Store

Science Policy Report

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

Note: Due to the August recess there will be no SPR on August 12 or 26. The next SPR will be posted on September 9.

Thank you, The Science Policy Office team.

13 February 2013

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ Project helps Canadian farms reduce fertilizer-related emissions
~ Agriculture groups shore up financing for seed banks to help farmers adapt
~ Trust, not self-sufficiency, will help create a more food-secure world
~ NOAA predicts minimal El Niño impact this spring
~ NASA launches environment-tracking satellite

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Water Sustainability and Climate
~ Center for Produce Safety Research
~ U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security
~ U.S. Borlaug Graduate Research
~ Pollution Prevention Information Network (PPIN)
~ Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, Chesapeake Watershed
~ Fiscal Year 2013 Chesapeake Bay Fisheries Science
~ ROSES 2012: Ecological Forecasting for Conservation and Natural Resource Management
~ ROSES 2012: Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science
~ Organic Transitions Program
~ Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Childhood Obesity Prevention

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ Call for nominations for PAESMEM
~ Stanford scientists create tool to map melting permafrost
~ USDA reports on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for ag and forests
~ Graduate student video on sequestration wins prize
~ Video Editorial Campaign: Stop the Sequester
~ NACEPT; Notice of Advisory Committee Meeting
~ Obama admin releases first-ever climate adaptation plans

Congressional/Administration News

~ Appropriators say sequester creates hurdles in writing new spending bills
~ New budget timeline: a way forward for farm bill?
~ Salazar predicts easy confirmation for Jewell, reflects on to-do list
~ Energy Secretary Chu announces his return to academia
~ Harkin, Blunt launch Senate caucus
~ Kaptur bill would protect seed patents, farmers

International Corner


(TOP) ~ Project helps Canadian farms reduce fertilizer-related emissions

In the bigger scheme of things, farms are not considered big greenhouse gas emitters. But according to Environment Canada, farms account for 10 percent of the country's emissions. For this reason, Alberta's Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. (which collects fees from companies that exceed their greenhouse gas limits) gave a $200,000 boost to a project aimed at cutting these emissions. When fertilizers are used, greenhouse gases are released in the form of nitrous oxide. The newly funded Farming 4R Land project aims to teach Alberta farmers how to best apply fertilizers to avoid unnecessary nitrous gases from reaching the atmosphere. The project is led by the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, which represents the fertilizing industry.


(TOP) ~ Agriculture groups shore up financing for seed banks to help farmers adapt

gcdt-logoThe DNA of the world's food crops just got a little more secure. Two leading agricultural organizations, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and CGIAR (formerly known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Consortium, have agreed to invest $109 million over the next five years in the world's seed banks, which maintain 706,000 samples of seeds and vegetative material. Most of the funds will go into maintenance and regular operations in the seed banks at 11 CGIAR research centers around the world. The majority of the money, 87 percent, will come from the CGIAR Fund. The primary function of a seed bank is to preserve viable genetic material of as many plants as possible. In the event of a weather- or pest-related disaster, scientists can choose seeds from this diverse material and distribute them to farmers to regenerate their crops. Seeds are chosen for their resilience to the particular type of threat faced.


(TOP) ~ Trust, not self-sufficiency, will help create a more food-secure world

In this opinion piece, Emery Koenig, the executive vice president and chief risk officer of Cargill, writes that in order to achieve global food security, governments must trust the markets, and businesses need to earn that trust. Koenig notes that in this time of disequilibrium in agricultural markets, there is a growing, misguided belief that self-sufficiency will somehow lead to food security. The result, he argues, is actually the opposite. Suppressing prices, hoarding supplies, or banning imports or exports, actually puts pressure on prices and exacerbates access issues. Koenig says, we should encourage free trade in a fair, rules-based, rigorously enforced system, so that governments can help ensure food surpluses reach areas of deficit. Read full article


(TOP) ~ NOAA predicts minimal El Niño impact this spring

El Niño shouldn't cause significant weather problems for the Northern Hemisphere through spring, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly report, but it is uncertain how the climate phenomenon will affect weather during this upcoming summer. The report does say that oceanic and atmospheric temperature variations increased in January. But "despite these transient features contributing to cool conditions, the collective atmospheric and oceanic system reflects ENSO (El Niño)-neutral," said NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in a statement. El Niño causes a number of destructive weather events, such as flooding and heavy rains in the Americas and drought in Southeast Asia and Australia.


