Us scientists recently protested the massive biodefence research funding by the us government since the 2001 anthrax attacks. They claimed it had adversely affected basic microbiological research. Biodefence funding at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (niaid) was raised from us$53 million in 2001 to us $1.4 billion in 2004. niaid is a part of the us government's National Institutes of Health (nih) . It deals with research on pathogens.
A group of 750 top scientists, comprising more than half of those working on bacterial and fungal pathogens, have written an open letter of complain to nih. They say too much attention to biodefence research has created "a crisis for microbiological research". us has spent loads of money to study bioweapons like bacteria that cause anthrax, plague and tularaemia and viruses like Ebola, Marburg and smallpox. But research on germs that are not weapon agents has suffered: the number of grants for such work decreased by 27 per cent between 1998 and 2005. "We are staging a no-confidence vote," said Richard Ebright of Rutgers University, New Jersey, who organised the protest.
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