Posted on 12/12/2012 at 12:04:08 PM by Suzanne PriceBy Sarah Ohlhost, ASN Director of Government Relations
On January 2, 2013, most Federal programs, including both defense and non-defense, will undergo automatic cuts of at least 8% to reduce the federal deficit. NIH will be cut by $2.8 billion and will issue 2,300 fewer grants (25 percent of the total that would have otherwise been funded) because of it. These cuts are the result of a “sequestration” to uniformly cut $1.2 trillion from the budget. Although many federal agencies have already experienced flat or reduced funding in recent years, sequestration cuts will severely limit progress in nutrition research in ways that we have yet to see. These cuts can be avoided if Congress and the President can agree on an alternative approach to deficit reduction. While budget cuts may still be necessary to reduce the federal deficit, a more balanced approach can be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans and the U.S. economy, as well as the field of nutrition. With just weeks remaining, they have yet to resolve how to avoid sequestration.
The consequences of sequestration are dire for nutrition: Critical research programs will be immobilized, jobs will be lost and labs may close, and the economy will ultimately suffer. Innovative discoveries in disease prevention and treatment will remain firmly out of our grasp; health care costs will rise, causing our economy to suffer greatly. Students will likely be discouraged to pursue careers in nutrition research due to the significant lack of funding for education and training. Young investigators will pursue more viable options, causing nutrition research to suffer for many years beyond those under the sequestration. The U.S. will lose traction as a leader in scientific discovery and will not be competitive on a global scale.
Educating members of Congress on the negative impacts of sequestration is crucial. ASN President Dr. Teresa Davis participated in FASEB's Capitol Hill Day on December 4 to educate lawmakers on the devastating impact of sequestration. What can YOU do? If you haven't already responded to ASN and FASEB's action alerts, take a few minutes to urge Congress to protect nutrition research funding and ensure that sequestration does not take place on January 2. House and Senate offices want to hear how sequestration will affect research activities in their states and districts. Educate members of Congress on the important research and work that you do each day to improve public health and how it will be negatively impacted by the significant budget cuts sequestration brings. Congress needs to hear from the people that matter most to them - their constituents. It's easy to make your voice heard - fill in your contact information and click “Send Message” to email your Senators and Representatives. You can personalize the email messages to show how research funding cuts will affect you and your work. As a constituent and scientist, you are in a unique position to gain your Senators and Representatives support for maintaining the federal commitment to research.