(TOP) ~ NASA launches environment-tracking satellite

NASA has launched its latest Earth-observation satellite, continuing a four-decade effort to record environmental change around the world. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is a joint NASA-U.S. Geological Survey project that has been continuously tracking forest loss, glacial retreat and urban buildup since July 1972, when the first of the program's now-eight satellites was launched. The $855 million spacecraft launched will extend the program by at least 10 years. Landsat 8 will aid scientists and policymakers in understanding how the increasing population is affecting the planet.  "LDCM will continue to describe the human impact on Earth and the impact of Earth on humanity, which is vital for accommodating 7 billion people on our planet," LDCM project manager Ken Schwer, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center said. Landsat 8 will examine Earth using two sensitive instruments. The operational land imager will collect data in visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared wavelengths. The thermal infrared sensor will detect surface temperatures across the planet.

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ Water Sustainability and Climate

nsf-logoThe National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking grant funding proposals under its Water Sustainability and Climate program which seeks to enhance the understanding and predict the interactions between the water system and land use changes (including agriculture, managed forest and rangeland systems), the built environment, ecosystem function and services and climate change/variability through place-based research and integrative models. Studies of the water system using models and/or observations at specific sites, singly or in combination, that allow for spatial and temporal extrapolation to other regions, as well as integration across the different processes in that system are encouraged, especially to the extent that they advance the development of theoretical frameworks and predictive understanding. Deadline 10 Sep. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Center for Produce Safety Research

The Center for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis, is seeking grant funding applications for general and commodity-specific research aimed at addressing the fresh produce industry's food safety research needs. Core (produce-general) research priorities endeavor to better understand risk potential and to develop more effective food safety management tools in the following areas: Compost, Soil Amendment Fertilizer Use, and Cultivation Practices; Buffer Zones from Domestic Animals to Fruit and Vegetable Production; Co-management of Food Safety and the Environment; Agricultural Water; Climate, Environment, and Production Practices; Harvest and Cooling Practices; Pathogen Transfer from Water during Postharvest Handling and Processing; Pathogen Survival in the Postharvest Distribution Chain. Deadline 28 Mar. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security

The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Program will hold its second annual Summer Institute on Global Food Security Tuesday, May 28- Saturday, June 8, 2013 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. This two-week learning program is for graduate students who are interested in developing a holistic understanding of the conceptual challenges around global food security with a focus on cross-disciplinary problem solving of real-world development challenges. Applicants must have completed at least one semester of graduate study and be enrolled in a U.S. institution at the time of application. U.S. citizenship is not required. Deadline 4 Mar. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ U.S. Borlaug Graduate Research

The U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security graduate research grant supports exceptional graduate students who are interested in developing a component of their graduate research in a developing country setting and in collaboration with a mentor from an International Agricultural Research Center (IARC) or a qualifying National Agricultural Research System (NARS) unit. U.S. citizenship is required, and applicants must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. graduate program at the time of application. Deadline 1 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Pollution Prevention Information Network (PPIN)

The Pollution Prevention Information Network (PPIN) grant program funds regional centers that serve both regional and national pollution prevention (P2) information needs. Grantees determine audience needs and then supply quality information and training on source reduction and related P2 practices. Grantees provide assistance and training to businesses whose lack of information may be an impediment to implementing source reduction, preventing pollution or adopting sustainable practices. Grantee activities must support regional P2 priorities and the national P2 information network. Proposals must describe P2 outputs and projected P2 outcomes for all activities. The work plan must describe how progress towards achieving the expected environmental outcomes will be measured. Deadline 5 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, Chesapeake Watershed

The US Geological Survey is offering a funding opportunity to a CESU partner for research in understanding effects of land management and ecosystem disturbances on capacity and vulnerability of carbon stocks and sequestration is a key requirement of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Deadline 15 Feb. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Fiscal Year 2013 Chesapeake Bay Fisheries Science

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) is accepting grant funding applications for projects to quantify changes in nitrogen levels (including denitrification and nitrogen sequestration) over the annual cycle in sub-tidal restored oyster reefs (compared to rates in unrestored areas); quantify how restored oyster reefs support fishery productivity; and examine how habitat, species interactions, climatic variability, and adjacent land use affect key Chesapeake fish species (striped bass, menhaden, and/or alosines). Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, other nonprofits, commercial organizations, foreign governments, organizations under the jurisdiction of foreign governments, international organizations, and state, local and Indian tribal governments. Deadline 5 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ ROSES 2012: Ecological Forecasting for Conservation and Natural Resource Management

This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. The NRA covers all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences. Deadline 18 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ ROSES 2012: Interdisciplinary Research in Earth Science

This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Planetary Science. Awards range from under $100K per year for focused, limited efforts (e.g., data analysis) to more than $1M per year for extensive activities (e.g., development of science experiment hardware). The funds available for awards in each program element offered in this ROSES NRA range from less than one to several million dollars, which allow selection from a few to as many as several dozen proposals depending on the program objectives and the submission of proposals of merit. Deadline 1 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Organic Transitions Program

