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UK development policy is not ignoring science

I welcome SciDev.Net and its readers' contribution to the debate about the future direction of UK development policy. The Department for International Development's (DFID) aim has been to provoke discussion and challenge current thinking.

But your editorial (see Is DFID deaf to the need for science?) is wrong to say that the debate does not consider science and technology — it certainly does.

Science has been integral to the consultation process surrounding DFID's new white paper on UK aid policy, and we have consulted leading international scientists about which areas the white paper should address. I am sure that some of SciDev.Net's readers will have made their own contribution too.

The UK believes science and technology are fundamental to making poverty history, which is why DFID will increase its investment in research to £136 million a year by 2007. In 2005 Gordon Conway was appointed as DFID's chief scientist to ensure that science and technology are recognised throughout our work in over 40 countries.

I remain committed to taking forward the promises made at last year's G8 Summit, including using the power of science to fight poverty. The new white paper will reinforce this message when it is published later this summer.