Science Policy Report


Address all comments to the Science Policy Office at:
sciencepolicy@sciencesocieties.org

Recent Issues

2017-11-15

2017-11-01

2017-10-19

2017-10-04

2017-09-20

2017-09-06


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01 November 2017

In This Issue:

Policy News

~ Ask President Trump to appoint an OSTP Director
~ Apply for these exciting policy opportunities
~ Societies call to double agriculture research funding
~ Rand Paul takes a poke at U.S. peer-review panels
~ Protect funding for DOE-Office of Science in FY2019, Societies ask OMB

Science News

~ How much water flows into agricultural irrigation?
~ Science could save coffee from climate change
~ Satellite imagery is helping us find harmful algal blooms earlier to keep the public safe
~ Agricultural productivity needs to increase to feed the world: GAP Report
~ How climate change is playing havoc with olive oil (and farmers)
~ Mix is key in reversing pest resistance to biotech cotton
~ Climate smart weather tools
~ How data science and gene editing will transform farming
~ Candidate Search - Assistant Director for Biological Sciences

International Corner

~ EU Commission proposes five-year extension for herbicide glyphosate
~ In Brazil, researchers struggle to fend off deepening budget cuts
~ UK is 30-40 years away from 'eradication of soil fertility', warns Gove
~ Egypt says Bahrain, Kuwait and UAE to lift ban on its agriculture exports

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ NSF Research Traineeship Program
~ HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering
~ Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology
~ Solid Waste Management Grant Program
~ Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Cooperative Weed Management Areas Request for Proposals
~ Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
~ Wood Innovations Program
~ Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems

Policy News


(TOP) ~ Ask President Trump to appoint an OSTP Director

Now more than ever scientists must stand up for scientific integrity and science-based decision making. Let President Trump and his administration know there are thousands of scientists who believe that we all benefit when science informs policy. Show your support for science by signing the petition asking President Trump to appoint a highly qualified member of the scientific community to serve as the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Sign the petition here.


(TOP) ~ Apply for these exciting policy opportunities

ASA, CSSA and SSSA members with an interest in advocacy and science policy are encouraged to apply for two advocacy award opportunities offered by the Societies. Award recipients receive full funding to participate in the 2018 Congressional Visits Day program in Washington, D.C. on March 7-8, 2018. Congressional Visits Day allows Society members to meet with members of Congress and advocate for food, agriculture and natural resources research. Graduate student members can apply HERE and non-student members (early, mid or late career) can apply HERE. Application deadline for both awards is December 5, 2017. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Societies call to double agriculture research funding

ASA, CSSA and SSSA joined with over 60 other organizations and educational institutions in delivering a consensus document to House and Senate agriculture leadership with priority recommendations for the Research, Education, and Extension Title of the 2018 Farm Bill. The letter includes ten recommendations including a request to double the USDA research, education, and extension’s budget to $6 billion during the five-year life of the 2018 Farm Bill. It also presents policy recommendations focused on improving the coordination, oversight, efficiency, competitiveness, and responsiveness of our nation’s public agricultural research, education, and extension system. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Rand Paul takes a poke at U.S. peer-review panels

Senate Republicans have launched a new attack on peer review by proposing changes to how the U.S. government funds basic research. New legislation introduced this week by Senator Rand Paul (R–KY) would fundamentally alter how grant proposals are reviewed at every federal agency by adding public members with no expertise in the research being vetted. The bill (S.1973) would eliminate the current in-house watchdog office within the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Alexandria, Virginia, and replace it with an entity that would randomly examine proposals chosen for funding to make sure the research will “deliver value to the taxpayer.” The legislation also calls for all federal grant applications to be made public. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Protect funding for DOE-Office of Science in FY2019, Societies ask OMB

A coalition of over 80 scientific societies and educational groups, including ASA, CSSA and SSSA, sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, asking for strong funding support for the Department of Energy, Office of Science in the President’s FY 2019 budget request. The letter requests no less than $5.8 billion for the Office of Science so it can continue to support cutting-edge research at universities and national laboratories and the construction and operation of world-class science infrastructure needed to maintain U.S. leadership in scientific innovation, economic competitiveness and national security. Read the letter here.

Science News


(TOP) ~ How much water flows into agricultural irrigation?

Irrigation for agriculture is the largest use of fresh water around the globe, but precise records and maps of when and where water is applied by farmers are difficult to locate. Now a team of researchers has discovered how to track water used in agriculture. In a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers detail their use of satellite images to produce annual maps of irrigation. The findings, the scientists said, will help farmers, water resource managers and others understand agricultural irrigation choices and make better water management decisions. The paper highlights the need to know when and where irrigation is occurring to effectively manage water resources. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Science could save coffee from climate change

Centroamericano, a new variety of coffee plant, hasn’t sparked the buzz of, say, Starbucks’s latest novelty latte. But it may be the coolest thing in brewing: a tree that can withstand the effects of climate change. Climate change could spell disaster for coffee, a crop that requires specific temperatures to flourish and that is highly sensitive to a range of pests. So scientists are racing to develop more tenacious strains of one of the world’s most beloved beverages. In addition to Centroamericano, seven other new hybrid varieties are gradually trickling onto the market. And this summer, World Coffee Research — an industry-funded nonprofit group — kicked off field tests of 46 new varieties that it says will change coffee-growing as the world knows it. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Satellite imagery is helping us find harmful algal blooms earlier to keep the public safe