The overall goal of the Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. In FY 2013, ORG will continue to prioritize environmental services provided by organic farming systems in the area of soil conservation and climate change mitigation, including greenhouse gases (GHG). Practices and systems to be addressed include those associated with organic crops, organic animal production, and organic systems integrating plant and animal production. Deadline 5 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Childhood Obesity Prevention

This challenge area focuses on the societal challenge to end obesity among children, the number one nutrition-related problem in the US. Food is an integral part of the process that leads to obesity and USDA has a unique responsibility for the food system in the United States. This program is designed to achieve the long-term outcome of reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents 2-19 years. The Childhood Obesity Program supports Multi-function Integrated Research, Education, and/or Extension Projects and Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) Grants. Deadline 11 Apr. Read full announcement

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ Call for nominations for PAESMEM

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) is a Presidential award established by the White House in 1995. The purpose of the award is to recognize U.S. citizens or permanent residents and U.S. organizations that have demonstrated excellence in mentoring individuals from groups that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce. The PAESMEM program is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Nominations, including self-nominations, are invited for Individual and Organizational PAESMEM awards. Nominations are encouraged from all geographical regions in the U.S., particularly jurisdictions designated by Congress under NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Deadline 5 Jun. Get more information


(TOP) ~ Stanford scientists create tool to map melting permafrost

taliks-imageWith the same technology doctors use to visualize the inside of the human body, Stanford University scientists have developed a new way to detect layers of melted water in the Arctic permafrost. Called "taliks," these layers contain large amounts of methane, which can leak from the frozen permafrost and are a major source of greenhouse gas. As ancient frozen plant matter slowly melts, it decays and releases the carbon it has stored for centuries. The new technique was detailed in a report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Geophysicist Andrew Parsekian and his colleagues adapted MRI technology to map pools of liquid water inside the permafrost under two Arctic lakes. But instead of bringing in a large, powerful magnet as with MRI machines, the scientists used the Earth's own magnetic field. The technology could allow scientists to learn how quickly and to what extent the permafrost thaw is contributing to global warming.


(TOP) ~ USDA reports on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for ag and forests

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released two comprehensive reports that synthesize the scientific literature on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for U.S. agriculture and forests. The reports, entitled 'Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation and the Effects of Climate Variability' and 'Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector,' were created as inputs to the National Climate Assessment. Scientists from the federal service, universities, non-governmental organizations, industry, tribal lands and the private sector contributed to the peer-reviewed studies. The reports indicate how climate change is affecting U.S. farms, forests, grasslands, and rural communities. While U.S. agriculture and resource management have long histories of successful adaptation to climate variability, the accelerating pace and intensity of climate change presents new challenges to be addressed, as highlighted in the reports. See full climate change report and See full forest report


(TOP) ~ Graduate student video on sequestration wins prize

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has announced the winner of its inaugural advocacy competition, Stand Up for Science. The competition solicited entries to demonstrate how federal research funding improves the health, quality of life, or economy of local communities in the United States. The winning entry was submitted by ‘Stand With Science,’ a group of graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their video, “What’s Next,” underscores the importance of federal funding to science and technology and highlights the adverse consequences that across the board spending cuts, also known as sequestration, could have on future, innovative research. View the video


(TOP) ~ Video Editorial Campaign: Stop the Sequester

With only a month remaining before the across-the-board cuts to the nation’s discretionary spending known as the sequester take effect, researchers across the country are sending an urgent message to Congress:  Stop the sequester or risk the loss of a generation of discoveries, cures, new companies and talent. Their individual messages are part of a new initiative by ScienceWorksForU.S., a project of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and The Science Coalition (TSC) to inform policymakers and the public of the devastating impact that the upcoming budget sequester will have on federal funding for university research. Already a relatively small portion of the federal budget, research funding will be cut by nearly $95 billion over the next nine years under sequestration. View the video editorials


(TOP) ~ NACEPT; Notice of Advisory Committee Meeting

The EPA National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) has scheduled a public meeting for March 7 and 8, 2013 in Washington, DC to discuss and approve draft recommendations in response to the National Academy of Sciences' report on 'Sustainability and the U.S. EPA.' NACEPT's second letter on sustainability will address two topics: (1) What strengths EPA can leverage to successfully deploy sustainability practices across the Agency, and (2) what 3-5 year breakthrough objectives are related to sustainability implementation and recommended measurement systems for assessing progress toward EPA's sustainability vision. The NACEPT provides advice to the EPA Administrator on a broad range of environmental policy, technology, and management issues. Get more information


