Wild guinea pigs and domesticated “dumbed down” guinea pigs are equally capable of solving and navigating a water maze.

Wow, isn’t that hot news? Why do I care, or why should you care? I don’t really know or understand, but some outfit with what sounds like a legitimate name, BioMed Central, based in Germany, provided this historical finding to me via an e-mail news release. I don’t even want to waste my time to fully investigate this topic or the legitimacy of the organization. I’ll accept it at face value as being legitimate.

First of all, if you’ve read anything I’ve written in the past 20 years, it has almost exclusively been about crops and agronomy with a connection to livestock production mainly in terms of growing food and feed. You think you get a boat load of e-mails? You haven’t seen anything until you see the e-mails I receive because I’m an “agriculture” magazine editor.

OK, back to the guinea pigs and my thoughts that this might be waste-of-money research. This research is one that would hit the list of congressional wasted money if it had been completed in the U.S. But I’m not going to suggest that what sounds like stupid research won’t pay dividends at some point in the future. Much of what seems stupid fits into a larger picture of learning about our universe.

I receive news releases that are filled with scientific jargon explaining research results. They often make my head spin. The guinea pig new release was straight forward and simple to understand—probably too straight forward so that it easily could become the target of attacks.

I’m going to suggest that most scientific research begins with a concept that could eventually result in scientific breakthroughs, although real-world relevance might not be known for years and years.

I strongly support congressional funding of our university and Extension service research. We still need public sector research at land grand universities, and those of us in agriculture need to support efforts for maintaining or increasing that funding.

Biotechnology is a prime example of scientific investigation that companies are trying to lock away without any public scrutiny. Universities need to be doing biotech research, too, of products released by private companies and to make discoveries from research projects that private companies dismiss as not having the potential for an economic return.

I don’t think we should be pulling the rug out from under what might seem like questionable research. There are a lot of ideas that don’t pan out in private company research, but we never hear about them. However, a misfire in the public sector using any tax money and politicians make hay about it.

As for that guinea pig research, the scientists concluded that domestic guinea pigs, which are readily available and being used in research, are still suitable for research. “Overall, our findings indicate that these animals will be suitable for further investigations of learning and memory.”

See, those dumb guinea pigs actually do have a tie-in with bigger science research.

Editor’s Note: You might think this column is contrary to my editorial two weeks ago when I contended that Kristie Alley is imposing stupid science to blame pesticides used to grow food for making her fat. I still know there is questionable science and then there are claims of science that are absolutely baseless falsehoods.

Richard Keller, AgProfessional editor