Science Policy Report

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19 October 2016

In This Issue:

Policy News

~ Science Policy activities at the 2016 ASA, CSSA & SSSA Annual Meeting
~ White House launches efforts to expand and diversify ag workforce
~ Bipartisan coalition of Senators endorses Earth Science Week
~ House subcommittee on research and technology holds hearing on academic research regulations
~ AAAS unveils dashboard on federal budgets
~ EPA postpones scientific review of glyphosate

Science News

~ ACSESS Diversity and Inclusion Statement
~ Drainage phosphorus loss proves tricky to ‘MANAGE’
~ Four scientists honored for accomplishments in biofortification at World Food Prize
~ What Michael Pollan gets wrong about Big Ag
~ Noted astronomer urges viewers to unlock the secrets in the soil
~ A message from the Director of the National Science Foundation
~ Science of industrial hemp: On the leading edge of a growing industry
~ Farm groups urge food companies to think twice on GMO bans
~ Greenhouse gas emissions from beef production only 1.9 percent of U.S. total
~ Agriculture economists release report on big ag data

International Corner

~ A stronger voice for U.K. science—but at what cost?
~ China’s $450 billion farm plan could determine our fate
~ The Paris climate agreement is entering into force. Now comes the hard part.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Northeastern Integrated Pest Management
~ Southern Integrated Pest Management
~ North Central Integrated Pest Management
~ Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership
~ Organic Farming Research Foundation
~ Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act

Policy News

(TOP) ~ Science Policy activities at the 2016 ASA, CSSA & SSSA Annual Meeting

The Science Policy Office is hosting several events for Annual Meeting attendees to get involved in. Graduate students are invited to attend the Science Policy Graduate Student Luncheon. The luncheon will give attendees an introduction to science policy and insight into why it’s so critical for scientists to engage in advocacy. There will be a short panel presentation before breaking into small group discussions about science policy and the ways graduate students can engage. Also all meeting attendees are invited to the Election Night Watch Party where the 2016 election results will be broadcast. Join your colleagues to see the results of this historic election. See details on all science policy events.

(TOP) ~ White House launches efforts to expand and diversify ag workforce

The White House announced new efforts to "expand and diversify" the agricultural workforce in the U.S., which is currently not keeping up with demand. The new push to focus on the agricultural workforce is a collaboration between OSTP, the White House Rural Council, USDA and the National Science Foundation, each of which have committed to take a series of actions. The USDA, for its part, has pledged to increase support for a program created in 1890 that ensures agricultural science scholarships at the country's 19 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The announcement also includes commitments by NSF and more than 70 state, nonprofit and private sector businesses to help expand and diversify the agriculture workforce. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ Bipartisan coalition of Senators endorses Earth Science Week

In a positive display of bipartisanship, U.S. Senators from across the country have come together in support of the American Geosciences Institute's 19th annual Earth Science Week celebration. The coalition, which consists of Members of Congress from Alaska to Florida, formally introduced a Senate resolution officially designating the week of October 9, 2016 through October 15, 2016 as "Earth Science Week." Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced S. Res. 562 on September 15, 2016. It formally passed the Senate by unanimous consent on September 28, 2016. The resolution emphasizes how a strong foundation in the earth sciences contributes to our ability to serve as responsible stewards of the Earth and its resources. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ House subcommittee on research and technology holds hearing on academic research regulations

The House Science, Space, & Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a hearing on restrictive and costly academic research regulations. Chairwoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) opened the hearing with a statement declaring the need to “cut the red tape to optimize our nation’s investment in scientific research.” According to House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), up to 25 percent of federal grant funding is spent on complying with research regulations. Research regulations were addressed in the University Streamlining and Harmonization Act of 2016 which calls for the creation of a Research Policy Board housed within the Office of Management and Budget and which is tasked with overseeing research regulations and policies to cut costly and unnecessary compliance measures. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ AAAS unveils dashboard on federal budgets

The AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program has just launched a new resource, the AAAS federal R&D budget dashboard, an interactive tool for looking at the federal R&D budget. Currently, you can use the dashboard to dive into historical R&D data by character (basic, applied, and development) and agency – either in absolute amounts (tab 1) or relative to the economy/total federal budget (tab 2) – and to look at the composition of the federal budget overall (tab 3), including mandatory outlays. The dashboard allows users to export custom PDF/images of plots based on their own manipulations of the data. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ EPA postpones scientific review of glyphosate

