BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.


Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
TodayBBC Radio 4

Today
Listen Again
Latest Reports
Interview of the Week
About Today
Today at 50
Message Board
Contact Today

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 
Weekdays 6-9am and Saturdays 7-9am How to listen to Today
Latest Reports

Science Funding

PRINT VERSION


Roger HarrabinRoger Harrabin
Who should set the priorities for the science research carried out with taxpayers’ money? That’s a question we’ve been examining through a series of interviews and features.

LISTEN
Should more funding go into alternative research - such as gardening? Professor Colin Blakemore
LISTEN
Roger Harrabin at a healthy living festival in Warwickshire and Prof. Edzard Ernst.
LISTEN
Are we failing in science because the bodies with the money for research won't take risks? Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury.
LISTEN
Nobel prize-winning Sydney Brenner - drug research simply puts profits into the hands of pharmaceutical firms - and public health education would save more lives for less cost.
Lord Sainsbury

The Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury.
USEFUL LINKS

Research Councils UK

Should science be 'democratised'? Rupert Sheldrake


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

DNA

Conventional research is prioritised.
organic food

Many shoppers choose organic - do scientists?
Should priorities be set by government ministers and distinguished scientists best able to judge the merits of an application? Or is an old guard of establishment scientists stifling innovation and ignoring research of interest to the public?

The Nobel prize-winning gene biologist Sydney Brenner told us that genetic medical research funding had been captured by pharmaceutical firms for their own profit. He said too much emphasis was being placed on genetically-tailored cures for self-induced problems like obesity. Public health education was more important than research into genetically-tailored cures.

Prof Brenner condemned the commercialisation of science funding and said peer review was leading to mediocre science. Many Nobel prize-winners from the past would not be able to succeed today because they would be asked to deliver results before they had time to ask the right scientific questions, he said. Talented young scientists were being denied funds because they did not have a track record.

The Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury agreed that public health policies were vitally important. He said recent changes to science funds meant that blue skies research should be supported more effectively.

Two separate features raised questions of whether the allocation of funds for medical and agricultural research really matched the interests of the public.

Although 25% of people use complementary medicine, the government confirmed to us that complementary medicine receives around 0.001% (one thousandth) of its health research funds (£1.6 million a year against £1.4 billion a year.) British researchers are now bidding for funds from the US government complementary medicine budget of $100,000.

Europe’s only professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst from Exeter University, told us that much more research funding was needed – partly to confirm whether traditional cures were efficacious, but also to ensure that they are not harmful.

In agriculture, organic farming is popular with the public and genetic modification unpopular. Yet organic receives less than one hundredth of government research funds, and a fraction of the amount of biotech. Organic gardening research receives nothing.


Back to Reports Homepage

Latest Reports

Back to Latest Reports Homepage

Audio Archive
Missed a programme? Or would you like to listen again?
Try last 7 days below or visit the Audio Archive page:

Saturday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Today | Listen Again | Latest Reports | Interview of the Week | About Today | Today at 50 | Have Your Say | Contact Today



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy