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Science Policy Report

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Note: Due to the Congressional recess, there will be no Science Policy Report on August 24. The next SPR will be posted on September 7.

Thank you, The Science Policy Office team.

04 June 2014

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Chinese Science to Get With the Global Program
~ Harvesting sunlight to help feed and fuel the world
~ Asian Institutions Release Genomes of 3000 Rice Lines
~ Canadian Weather Forecasters Forbidden From Discussing Climate Change

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Aquaculture Research
~ Soil Health and Conservation Outreach Workshops
~ Water for Agriculture
~ Food Security
~ ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers
~ Notice on NSF Abstracts and Titles
~ Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Policy Research
~ Process for Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture (NLGCA) Designation

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ 2014 ASA, CSSA, SSSA Annual Meetings: Final Abstract Deadline
~ Earth Science Week
~ Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate
~ Genetically modified crops could help improve the lives of millions
~ Scientists forecast economic impacts of the drought on Central Valley agriculture

Congressional/Administration News

~ NSF Appropriations
~ FIRST Act
~ USDA Seeks Partnerships to Protect Soil and Water

International Corner


(TOP) ~ Chinese Science to Get With the Global Program

At the Global Research Council meeting, Chinese science leaders threw their weight behind plans to embrace open access and Western norms of scientific conduct, including a plea from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) for more rigorous evaluation and peer review. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Harvesting sunlight to help feed and fuel the world

Three research teams--each comprised of scientists from the United States and the United Kingdom--have been awarded a second round of funding to continue research on new ways to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis. The ultimate goal of this potentially high-impact research is to develop methods to increase yields of important crops that are harvested for food and sustainable biofuels. Read more.


(TOP) ~ Asian Institutions Release Genomes of 3000 Rice Lines

Researchers from three Asian institutions announced the release of the genetic sequences of 3000 rice lines. The hope is that this genetic information will lead to identifying genes for draught, disease, and pest resistance as well as tolerance for poor soils. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Canadian Weather Forecasters Forbidden From Discussing Climate Change

Weather forecasters employed by the Canadian Meteorological Service have been banned from publicly discussing climate change. The decision has been justified on the basis that years of study of meteorology does not make a person qualified to discuss climatic events longer than a few months. The program is not limited to climate issues, or even the environment, but critics have argued that Global Warming is the key target. Since the ban there has been an 80% fall in coverage of Global Warming in the Canadian media, according to leaked Environment Canada documents. Read the full article.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ Aquaculture Research

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking research grant funding applications for projects to support the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in the U.S. and generate new science-based information and innovation to address industry constraints. Over the long term, results of projects supported by this program may help improve the profitability of the U.S. aquaculture industry, reduce the U.S. trade deficit, increase domestic food security, provide markets for U.S.-produced grain products, increase domestic aquaculture business investment opportunities, and provide more jobs for rural and coastal America. Deadline 23 June. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Soil Health and Conservation Outreach Workshops

The USDA NRCS Missouri State Office is seeking to partner and support the efforts of natural resource conservation partners and to promote public awareness and implementation of Farm Bill activities. The main focus is to conduct conservation outreach workshops, conferences and training that will help educate Missouri’s farm community, private landowners, conservation organizations, cooperating agencies, and general citizenry. Deadline 10 July. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Water for Agriculture

NIFA initiates a new challenge area to address critical water resources issues such as drought, excess soil moisture, flooding, quality and others in an agricultural context. Funding will be used to develop management practices, technologies, and tools for farmers, ranchers, forest owners and managers, public decision makers, public and private managers, and citizens to improve water resource quantity and quality. NIFA’s approach will link social, economic, and behavioral sciences with traditional biophysical sciences and engineering to address regional-scale issues with shared hydrological processes and meteorological and basin characteristics. Deadline 13 August. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Food Security

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is seeking proposals that focus on reducing crop and livestock losses in U.S. agricultural systems will be considered for funding. Proposed projects should develop and extend sustainable, integrated management strategies that reduce pre and post-harvest losses caused by diseases, insects, and weeds in crop and animal production systems, while maintaining or improving product quality and production efficiency. Proposals should aim to develop approaches for managing losses throughout the whole food system (production, harvesting, storage, processing, distribution, and consumption), and should address the social, economic, and behavioral aspects of food security. Deadline 12 June. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers

The National Science Foundation is seeking proposals for the ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers program. The goals of the ADVANCE program are (1) to develop systemic approaches to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic STEM careers; (2) to develop innovative and sustainable ways to promote gender equity in the STEM academic workforce; and (3) to contribute to the development of a more diverse science and engineering workforce. Deadline 22 September. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Notice on NSF Abstracts and Titles

The National Science Foundation released an announcement to clarify the NSF policy on award Abstracts and Titles. The announcement outlines the purpose of all grant Abstracts and Titles and instructs applicants to keep these criteria in mind when developing proposals. See the full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Policy Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) invites proposals for a competitive grant to establish and fund a USDA Center for Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Policy Research. The USDA Center will facilitate new and innovative research on the application of behavioral and experimental economics theory and practice to the provision of ecosystem services from the Nation’s agricultural lands. Deadline 7 July. Read full announcement.