The EPA is postponing its Scientific Advisory Panel review of glyphosate until later this year because of scheduling conflicts with panel members. In a notice, the agency says the Oct. 18-21 meeting to review its cancer findings for the commonly used herbicide will be moved to a later date to accommodate independent experts involved with the assessment. The delays will likely further frustrate the pesticide industry and environmentalists who say the EPA has already dragged its feet on the long-overdue registration review for the herbicide, which was supposed to be finished in 2015. While the agency said in September that the draft risk assessment would be put out for public comment in the spring, postponing the panel review will push that back until later in 2017. Read the full article.

Science News

(TOP) ~ ACSESS Diversity and Inclusion Statement

The ACSESS Board of Directors recently adopted a Diversity and Inclusion Statement to promote ASA, CSSA, and SSSA as an inclusive agricultural, environmental and natural sciences community, supportive of the needs of all current and future scientists in our fields. Read the full statement.

(TOP) ~ Drainage phosphorus loss proves tricky to ‘MANAGE’

As the 2014 Lake Erie toxic algal bloom and other phosphorus-driven blooms around the world continue to generate headlines and stir regulatory interest, associated human and environmental health concerns have resulted in a need to revisit the potential contribution of phosphorus transported through tile drains to these water impairments. In the September–October 2016 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality, researchers compiled water quality and cropping information from 50 years of drainage studies into the MANAGE (Measured Annual Nutrient loads from Agricultural Environments) database to evaluate the impact of in-field management practices and uncontrollable site-specific factors on the amount of phosphorus lost in tile drainage. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ Four scientists honored for accomplishments in biofortification at World Food Prize

Four biofortification experts received recognition for their contributions to improving the health of millions at the 2016 Laureate Award Ceremony for the World Food Prize. The 2016 laureates –Maria Andrade, Howarth Bouis, Jan Low and Robert Mwanga –were greeted with standing ovations as they each entered the Iowa State Capitol House of Representatives chamber. The efforts of the 2016 World Food Prize Laureates have positively impacted over 10 million people through biofortified crops, with the potential of impacting and enhancing the nutrition and health of several hundred million more in the coming decades. The World Food Prize award ceremony and Laureate address forms part of the annual Borlaug Dialogue, a premier food security conference held in Des Moines, IA. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ What Michael Pollan gets wrong about Big Ag

Journalist Michael Pollan deserves credit for elevating the national conversation about food. Over the course of 25 years, his articles and books have thoughtfully contemplated the troubling side effects of the American diet and the way our food is produced. But his latest piece in the New York Times Magazine reads like a script for a black and white Western, with food companies, agribusiness and commodity producers cast in the role of Bad Guy and local organic farmers and vegans cast as the Men in White Hats. In Pollan’s script, the bad guys are responsible for everything from America’s weight problem and rising health care costs to widespread environmental degradation and monocultures that threaten national security. If only the law would get on the good guys’ side, he muses. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ Noted astronomer urges viewers to unlock the secrets in the soil

Dr. Laura Danly of California’s Griffith Observatory is helping USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service promote its “healthy soils” campaign. But why is an astronomer talking about soil, rather than the stars?  “Studying Earth is just like studying the planets. Earth is a planet, and it’s the most amazing planet we know. It’s the only one we know that has life on it, so it’s a natural for me to want to talk about Earth and share some important messages with people about how we can make Earth healthier,” Danly says. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ A message from the Director of the National Science Foundation

Shorter days and cooler temperatures may signal the end of the growing season, but they also remind us of how much we rely on the land. To feed a growing global population, estimated to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, it is imperative that we develop practical approaches to produce more food of high quality while sustaining the environment. For nearly two decades, National Science Foundation (NSF) funding has provided critical resources to improve multiple aspects of plant research that in turn has helped revolutionize the future of agriculture. For instance, plant genome research has led to next-generation breeding strategies, a type of molecular breeding that relies on genomic information. These new techniques will offer new ways to make economically important crops, such as corn, wheat, soybeans and tomatoes, more resistant to pests and more readily adaptable to local and changing environments. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ Science of industrial hemp: On the leading edge of a growing industry

