The United States is a world leader in agriculture research, including approaches to reduce animal and plant diseases and increase agricultural productivity—topics that are of particular interest in Russia. Countries other than the United States also have strong agricultural research activities. However, the breadth of experience available in the United States often provides more complete coverage of areas of priority concern to Russia than experience of other countries. Recent bioengagement in this area has been beneficial for both countries, as discussed in Chapter 4. This cooperation provides a basis for future efforts.
The United States has more experience than Russia in the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops into large-scale production. If the Russian government increases its interest in encouraging developments in this field, the approaches of the United States to evaluate food safety and to limit environmental effects can be helpful to both Russian scientists and regulators. Important Russian scientists are particularly hopeful that the positive U.S. experiences will counter some of the misleading European commentary about GM organisms. Many protocols for carrying out both research activities and for introducing new GM crops into production have been well developed and adopted in the United States, and they can provide models for Russian approaches.10
The U.S. government and indeed many of the nation’s scientists active in biological research and biotechnology have embraced the concept of responsible research in the life sciences. Exchanges can help Russian scientists join the international dialogues on this topic. Also, bioengagement can quickly lead to new insights about recent international developments concerning the handling of pathogens that should help avoid missteps in Russia.
Finally, for many Russian scientists, one of the most important aspects of engagement is the opportunity to upgrade skills in research management. The transition from Soviet-style management to western-style management has not been easy. Twenty-two years after the splintering of the Soviet Union, Russian researchers and their mentors in the universities and at research institutes are still in the early stages of mastering new management skills. These personal capabilities need to be compatible with decentralized planning and free market economies while taking into account traditions and practices in Russia. In short, research planning, execution, and evaluation often improve during joint activities.
Benefits for Both Countries
Investigations of outbreaks of contagious diseases are a priority activity in both countries. The likelihood of major scientific advances in addressing widespread concerns will be increased through coordination of parallel efforts of the two countries, as an important component of the broader international effort. A bilateral commitment to sustain these parallel efforts and share their results over the long term can improve the prospects for important advances.
Of particular importance are activities of outstanding young scientists and