(TOP) ~ Obama admin releases first-ever climate adaptation plans

The Obama administration released its first climate change adaptation plans, as part of the annual sustainability reports. This is the third year federal agencies have released the reports, a review of sustainability accomplishments and a guide for goals. In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514, which set targets for cutting waste and pollution from the administration's operations and required agencies to complete these reports. Many of the plans also lay the groundwork for actions that will cut not only pollution but costs in the face of the rising price tag of climate change. Take a look at the reports: EPA, USDA, DOD, Interior, NASA, Transportation, DOE, NOAA

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ Appropriators say sequester creates hurdles in writing new spending bills

Lawmakers hoping to write a bill to take the government beyond the current continuing resolution that expires March 27 say they can’t even begin their work until Congress chooses how to act, or whether to act all, to avert the automatic spending cuts. That’s because, they say, any deal on the sequester would almost certainly change the calculations for spending at a broad range of agencies, leaving budget experts no clear way to gauge how much money will be available across departments and programs. Members of the Appropriations committees in the House and Senate, who are most directly involved in talks to extend federal spending through the rest of the fiscal year, say the uncertainty over the sequester is handicapping their ability to write even a basic plan that would extend the current CR.


(TOP) ~ New budget timeline: a way forward for farm bill?

The Senate approved a bill to postpone the debt ceiling battle for four months, creating what the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) calls a triple-headed budget monster that will consume much of Washington’s time over the next four or five months. The outcomes will inform the budget parameters for the 2013 Farm Bill and 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bills, but will likely delay work on the new farm bill and appropriations bill until June at the earliest. The debt ceiling suspension runs out on May 18, so we should expect to see either a big budget deal that or some elaborate new version of Congress’s “kick the can down the road” game. One great irony, NSAC notes, of this budget mess is that if the 2012 Farm Bill had passed the farm bill savings would have been three to five times larger than what would automatically occur under sequestration. Read full article


(TOP) ~ Salazar predicts easy confirmation for Jewell, reflects on to-do list

sally-jewellInterior Secretary Ken Salazar has not decided when he will formally leave the government, but he doesn't expect to be sticking around too much longer. The outgoing secretary is predicting a quick and easy confirmation for his just-announced successor, REI chief Sally Jewell. Salazar predicted broad support from Democrats and Republicans but noted that he hasn't booked his flight back to Colorado just yet. Jewell's nomination was quickly praised by a variety of conservation and oil industry groups, among others although there were some indications she could face a hold from Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is concerned over Interior's opposition to allowing construction of a road through a wilderness area in her state.


(TOP) ~ Energy Secretary Chu announces his return to academia

Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced his plan to return to “an academic life of teaching and research” at the end of this month, and may possibly stay until a new secretary takes over.   President Obama has not named a successor. Chu has held this position since the beginning of the Obama Administration, serving longer than any other energy secretary.  In his February 1 letter to DOE employees, Chu described the department’s many responsibilities, explaining “The Department of Energy serves the country as a Department of Science, a Department of Innovation, and a Department of Nuclear Security.” Chu’s letter touched on many of the department’s accomplishments, including the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, SunShot Challenge, electric vehicles, renewable energy, clean energy, fossil fuel extraction, and climate change. Read full letter
 


(TOP) ~ Harkin, Blunt launch Senate caucus

After organizing lawmakers to promote Mississippi River interests when last year's drought lowered water levels, two senators have launched a bipartisan caucus aimed at keeping the world's largest navigable inland waterway in front of Congress. The Mississippi River caucus of Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) will focus on flood mitigation, the promotion of commerce and addressing other concerns of river communities. Mississippi River water levels dipped to near record lows for months last year, threatening to halt shipping and causing an uproar in the barge industry and among farmers and coal companies that rely on it.


(TOP) ~ Kaptur bill would protect seed patents, farmers

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH) says her legislation could provide a middle ground for companies such as Monsanto Co. that want to protect their patented seed from infringement and farmers who want to save and plant genetically engineered seed without fear of a conglomerate suing them. She filed the legislation again in January, making this the fourth Congress in which she has offered it. Her legislation would make the Agriculture Department the go-between for companies and farmers. The department would set and collect royalty fees from growers who register to plant first-generation patented seeds or their progeny saved from prior harvests. Additional duties would be placed on the product of patented seed imported from countries where royalty fees don’t exist or are lower than in the United States. Farmers who registered and paid fees could not be sued.

Sources: AGree; American Institute of Physics; Climatewire; Economic Research Service; Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC; Meridian Institute; National Science Foundation; National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; New York Times; San Francisco Chronicle; US Forest Service

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.