The high cost of bacon, criminalizing scientists and the destruction of datasets – the shutdown and science

baconby cookbookman17

Science, Stalled
[Via The Scientist Magazine®]

As the government shutdown stretches into its  eighth day, academia appears to be taking up at least some of the scientific services left undone by shuttered federal agencies. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, and South Dakota State University, for example, are continuing to collect data on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, which is sweeping through US pig populations, as the Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) slumbers. Workers at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which had been tracking the spread of the deadly pathogen, were furloughed along with hundreds of thousands of federal employees, and the agency was forced to cease posting its weekly updates and testing results on the spread of PEDv to the NAHLN.

“It’s important to monitor the numbers, from the standpoint of having the information, and whether there are any large increases or decreases coming through” in positive PEDv cases, Tom Burkgren, executive direction of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, told Reuters. PEDv, which kills 75 to 100 percent of the young pigs it infects, has cropped up in 17 states so far, with most outbreaks occurring in Iowa and Oklahoma.


Noticed how the price of bacon has doubled recently? It is at an all time high.

Maybe people won’t get upset by the spread of Salmonella – “They should have cooked their chicken properly” – but how about a virus sweeping through pig populations with 100% mortality?That is a major reason bacon costs so much.

But no one will know how this is playing out in the 17 states involved because there is no one coordinating the efforts.

Also some scientists were told that if they presented as scheduled at conferences after the shutdown, they would be charged with Federal crimes and lose their jobs. So the flow of scientific information is being hampered.

And the researchers on Antarctica may have to come home right in the middle of their research season. This means that all sorts of data on things like soil organisms will not be collected. One researcher sated tht this would make their whole dataset “unintelligible”.

2 thoughts on “The high cost of bacon, criminalizing scientists and the destruction of datasets – the shutdown and science

    1. Yes, the law is quite explicit. If they are employed by any of the nation’s research labs, they cannot do any work if they are furloughed. That includes presenting their work at meetings. In fact, if they were found to have worked on a paper on their work during the time they were furloughed, they would be in violation of the law. Working on furlough has resulted in substantial repercussions for one;s career when it has happened before.

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