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In an attempt to boost Argentina's beleaguered scientific system, the Argentine government has agreed to allow US$14 million designated for research loans to be used as direct grants.

The money — from an international loan — will allow the cash-strapped Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica to catch up on delayed grant payments and even start a new competition.

Unfortunately, however, the grants have lost 70 per cent of their value due to the peso's slide following the country's economic crisis in December. But scientists say that the funds will still be helpful to researchers whose labs have run out of money.

Reference: Science 297, 495 (2002)