Hello there Mary,
I picked up on your well founded astonishment, 
at the HUGE amounts of taxpayers money being spent on dubious research projects, and I would like to inject (pun intended) some more eyebrow raisers on the same subject.
Ref Site :www.mrc.ac.uk
Datum:  SE 1814. 
Research Centre - Edinburgh
Principal : Dr W. McKelvey
"To determine if SCRAPIE can be transmitted by transfer of embryos from ewes INFECTED with scrapie to uninfected ewes".
Start : 1 Oct 95
Finish : 1 Sep 98
Cost: #94,000
I wonder if anybody would like to guess the outcome of that one.........in under three years ! 
Datum : SE 1418
Research Centre - Newbury
Principal : Dr J. Foster
"BSE Transmission in SHEEP"
Start : 1 Apr 90
Stop : 31 Mar 97
Cost : #240,000
In seven years of trying to prove the mission statement, ABJECT FAILURE - there never has been BSE in sheep !
So what do 'they' do ? 
Change the goalposts, stay in the same location, pass the test-tube to somebody else down the corridor, with a years overlap, and word the new Research project slightly differently..................
Datum : SE 1423
Research Centre : Newbury
Principal : N. Hunter
"Transmission studies for the detection of BSE in SHEEP".
Start : 1 Apr 96
Stop : Yet to be decided
Cost : #717,000
Maybe it's time to change the research heading and ask for more money again ?
Hold on though, whilst the chaps in white coats at Newbury ponder why they can't fine BSE in sheep and play pass the brains for years, along the corridor they are toying with the idea there is a "Species Barrier" that nature has had up it's sleeve and trashing their theory !  Another project that wasted taxpayers money.
Datum : SE 1414
Research Centre : Newbury
Principal : M.E. Bruce
"Studies on the 'Species barrier' in Scrapie and BSE"
Start : 1 Apr 95
Finish : 31 Mar 2000
Cost : #125,000
Just in case our hundreds of years of home grown butchery skills had poisoned the nation, how about some money to find a way of removing spinal chord from dead sheep ?
"OK" says moneybags, "what's a good name for this project" ?
How about,
"Development and Evaluation of a PRACTICAL method for the removal of spinal chord from sheep carcasses" ?
"That will do nicely" says moneybags. 
"How much money do you want, and how long will it take" ? Says moneybags, digging into the taxpayers purse.
"#98,000  -  and three months should crack it" (1st October 98, stop on the 31st Dec 98)
"OK........sounds good to me" says moneybags.
So in three months men in white coats ask some slaughterhouses, about the practicalities of removing a sheep's spinal chord.
They must have stayed in some very expensive hotels to need all that money.
I am being terribly cynical about these money swallowing projects, but I cannot help but wonder about the benefits we gain from such absurd research.
Best wishes,