Author: Jay Bassan

Brexit Will Scare Away Scientists, Even if the Funding Remains

2016 was the year of astounding election results.  Although 45’s win certainly takes the prize for the biggest shock to complacent liberals, the Brexit vote put almost every aspect of the UK’s future in a haze of uncertainty.  Only after the ballots were counted did many “Remainers” begin to contemplate the tangible effects Brexit could have: reduced freedom of movement, legitimization of xenophobia, and undermined diplomatic relations between the UK and EU member states.  We also must consider the effect of Brexit on research. Not only does the EU fund million-pound research projects but Europe, along with rest of the world, provides the most valuable resource for science: great minds. As a British scientist working in Canada, my country’s rejection of international partnership felt somewhat personal.  The message was isolationist, irrational, and spiteful.  Storms of hate had been whipped up by blatant campaign lies, including the now-infamous “Let’s give our National Health Service the £350 million the EU takes every week”.  But what would be the fate of science funding in the UK?  Between 2007 …

Biting the Hand that Feeds Them

Russia’s embargo on agricultural imports: who wins, who loses, and what it all means On August 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a list of bans on agricultural imports from countries that have recently imposed sanctions on Russia. These retaliatory measures are part of a series of tit-for-tat moves set in motion by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in April 2014 and the Kremlin’s subsequent support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the embargo, effective immediately, would be valid for one year. It covers imports of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and dairy products from the US, Australia, Canada, Norway, and the 28 countries of the EU.   Adding insult to injury The effect that these bans will have on each economy is uncertain. David Cohen, US Treasury undersecretary for financial intelligence, says the biggest loser will be Russia. “What the Russians have done here,” he said, “is essentially impose sanctions on their own people.” The Russian economy is already not as strong as Putin makes it out to be. …