In his Editorial “Quo vadis, Mexican science?” (26 July, p. 301), A. Lazcano expressed concern about cuts to the budget of the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) and questioned my leadership of the organization. The data summarized here should allay Lazcano’s concerns.
In Mexico, the total budget for science, technology, and innovation (STI) in 2019 (77.3 billion MP) was the highest it has been in 7 years (1–3). Despite the 2.4 billion MP cut to CONACYT’s funding in 2019, an efficient administration and coordination among federal sectors that receive STI resources have redirected other funds to support the scientific community more than ever (1–3).
During previous years, there was limited or no support for basic science, and many high-quality proposals went unfunded. In 2019, 1.6 billion MP have been assigned to be transferred to fund high-rated peer-reviewed basic science projects (3). Calls for novel technological development and innovation approaches were recently announced. In addition, interdisciplinary projects geared toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be published soon; they address pressing challenges such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common cause of mortality in Mexican children (4–6).
CONACYT allocated 5.65 billion MP to support Mexico’s 27 public research centers in 2019 (1–3). By optimizing the use of such public resources, we are committed to improving conditions at these research centers. Additionally, all Mexican scientists are protected by the social health insurance system, and their private health insurance has been maintained in public universities.
Lazcano worries that our changes could “extinguish international collaborations… and fuel a brain drain.” However, all students and scientists may continue to travel for scientific and educational goals as usual. Moreover, CONACYT has allocated more than 10 billion MP (41% of the total budget) to fund ongoing and new fellowships for Mexican graduate students and postgraduate researchers in national and international programs and to continue supporting international graduates and postgraduates to study in Mexico (1–3). Furthermore, 1.11 billion MP have been directed to support early career scientists. Finally, the National System of Researchers, administrated by CONACYT, complements the salary of over 30,000 colleagues at all levels of career development. This year, CONACYT has accepted over 3000 additional members through collegiate procedures (1–3).
As a scientist, I would have never dared to ask for restrictions or, even worse, to exclude peer review or collegiate decisions, as Lazcano alleges. In contrast, we are proposing more rigorous evaluation mechanisms and regulations. These will be included in the new legal framework under discussion among scientists, students, technologists, entrepreneurs, and the public.
Lazcano claims that I am opposed to “hegemonic rational Western science.” Proudly trained in Mexican and U.S. universities, I am convinced of the fundamental role of (Western) STI to face global challenges. However, in some cases where western development has fallen short, the diverse and deep cultures at the roots of our country could provide new approaches and valuable knowledge.
References and Notes