date: Thu, 25 Sep 2008 14:44:30 -0400 (EDT)
from: AAAS Member Services <announcementsatXYZxyzbers-aaas.org>
subject: AAAS Policy Alert -- 25 September 2008
AAAS Policy Alert -- September 25, 2008
Congress returns to session this week to tackle an immense legislative agenda, including
extensions of expiring tax cuts, economic stimulus legislation, energy legislation, and
above all a government bailout of the nation's financial sector. The federal government's
fiscal year (FY) 2009 begins next week (Oct. 1), and with the FY 2009 appropriations
process badly stalled, on Tuesday night (9/23) a continuing resolution (CR) was introduced
in the House extending funding temporarily at 2008 levels for most federal programs through
March 6, 2009. Only the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs
would get final FY 2009 appropriations. Thus, proposed 2009 increases for key science
agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and DOE's Office of Science could be
on hold until next spring. In fact, because the CR counts only regular appropriations in
its funding formula, agencies such as NIH and DOE that received supplemental appropriations
in June will start out FY 2009 with less money than they currently have. AAAS analyses of
R&D in 2009 appropriations for DOD, DHS, and VA will be available shortly on the AAAS
R&D web site, as well as a summary update on the status of R&D funding as the federal
government enters FY 2009.
McCain and Obama Health Advisers Square Off. On Sept. 18 Scientists and Engineers for
America, in conjunction with AAAS and several other scientific societies, hosted a forum
with McCain health policy adviser Jay Khosla and Obama health policy adviser Dora Hughes.
Questions from the audience covered topics such as stem cell research and improving
healthcare delivery and insurance. The full forum can be viewed via webcast.
Obama Names Science Advisers, Revises Technology Webpage. Wired magazine reports that
Barack Obama has disclosed the names of his science advisers. The five advisers include
Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and NIH director
under President Clinton; University of Michigan geneticist Gilbert Omenn; Johns Hopkins
University malaria researcher Peter Agre; Don Lamb, a University of Chicago astrophysicist;
and Sharon Long, a plant biologist at Stanford University. The Obama campaign recently
revised its webpage discussing its views on technology issues. The updates include
improving mathematics and science education and diversifying the S&T workforce, ethical
standards that allow research on stem cells created from unused embryos from in vitro
fertilization, and doubling federal spending on basic science over the next ten years.
Op-Ed Asks Candidates to Clarify Views on Science. In a Sept. 21 op-ed in the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch, AAAS board chair David Baltimore and AAAS CEO Alan Leshner called upon the
presidential and vice presidential candidates to be more specific in their views on science
and technology issues. Noting that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's
comments on teaching evolution and creationism are "ambiguous" and that her views on
climate change blur "the line between scientific facts and ideology," the op-ed calls on
all candidates to provide more detailed views on S&T issues during the upcoming debates.
Both campaigns have submitted online replies to ScienceDebate 2008's 14 science
questions, but the authors say that online responses are "no substitute for direct debate."
Report on Making Top Federal S&T Appointments. On Sept. 17 the National Academies released
Science and Technology for America's Progress: Ensuring the Best Presidential
Appointments in the New Administration, its quadrennial report advising the next President
on filling up to 80 key high-level S&T appointments. The report recommends an accelerated
process for appointing and confirming S&T leaders, particularly the President's top advisor
on S&T matters, whose role should be returned to a more central place in White House
functioning. Former Representative John Edward Porter (IL) chaired the committee that wrote
Zerhouni to Step Down as NIH Director. On Sept. 24 Elias A. Zerhouni announced his
intention to step down as Director of the National Institutes of Health at the end of
October "to pursue writing projects and explore other professional opportunities." He has
served as NIH Director since May 2002, and among his many achievements was the NIH Roadmap
for Medical Research, begun in 2003. A detailed list of those accomplishments can be found
in the news release announcing his departure.
ESA Comment Period Extended. The Administration has announced that the public comment
period on the proposed rule change to the Endangered Species Act consultation process has
been extended until October 15. The proposed changes would eliminate independent scientific
reviews of federal actions that may affect endangered species, leaving it to each agency to
determine for itself whether its proposed projects would threaten protected species (Policy
Alert, 8/13/08). As we noted last week (Policy Alert, 9/17/08), AAAS has provided
comments taking issue with the proposals.
New Nanotechnology Centers Announced. The National Science Foundation (NSF) and
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have provided a total of $38 million to establish
two Centers for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINs). Led by the
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and Duke University, each CEIN will work as
a network, connected to multiple research organizations, industry, and government agencies,
to study how nanomaterials interact with the environment and human health.