Cyanobacteria blooms, which can become harmful algal blooms (HABs) , are a huge environmental problem across the United States. They are capable of producing dangerous toxins that threaten the health of humans and animals, the quality of drinking water supplies, and the ecosystems in which they develop. Scientists at EPA are part of a team of specialists using remote sensing data to improve cyanobacteria detection methods. Improving the detection process would help state environmental and health agencies better determine whether to post public advisories to protect human health. The Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN), a multi-agency project involving EPA, NASA, NOAA, and USGS, uses historical and current satellite data to provide an early warning indicator system for HABs in U.S. freshwater systems. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Agricultural productivity needs to increase to feed the world: GAP Report

Global agricultural productivity growth is not accelerating fast enough to sustainably feed the world in 2050, says a report by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI). GHI’s 8th annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report: A World of Productive Sustainable Agriculture warns that unless this trend is reversed, the world may not be able to sustainably provide the food, feed, fiber and biofuels needed for a growing, more affluent global population. According to the GAP Report, global agricultural productivity must increase by 1.75% annually to meet the demands of nearly 10 billion people in 2050. GHI’s annual assessment of global productivity growth – the GAP Index – shows the current rate of growth is only 1.66%. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ How climate change is playing havoc with olive oil (and farmers)

During this summer’s recent drought, olive farmers had to purchase water just to keep their crops alive. Scientists say that the heat wave that swept across Europe was likely aided by human caused climate change. No one will go hungry if there’s not enough olive oil on the market. But the impact of climate change on such a hardy and high-end product is a measure of how global warming is beginning to challenge how we grow food. As the changing climate makes growing in the Mediterranean more unpredictable, places like California, Australia, and New Zealand are going to show more strength in the olive market. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Mix is key in reversing pest resistance to biotech cotton

Insect pests that are rapidly adapting to genetically engineered crops threaten agriculture worldwide. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals the success of a surprising strategy for countering this problem: Hybridizing genetically engineered cotton with conventional cotton reduced resistance in the pink bollworm, a voracious global pest. The study is the result of a long-standing collaboration between researchers at the University of Arizona and in China. According to the study's authors, this is the first reversal of substantial pest resistance to a Bt crop. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Climate smart weather tools

Researchers at the University of Florida are helping state growers save millions of dollars via the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN), a tool to gauge weather in agricultural areas. According to Director Rick Lesher, FAWN provides agriculture weather-related data in areas that are not served by the National Weather Service tools located at airports. FAWN allows farmers to monitor evaporation levels, which indicates when they should turn off their irrigation systems. Farmers are saving up to two hours of irrigation daily. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ How data science and gene editing will transform farming

About two decades ago, genetically modified organisms came into popular use. And the technique quickly drew fire from critics for introducing DNA from one organism into another. Now there are new technologies on the rise that promise to reshape the world of agriculture. Data science is making it possible to get a much more detailed look at things like how fertilizer can be used more effectively. Potentially more controversial is a new technique known as gene editing that lets scientists remove negative traits from an organism or add positive ones without introducing any foreign DNA. Proponents say the method is simply what farmers have been doing for centuries—breeding for certain traits—only much faster and more efficiently. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Candidate Search - Assistant Director for Biological Sciences

The National Science Foundation is initiating a national search for the Assistant Director for Biological Sciences (BIO). We seek your assistance in the identification of visionary candidates to lead the Directorate during the coming years. The Assistant Director, BIO, manages a budget of approximately $750.0M and a portfolio comprising the various fields of biology, including the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB), the Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI), the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS), the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB), and the Emerging Frontiers Office (EF). Shown below are information sheets that summarizes the Directorate's activities and the responsibilities of the position, together with the criteria that will be used in the search. Employment may be on a temporary or permanent basis in the Federal Service or by temporary assignment under provisions of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. Recommendations due November 10. Read the full announcement.

International Corner


(TOP) ~ EU Commission proposes five-year extension for herbicide glyphosate

The European Commission has proposed extending the license for weed-killer glyphosate by five years after its initial plan for a 10-year approval did not secure sufficient support. EU countries failed on Wednesday to vote on a license extension, for the second time this month, delaying a decision that needs to be taken before the end of the year on the widely used herbicide that critics say could cause cancer. The Commission said in a statement that it had now submitted to EU countries its proposal for a five-year approval, with a vote now expected at the next sitting of the relevant committee on November 9. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ In Brazil, researchers struggle to fend off deepening budget cuts

With time and money running out, Brazilian scientists are turning up the pressure on the federal government to avoid a total collapse of the national science and technology funding system before the end of the year. Researchers last week delivered a petition with more than 82,000 signatures to congressional leaders in Brasília, demanding the reversal of deep budget cuts that have left research institutions struggling to pay even basic water and electricity bills. The petition delivery was part of a series of meetings and protests held across Brazil. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ UK is 30-40 years away from 'eradication of soil fertility', warns Gove