Industrial hemp is a cultivar of the Cannabis sativa plant and falls under stricter regulations than most crops. However, those working with industrial hemp see the crop as an opportunity to be on the leading edge of research in a growing industry. CSSA and ASA recently sponsored a conference on The Science of Industrial Hemp in Denver, CO in July, bringing together almost 200 researchers, producers, and policymakers interested in industrial hemp from more than 34 states and five countries. Based on the needs related to industrial hemp production discussed and clarified at the conference, organizers are in the process of writing a paper which will soon be published and presented on Capitol Hill. Several of the conference speakers shared information about the work they presented and their experience at the conference with CSA News magazine. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ Farm groups urge food companies to think twice on GMO bans

Several leading U.S. farm groups are urging food companies to think twice about their sustainability goals, saying they may actually be causing more harm than good. The groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, are responding specifically to Dannon's pledge to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from its yogurt products, which they noted was just the latest such promise from prominent food manufacturers and retailers in recent years. In a letter sent today to Mariano Lozano, head of Dannon's U.S. operations, the farm groups said the company's strategy to eliminate GMOs (genetically modified organisms) "is the exact opposite of the sustainable agriculture that you claim to be seeking,” adding: “Your pledge would force farmers to abandon safe, sustainable farming practices that have enhanced farm productivity over the last 20 years while greatly reducing the carbon footprint of American agriculture." Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ Greenhouse gas emissions from beef production only 1.9 percent of U.S. total

When it comes to protecting the environment, blaming greenhouse gas emission problems on beef cattle or people who like a good steak is a claim that has little basis in fact. Unwarranted claims about cow farts have made it into the media, and as jokes offered up by late-night talk show hosts. Not only are cow farts not to blame, 98 percent of methane emissions from cattle are released through their mouth in a process called eructation. “As with the production of all foods, beef production results in greenhouse gas emissions; however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates direct emissions from the U.S. beef industry are only 1.9 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,” said Sara Place, assistant professor of sustainable beef cattle systems for Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ Agriculture economists release report on big ag data

The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE), the national non-profit organization that channels information from the agricultural economics profession to policy-makers and the public, has released a report on Big Ag. Data. The report, entitled Advancing U.S. Agricultural Competitiveness with Big Data and Agricultural Economic Market Information, Analysis, and Research, was authored by a multidisciplinary team of economic and engineering scientists. The paper adds context to the growth trajectory of Big Ag. Data technologies, identifies policy and science questions, and reviews the limitations of, and opportunities for, greater use of Big Ag. Data and Big Ag. Data analytics. Read the full article.

International Corner

(TOP) ~ A stronger voice for U.K. science—but at what cost?

Who would be the most effective advocate for scientists at a time of desperate uncertainty over future budgets and the United Kingdom’s pending exit from the European Union? To Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute here, the answer is clear: a preeminent scientist who would oversee £6 billion in research funding. A bill now before Parliament would create this position by combining the bulk of government science spending into a new organization called UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It’s a controversial proposal, so the Science Media Centre (SMC) gathered proponents and critics for a press briefing here this morning to lay out their cases. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ China’s $450 billion farm plan could determine our fate

Four hundred and fifty billion dollars. That’s the amount of money Chinese officials recently announced they would invest to improve the country’s farms over the next four years. That isn’t just a big number — it’s a redonkulously humongous number. Compare it to the new $3 billion Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (that’s Zuckerberg of Facebook wealth and fame) that aims to treat or prevent all diseases by 2100. Or the record $4.6 billion that U.S. investors crowed about pouring into ag startups last year. Take those massive efforts and multiply them 100-fold, and then we’re in the same range as this proposed Chinese investment. China’s choices, not to put too fine a point on it, will determine the fate of the world. Read the full article.

(TOP) ~ The Paris climate agreement is entering into force. Now comes the hard part.

