U.S. scientific societies and universities have sent a letter urging policymakers, in their need to cut spending, to avoid singling out specific programs.
The letter to key lawmakers preparing to debate the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 expresses the opposition of more than 140 groups to any attempts to eliminate or substantially reduce funding for particular research programs, a release from the American Association for the Advancement of Science said Tuesday.
Canceling specific grants or funding for entire scientific disciplines "sets a dangerous precedent that, in the end, will inhibit scientific progress and our international competitiveness," the letter said.
"Everyone understands that legislators face tremendous challenges related to the deficit and the national economy," said Joanne Carney, director of the Office of Government Relations at AAAS. "But recently, selected research areas have been unfairly trivialized based on misinformation intended to challenge the scientific review process."
Interdisciplinary research that integrates physical and biological sciences with insights from social and behavioral fields has become increasingly essential to scientific progress and innovation, Carney said.
Removal of support for key fields of research "could have a chilling effect on scientists and young people considering a future in science," the group said in its letter dated Monday.