Will privatising the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) "free" the agency from the public sector or lead to job cuts and more commercialised science restricted by the investors? Paterson doesn't have the best track record for making thought through decisions and this one is no exception.
On Thursday Paterson announced a procurement exercise to find a partner for the joint venture that will "free it [Fera] from public sector constraints." The Guardian understands 29 organisations have expressed an interest. Paterson claimed the move would "protect and enhance its [Fera's] scientific capabilities in the long term". He added: "Procuring the right external partner, with the necessary commercial expertise and experience will help Fera to maximise its market potential and grow its non-government revenue." He appeared to reference union concerns that long-term science issues will suffer under commercial pressures and that private sector involvement will lead to job cuts. "I am also confident that a joint venture would offer new opportunities to Fera’s staff."