Nov 2, 2017 at 10:45am ET By Joanna Hughes

Scientists in Brazil are begging the government to restore funding or risk the imminent shutdown of research institutions. Here’s a closer look at budget cuts to research, along with they’re jeopardizing the future of research in Brazil. 

“On Life Support”

According to Science, federal funding for science and technology has dropped by more than half over the past half-decade to its lowest level in modern history. While the science ministry began the year with an already-low $1.8 billion budget, President Michel Temer later slashed that by 44 percent while instituting a spending cap of $1 billion.

This has left many research institutions without funding for even the most essential needs, including electricity and equipment maintenance. And while the federal government responded to the emergency by designating an addition $150 million allowance to the science ministry, insiders say it falls far short of what’s needed to survive the year.

Understanding the Impact

Earlier this fall, more than 150 scientific organizations joined forces to warn lawmakers about the “grave consequences” for the country’s social and economic development caused by the “drastic reduction.” Said Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science president Ildeu Moreira, “The situation is dramatic, and is likely to get worse in 2018.”

National Laboratory for Scientific Computing director Augusto Gadelha echoed that additional cuts forecast for 2018 would lead to the “dismantling of everything that was accomplished through dozens of years of investment,” reports Science.

Students are already feeling the brunt of the cuts with thousands of scholarships in jeopardy, research grants going unpaid, and requests for funding proposals eliminated. The results? Students and scientists alike are turning elsewhere. One neuroscientist and lab head told Nature, “In my group I have several people who have left or are about to leave for good, with no plans to come back. I can’t keep a skeleton colony of students.”

 

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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