The UK is 30 to 40 years away from “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility” in parts of the country, the environment secretary Michael Gove has warned. Arguing that farmers needed to be incentivized to tackle both the loss of soil fertility and the decline in biodiversity, Gove said that he hoped the SSA, a new body formed with the mission of bringing UK soils back to health within one generation, would hold the government to account and bring him ideas and inspiration. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Egypt says Bahrain, Kuwait and UAE to lift ban on its agriculture exports

Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to lift a ban on imports of Egyptian agricultural products. The agreement came after a series of meetings and negotiations held between an Egyptian delegation and the Gulf countries, the Egyptian agriculture ministry said in a statement. The series of bans, which were said to have been on concerns over pesticide residues, had come at a time where there was an increased appetite for Egyptian exports resulting from a currency float that slashed the pound’s value in half last year. Read the full article.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ NSF Research Traineeship Program

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. For FY2018, proposals are requested in any interdisciplinary research theme of national priority, with special emphasis on two high priority areas: (1) Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) and (2) Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS). Letter of Intent deadline, November 27- December 6. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering

HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (RISE) awards support the development of research capability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offer doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines. Supported projects must have a unifying research focus in one of the research areas supported by NSF, a direct connection to the long-term plans of the host department(s), institutional strategic plan and mission, and plans for expanding institutional research capacity as well as increasing the production of doctoral students, especially those underrepresented in STEM. Letter of Intent deadline, December 1. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology

The Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program provides support to enhance the research capabilities of minority-serving institutions (MSI) through the establishment of centers that effectively integrate education and research. CREST promotes the development of new knowledge, enhancements of the research productivity of individual faculty, and an expanded presence of students historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The CREST program supports the following types of projects: 1) CREST Center; 2) CREST Partnership Supplements; and 3) CREST Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Letter of Intent deadline vary based on project type. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Solid Waste Management Grant Program

This program reduces or eliminates pollution of water resources by providing funding for organizations that provide technical assistance or training to improve the planning and management of solid waste sites. Funds may be used to 1) Evaluate current landfill conditions to identify threats to water resources; 2) Provide technical assistance or training to enhance the operation and maintenance of active landfills; 3) Provide technical assistance or training to help communities reduce the amount of solid waste coming into a landfill; and 4) Provide technical assistance or training to prepare for closure and future use of a landfill site. Deadline, January 2. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Cooperative Weed Management Areas Request for Proposals

This application is for the Cooperative Weed Management Areas Program Area. The goal of this program area is to detect, prevent, eradicate, and/or control invasive plant species to promote resiliency, watershed stability, and biological diversity on Federal, State, or private land. Funding is available to Cooperative Weed Management Areas (and similar organizations, e.g., Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs) and Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs), etc.,) that work within the Great Lakes Basin of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. CWMAs and similar groups are organized partnerships of Federal, State, and local government agencies, tribes, individuals, and various interested groups that manage invasive species (particularly plants) within a defined area, generally a county or larger in size. Proposals may include work on all land ownerships within the Great Lakes watershed of the United States. Deadline, January 5. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research

The Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program is part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Development Lab effort to bring together diverse partners to discover, test, and scale breakthrough solutions to critical challenges in international development. PEER is a competitive grants program that invites scientists in developing countries to apply to USAID for funds to support research and capacity-building activities that will be conducted in partnership with U.S. Government (USG)-funded scientists. These developing country scientists seek out partners that are currently active NIFA grantees. The PEER Program is currently accepting research proposals in the following focus areas: 1) multi-country focus areas; 2) regional or country specific calls; and 3) countries involving a current NIFA grantee funded by PEER. Pre-proposal deadline, January 12. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Wood Innovations Program

The U.S. Forest Service requests proposals to substantially expand and accelerate wood energy and wood products markets throughout the United States to support forest management needs on National Forest System and other forest lands. This Request for Proposal focuses reducing hazardous fuels and improve forest health on National Forest System and other forest lands, reducing costs of forest management on all land types and promoting economic and environmental health of communities. Funding will be awarded to two separate categories outlined as follows: 1) Expansion of wood energy markets and 2) expansion of wood products markets. Deadline, January 22. Read the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems

The Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Program supports interdisciplinary research that examines human and natural system processes and the complex interactions among human and natural systems at diverse scales. Research projects to be supported by CNH must include analyses of four different components: (1) the dynamics of a natural system; (2) the dynamics of a human system; (3) the processes through which the natural system affects the human system; and (4) the processes through which the human system affects the natural system. CNH also supports research coordination networks (CNH-RCNs) designed to facilitate activities that promote future research by broad research communities that will include all four components necessary for CNH funding. Deadline, January 23. Read the full announcement.

Sources: USDA; NSF; EPA: FFAR; AAAS; ScienceInsider; Times; Farm Futures; New York Times; AU News; Land Grant Impacts; Wall Street Journal; Reuters; The Guardian;

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.