Memorandum submitted by the Institute
Grants should be allocated across all professional
bodies providing technical information to Government on a rolling
three-year term to ensure that support staff are put in place
to provide the relevant information effectively.
Government should provide support on a regular
basis to fully fund conferences on important scientific issues,
subcontracting the organisation of the conference to the principal
Government should ensure that the quality of
work undertaken in the bioscience area is of the highest quality.
It should do that by:
(1) ensuring that all senior government bioscience
posts are held by qualified persons who would be expected to have
(2) ensuring that it is "best practice"
in government bioscience posts that staff follow a "Continuing
Professional Development" (CPD) programme
(3) industry should be encouraged to employ
qualified chartered bioscientists in key positions. This commitment
should be strengthened by ensuring that subcontracts externally
tendered also involve chartered bioscientists in responsible positions.
(4) promoting to universities, higher education
establishments, and schools the need for professionally qualified
employees who undertake CPD programmes of the like already established
by the Chartered Institutes. It should discourage splinter CPD
programmes that tend to confuse the already fragmented bioscience
Government should emphasise the need for a unified
bioscience profession and support that by providing funds to achieve
In all professions, promote a quality "kitemark"
of "Chartered Status" to the public. This in turn would
help to encourage people to join Chartered Bodies and so promote
the regulation of a standard of work across a wide spectrum of
the UK with little cost to the Exchequer.
Government should pay for the costs of Institutions
belonging to world wide bodies such as IUBS (International Union
of Biological Sciences) and ECBA (European Countries Biologists
Association) so that the UK has greater influence on the worldwide
A scheme to support information to and from
the EU should be established with Government resources.
A. The Institute of Biology receives no
recurrent funding from Government of any kind. We have received
modest (but welcome) occasional support for workshops.
B. Although the total funding for IoB may
seem modest, a huge amount of our output is provided by (unpaid)
volunteers. The public, the media and Government all benefit from
this to an incalculable extent.
C. We advise Government through:
(1) Responses to Select Committees:
we have produced more than 100 Responses
during the past four years. They cover topics ranging widely and
covering areas such as the need for a National Park around Loch
Lomond, GM Crop Separation, and Antibiotic Resistance. Hence they
inform many different Government Departments (Health, MAFF, DEFRA,
DfES, DTLR, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, etc).
Our expenditure on this is in excess
of £80k per annum. A modest amount of support (less than
£20k) is received from our Affiliated Societies for this.
The ultimate beneficiary is UK plc. The principal immediate beneficiary
is the Government, its Departments and Agencies as well as Parliament.
Although we have produced fewer of
these (eg Biological Weapons), a number of these have been published
in Journals directed at Parliamentarians (eg Science in Parliament,
Science and Public Affairs).
We also produce Discussion Papers
such as that on Long Term Environmental Research.
(3) Workshops to which Members of both Houses
of Parliament are invited. Recently these have included:
Diagnosis and Remote Sensing, The
Biology of Air Pollution, BioFuels, and Anti Infectives.
(4) Affiliated Societies Fora where Government
and their advisers regularly meet directly the Biological community.
We have hosted Lord May, Dr Michael Clarke, Lord Sainsbury and
the Chief Executives of relevant Research Councils.
D. We communicate science to the public
(1) Branch meetingsmany of which are
open to the public. Several run in collaboration with BAAS, IoP,
(2) Schools events, lectures, competitions,
of which the BBO (British Biology Olympiad) is biggest. We sponsor
speakers at events during National Science Week and at schools
and universities throughout the year.
(3) Informing the public through Biology
teachers. The Journal of Biological Education reaches more than
30 per cent of all relevant schools in the UK.
E. We represent UK overseas through membership
of the European Countries Biologists Association (ECBA) and the
International Union of Biological Scientists (IUBS). We are responsible
for selecting, training and escorting the UK team to the International
We spend nearly £20k per annum on this,
but note that the Royal Society received direct Government funding
to enable it to undertake such representation on behalf of the
10 per cent of our membership live overseas
and cover a total of 96 different countries. In many (particularly
less developed) countries, IoB is the only representative biological
F. We would wish to do more:
(1) Produce proactive briefing papers eg
Biological Weapons, Antibiotic Resistance, Climate Change, Vaccination,
and Food Supplementation.
We suggest that Government Departments and Agencies
invite organisations such as IoB to tender for such activities.
(2) More events for schools and local populations.
Once again, we would be happy to carry this out
under contract and regard it as an area that is sadly deficient
(3) More workshops on topical, policy driven
topics such as energy sustainability, food and farming, stem cell
research, the impact of climate change, conservation of biodiversity,
GM crops and food in order to engage the public in discussion.
(4) More public events to stimulate informed
debate on controversial issues such as embryo research, intensive
farming, and complementary medicine. These would often be run
in collaboration with other cognate organisations such as the
BAAS, RSC, IoP, RI, with all of whom we have a close working relationship.
We are only one of the few independent voices
left and also one of the few bodies endowed with a Royal Charter.
We are therefore in a unique position to facilitate and implement
such public involvement.
G. We are co-ordinating the biological community
through our Affiliated Societies and through the development of
a Federation of Life Sciences.
This enables the Government to access the Biological
Community as easily as it can access Chemistry and Physics.
We have invested large amounts of our funds
on this during the past four years.
We note the provision of funds to enable the
Royal Academy of Engineering to carry out such work. We suggest
that we should be allowed to bid for similar support to catalyse
the development of such a focus for Biology.
H. We do not believe that it would be appropriate
for Government to provide core funding for organisations such
as IoB. It would undermine our independence and hence actually
diminish our usefulness. However, Government does contract for
advice and currently does this outwith the professional and learned
bodies. They should become a central focus for providing such