Despite rising food prices and restrictions on food exports the United States is planning to cut funding to international agricultural research, scientists claim.
In February this year officials from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) warned that a cut in funding was likely. The actual figure is yet to be announced, but it could be as much as 75 per cent according to a spokesperson from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
CGIAR have been told that 2008 USAID funding will prioritise health issues, leaving little for agriculture.
Science quotes Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, saying, "You couldn't ask for worse timing. Part of the reason we're having this deterioration of the global agricultural situation is that there has been a steady erosion of support for research."
Scientists have set up an online petition, calling for a reversal in research cuts, which will be sent to members of the US Congress and USAID administrators.