FDA Releases Genetically Modified Animal Guidelines, Hires New Staff. The Food and Drug
Administration released draft guidelines last week on genetic modification of animals.
The purpose of such research is often to develop safer or healthier foods or to produce
medically useful substances. The guidelines are open for comment until November 18. In
other news, the FDA's recent hiring push has succeeded in bringing in more than 1,300
New Commerce Department Advisory Committee Meets. The Emerging Technology and Research
Advisory Committee (ETRAC) for the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security
(BIS) will hold its first meeting on Sept. 23. The newly organized ETRAC "advises the
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration on technical questions that
affect controls on research and emerging technology activities, including those related to
Energy and Climate Change Developments
Climate Change Science Program Releases New Reports. On Sept. 8 the U.S. Climate Change
Science Program (CCSP) released its final version of Synthesis and Assessment Product
Report (SAP) 5.1. The report, Uses and Limitations of Observations, Data, Forecasts, and
Other Projections in Decision Support for Selected Sectors and Regions, analyses support
capability for policy areas such as public health, agriculture, and air quality. On Sept. 4
CCSP also released its final version of SAP 3.2, Climate Projections Based on Emissions
Scenarios for Long-Lived and Short-Lived Radiatively Active Trace Gases and Future Climate
Impacts of Short-Lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols.
Energy Efficiency Report Released. The American Physical Society released the report
"Energy Future: Think Efficiency," which outlines priorities for the next
administration's energy policies, both for the immediate future and for decades ahead. The
report highlights needed and high-return areas of energy efficiency R&D.
New Coalition Seeks to Shore Up Public Confidence in Vaccines. Twenty-two medical groups
have formed a coalition, the Immunization Alliance, to bolster public confidence in the
importance of routine immunizations, following recent outbreaks of measles in several
cities and high-profile reports of parents forgoing vaccinations for their children.
British Science Adviser John Beddington Speaks at AAAS. John Beddington, the Chief
Scientific Adviser to the British government, spoke on "Science and Innovation in a
Changing World" at AAAS on Sept. 17, his first public address in the U.S. since being
appointed Jan. 1, 2008, to succeed Sir David King. The British Embassy co-sponsored the
event. While the British government spends substantially less on basic research than the
United States, the United Kingdom has a highly productive scientific community that is
being encouraged to collaborate in new ways with industry at home and with global partners
abroad, according to Beddington.
British Royal Society Official Resigns Over Creationism Controversy. Michael Reiss,
director of education at the Royal Society in London, resigned from his position last week
after some comments he made were construed as being supportive of teaching creationism as
science. Reiss said that "when teaching evolution, there is much to be said for allowing
students to raise any doubts they have...[and] have a genuine discussion. The word
'genuine' doesn't mean that creationism or intelligent design deserve equal time." He also
said that the approach to teaching evolution in this way depends on the "comfort of the
teacher...I don't believe that such teaching is easy." Despite his caveats, some British
media outlets and scientists accused Reiss of advocating the teaching of creationism in
science class, and the Royal Society subsequently put out a statement saying that Reiss
resigned because his comments were "open to misinterpretation" which "has led to damage to
the Society's reputation."
Australian Government Issues First License to Create Cloned Human Embryos for Stem Cells.
Almost two years after the Australian government lifted its ban on cloning human embryos to
obtain embryonic stem cells, it has issued its first license for the practice to Sydney
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Lucas Adin, Joanne Carney, Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Kei Koizumi, Shirley
Malcom, Molly McElroy, Al Teich, Richard Weibl, Kasey White
NOTE: The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members to inform them of
developments in science and technology policy that may be of interest. Information in the
Policy Alert is gathered from published news reports, unpublished documents, and personal
communications. Although the information contained in this newsletter is regarded as
reliable, it is provided only for the convenience and private use of our members.
Comments and suggestions regarding the Policy Alert are welcome. Please write to
This email was sent to P.JONESatXYZxyz.AC.UK
To get on and off our e-mail lists, please change your e-mail preferences here.
If you need additional help, please write to memuseratXYZxyzs.org .
AAAS / Science
1200 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: +1 202-326-6417
Toll Free in the U.S.: 866-434-(AAAS) 2227
82-88 Hills Road
Cambridge CB2 1LQ
[ AAAS / Science does not endorse any 3rd party products or services advertised here. ]
� 2008 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.
If you can not click on the e-mail preferences link above, copy and paste this link:
One pixel image