(TOP) ~ Process for Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture (NLGCA) Designation

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has issued a notice which outlines the criteria to qualify for NLGCA designation and the steps to obtain such designation. In order for an institution to qualify as a NLGCA, it must be a public college or university offering a baccalaureate or higher degree in the study of food and agricultural sciences. NIFA notes that designation as a NLGCA is one way an institution may qualify to receive an exemption from the new matching fund requirement described in the Agricultural Act of 2014. See the full criteria.

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ 2014 ASA, CSSA, SSSA Annual Meetings: Final Abstract Deadline

Submit an abstract to the ASA, CSSA, SSSA Annual Meeting by the final abstract deadline of Friday, June 7. The Annual Meeting will be held under the theme, "Grand Challenges—Great Solutions," Nov. 2-5, in Long Beach, CA. View sessions in the Preliminary Program.


(TOP) ~ Earth Science Week

In celebration of Earth Science Week, Ocotber 12-18, 2014, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is sponsoring three national contests honoring this year's theme, "Earth's Connected Systems." This year's competitions will feature a photography contest, a visual arts contest, and an essay contest. See more here.


(TOP) ~ Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate

Last week, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a report urging the US government to take action to curb the risks climate change poses to global food security. It explains how higher temperatures, changes in rainfall and natural disasters caused by climate change could undermine food production and put food supplies at risk. In total, climate change could reduce food production growth by 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century. The report was released at The Chicago Council’s Global Food Security Symposium 2014. Read more here.


(TOP) ~ Genetically modified crops could help improve the lives of millions

Genetically modified crops have increased the productivity and improved the lives of farmers — and the people who depend on them — all over the world. Now, they are banned in two counties in Oregon. Voters in two Oregon counties have chosen to outlaw the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the productive Rogue Valley. Several places in California, Hawaii, Maine and Washington state also have bans in place, though the Oregon counties are the first in which GMOs had been actively cultivated. Farmers have a year to remove the genetically modified crops from their fields. Several states also have or are considering a requirement that food containing genetically modified crops be labeled. Read the full article.


(TOP) ~ Scientists forecast economic impacts of the drought on Central Valley agriculture

California’s drought will deal a severe blow to Central Valley irrigated agriculture and farm communities this year, and could cost the industry $1.7 billion and cause more than 14,500 workers to lose their jobs, according to preliminary results of a new study by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. Researchers estimated that Central Valley irrigators would receive only two-thirds of their normal river water deliveries this year because of the drought. Read more.

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ NSF Appropriations

Last week, the House Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS) approved its fiscal year 2015 spending bill. The CJS bill sets funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in addition to many other programs. The House approved a 3.2% increase for NSF, bringing the total to $7.41 billion. Yesterday, the Senate marked up its CJS bill giving NSF an increase of 1.1 %, for a total of $7.25 billion, which is essentially the President’s budget request. The Senate CJS bill will go to the full appropriations committee floor on Thursday for a vote. Both chambers hope to bring their bills to a full vote before the August recess. After that, the two numbers will have to be reconciled in a conference, which is not likely to take place until after the November elections.


(TOP) ~ FIRST Act

Last week, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a markup of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act, which would authorize funding for NSF, OSTP, federal STEM education programs, and NIST. Committee members offered several amendments in an effort to delete or alter provisions of the bill they (and a number of university groups and scientific societies) found problematic, including amendments that would strike NSF funding authorizations by directorate and get rid of a mandate that NSF certify all grants are in the national interest. This bill was approved on May 28 along a party-line vote. Read more here.


(TOP) ~ USDA Seeks Partnerships to Protect Soil and Water

Last week, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is teaming with businesses, nonprofits and others on a five-year, $2.4 billion program that will fund locally designed soil and water conservation projects nationwide. Authorized by the new farm law enacted earlier this year, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program is intended to involve the private sector more directly in planning and funding environmental protection initiatives tied to agriculture. Read the full article

Sources: USDA; NSF; DOE; The Washington Post; The Chicago Council; IFLS; UC Davis News, AAAS; ScienceInsider; AGI; ABC News

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.