Targeted. INFN President Fernando Ferroni (left), shown here on a tour of the Gran Sasso lab with Senate President Renato Schifani (center), says the proposed cuts are “outrageous.”
Italian scientists are up in arms over proposed budget cuts at over a dozen national research institutes as part of a spending review announced on 6 July that will strike €26 billion from the national government’s budget. Among the hardest-hit is the flagship National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), whose researchers made important contributions to last week’s discovery of the Higgs boson.
“News about these cuts came out of the blue, and it’s outrageous,” says INFN President Fernando Ferroni, who would see his €278 million budget cut by 3.8% this year and by another 10% both in 2013 and 2014. “I believe that this … is the best way to kill INFN,” adds particle physicist Fabiola Gianotti, the spokesperson of ATLAS, one of two experiments that nailed the elusive particle at the Large Hadron Collider at the European particle physics laboratory, CERN.
The cuts would mean the end of the National Research Institute for Food and Nutrition (INRAN), as part of a reorganization of the Agency for Payments and Intervention in Agriculture. That means the country is losing “its only independent institute in the field of nutrition research, and a major Italian hub,” says Giuditta Perozzi, an INRAN scientist who’s helping set up an international petition. The institute’s demise would greatly impair Italy’s role within trans-national research programs, she says.