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That Paperwork, Though

The US National Institutes of Health opposes a bill wending its way through Congress aimed at making government advisory committees more transparent, Science reports.

At hand, it says, is the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act, which sets rules for how committee members are chosen and how meetings are run. But, it says there have been complaints for years that agencies are circumventing these rules, leading lawmakers to want to reform the act, Science adds, noting that Representative William Lacy Clay (D–Mo.) has repeatedly sponsored such a bill.

But, NIH opposes the bill, Science says. The agency argues that the bill's provision to classify panel members "special government employees" would burden panelists with paperwork, including conflict of interest statements.

According to Science, Research! America's Mary Woolley and Friends of Cancer Research's Jeff Allen warned last year that this could "hamstring" the NIH peer review process as well as slow Food and Drug Administration evaluations.

Clay tells Science, though, that the bill has exemptions for NIH, but that exempting all Department of Health and Human Services panels is not possible.

The Union of Concerned Scientists' Andrew Rosenberg argues at his organization's blog that "these amendments go in the right direction."

"Spending a little time on disclosure will not go amiss," he adds.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.