University research projects could be axed and scientists laid off as the result of a Pounds 4 million cut in the research budget of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
The cut, partly due to the fact that the Maff did less well in the comprehensive spending review, is due to take effect from next year. It could affect Maff-funded research carried out in universities and in Maff laboratories and institutes across the country. There are fears that key research associated with food safety will be stopped.
A spokesman for the Maff said that research into areas such as BSE, scrapie and other key food chain diseases would remain top priorities. He said that much of the work on food safety would be taken over by the new Food Standards Agency from next April.