Nobel laureates urge congress to stop budget cuts to scientific research

A group of 58 U.S. Nobel laureates issued a letter to Congress on Tuesday recommending the preservation of federal funding to long-term scientific research for the 2014 fiscal year budget.

According to the letter, written by Burton Richter, the winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, the sequestration cuts may cause the U.S. to fall behind other countries in the development of science and technology. President Obama released the FY2014 budget on Wednesday, which would cut funding for scientific research and development agencies including the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

"There is a bipartisan agreement on the importance of federal funding of long-term scientific research," Richter said. "The agreement exists because of recognition that this sort of research fuels the innovation engine that is essential to our economy. The entire federal research, development and demonstration enterprise amounts today to about one percent of our Gross Domestic Product and has steadily fallen over the years, while our rivals in Europe and Asia invest more."

Fifty-eight U.S. Nobel laureates signed Richter's letter. Richter highlighted the importance of long-term scientific funding for future generations in the correspondence.

"We Nobel laureates are likely to do well in competition for a reduced level of funding," Richter said. "Our concern is for the younger generation who will be behind the innovations and earn the prizes of the future."

The Federation of American Scientists released the letter this week.

"The United States has far surpassed other nations in Nobel Prize winners in the sciences," Charles Ferguson, the president of FAS, said. "The ability to foster such talent will be undermined with continued erosion of federal support. FAS is proud to circulate this letter on behalf of Dr. Richter and the Nobel Laureates to raise awareness of potential budget cuts to the United States science industry and future generations of scientists."

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