Science funding shows results

Writing for the Dominion Post‘s Business Day, Jon Morgan holds up solid new research as an example of why science findings is important.

You can read the full article from PLoS ONE here.

Excerpts (read in full here):

Science still the key to our future

Scientists by nature are cautious. The thoroughness of their methods teaches them that. Even when they arrive at a tried, tested and peer-reviewed result they are reluctant to speak in absolutes.

The word “breakthrough” is anathema to them. They would rather run naked across a Rugby World Cup pitch than use it.

So it was with some surprise that I saw “breakthrough” in the tag line of an email from the Crown science institute, AgResearch.

Delving into this news release, however, was like wading through treacle. Here’s an example: “scientists simply incubated skin cells in plasmid DNA encoding the pluripotency factors and watched the cells reprogramme back into an embryonic stem cell-like state”.

I was none the wiser, so I rang the scientist quoted, Bjorn Oback.

He stood by the breakthrough tag. And very patiently did his best to explain it to me.

The publication of this work, in the prestigious online scientific journal PLoS ONE, comes at a time when scientists are being made redundant because of government budget cuts.

Some months ago, I argued for making agriculture the centre of a national strategy that looks many years ahead. Science is a crucial part of that. We should be finding a way to retain these people, and looking at how their skills can fit into the agriculture research wish- list.

I know we have a big earthquake debt, but this genetic breakthrough shows that spending more money on scientists, not less, makes sense.