIH?

Historically short-shrifted by federal funding bodies, academic agricultural research was recently promised redemption: a federal funding agency of its very own that will award competitive grants in a fashion similar to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But will the new agency, the linkurl:National Institute of Food and Agriculture;http://www.csrees.usda.gov/ (NIFA), be able to put public-sector agricultural science on an equal footing with biomedical research? Technicians measure switch

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Historically short-shrifted by federal funding bodies, academic agricultural research was recently promised redemption: a federal funding agency of its very own that will award competitive grants in a fashion similar to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But will the new agency, the linkurl:National Institute of Food and Agriculture;http://www.csrees.usda.gov/ (NIFA), be able to put public-sector agricultural science on an equal footing with biomedical research?
Technicians measure switchgrass,
a plant studied for use as
a biomass source for biofuels

Image: Peggy Greb, USDA
NIFA, to be administrated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), was modeled after the government's other large science funding agencies -- the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy, and especially the NIH. Its mission is to fund research addressing several pressing issues ranging from increasing sustainable food production to bioenergy, food safety, and global climate change while encouraging a renaissance in agricultural research at universities...




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