The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ratify the Paris climate accord, a move that will make the sweeping international agreement a legal reality long before even those who negotiated it expected. Throughout much of 2016, world leaders from President Obama to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have pushed to bring the Paris agreement into force as early as possible, with the United States and China leading the drive. But even as the accord was being negotiated last December in Paris, few expected that the world would ratify it so rapidly. Now the focus inevitably shifts to more thorny issues — namely, how the world will actually get to a place where it’s possible to limit the warming of the planet to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as the Paris agreement calls for. Read the full article.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

(TOP) ~ Northeastern Integrated Pest Management

The Integrated Pest Management Partnership program supports projects that further the mission of the Northeastern IPM Center, address or identify regional IPM priorities, and benefit the northeastern region at large. The current project types are: (1) IPM Issues, (2) IPM Working Groups, and (3) IPM Communications. Deadline, November 15. Read the full announcement.

(TOP) ~ Southern Integrated Pest Management

The Southern IPM Center (SIPMC) is soliciting proposals that will enhance the development and implementation of Integrated Pest Management in the southern region of the United States. Seed, Capstone and Working Group grants are available to provide funding for projects that leverage other work. Deadline, November 18. Read the full announcement.

(TOP) ~ North Central Integrated Pest Management

The North Central Integrated Pest Management Center (NCIPMC) announces the availability of funds and requests proposals for Working Groups that support the NCIPMC and regional IPM priorities. Working Groups are self-selected and self-directed organizations that support the Center’s mission to "improve health, environment, and economic benefits by providing leadership and cooperating with our partners to facilitate the development and adoption of IPM solutions, based in the North Central region." NCIPMC is also accepting proposals on critical issues that address information, resource, and research needs with regional importance to specialty crops, major crops, non-crop areas, IPM metrics and/or impact assessments, urban IPM, cropping systems, geographical, school IPM, and other issues. Deadline, November 18. Read the full announcement.

(TOP) ~ Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program Office (CBPO) is announcing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for applicants to provide the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) partners with a proposal(s) for providing technical analysis and programmatic evaluation support for the CBP partnership in support of the implementation of the most cost-effective, efficient, and targeted nutrient and sediment reduction actions for the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.  Proposals will also provide for technical support for the targeted implementation of actions in support of reaching the goals and outcomes of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Deadline, November 26. Read the full announcement.

(TOP) ~ Organic Farming Research Foundation

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) grants program is accepting research proposals from applicants residing in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. OFRF offers funding for research on organic farming and food systems and the dissemination of these research results to organic farmers and the greater agricultural and research communities. Proposals must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation and must take place on certified organic land, ideally on working organic farms or ranches. Priorities for funding this year are small grain production, soil health, social science research, and animal production. Deadline, December 10. Read the full announcement.

(TOP) ~ Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requests interested entities to submit restoration, research and Regional Project proposals for the restoration of the Great Lakes Basin fish and wildlife resources. The purpose of the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act (GLFWRA) is to provide assistance to States, Indian Tribes, and other interested entities to encourage cooperative conservation, restoration and management of the fish and wildlife resources and their habitats in the Great Lakes Basin. Regional Projects are authorized activities of the Service related to fish and wildlife resource protection, restoration, maintenance, and enhancement impacting the resources of multiple States or Indian Tribes with fish and wildlife management authority in the Great Lakes Basin. The Service will be responsible for accomplishing Regional Projects on behalf of the State and/or Tribal agencies submitting the Regional Project proposal. Deadline, December 12. Read the full announcement.

Sources: USDA; DOE SC; NSF; NRCS; EPA; AGI; CFARE; ScienceInsider; White House; Chicago Tribune; Agri-Pulse; EDF Blog; The World Food Prize; Cattel Network; Washington Post; Grist; Genetic Literacy Project

Vision: The Societies Washington, DC Science Policy Office (SPO) will advocate the importance and value of the agronomic, crop and soil sciences in developing national science policy and ensuring the necessary public-sector investment in the continued health of the environment for the well being of humanity. The SPO will assimilate, interpret, and disseminate in a timely manner to Society members information about relevant agricultural, natural resources and environmental legislation, rules and regulations under consideration by Congress and the Administration.

This page of the ASA-CSSA-SSSA web site will highlight current news items relevant to Science Policy. It is not an endorsement of any position.

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