Ever wonder how connected science policy and science research is? About as much as Siamese twins attached at the head. Look at some of the current policy issues that affect research (and vice versa).
Serious health and environmental concerns may be triggered by increases in UV radiation and a depleted ozone layer. A climate change bill passed through the House in ‘09 but is facing obstacles in the Senate. The success or failure of current and future climate change legislation will be influenced by scientists and researchers
Stem Cell Regulation
In ’05 and ’07 the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act was passed by Congress but was vetoed by the President. Although President Obama has lifted some barriers to stem cell research, the ‘09 version of the Stem Cell Bill has not passed either branch of Congress.
Should consumers have the right to personally administer genetic tests on themselves? In 2008 the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) restricted employers and insurance company from discrimination based on results from genetic tests, but no federal policy regulates how the tests are conducted.
The Environment and Offshore Drilling
Researchers and engineers will play an integral role in determining the Congressional legislative reaction to the BP oil spill. In ‘08, a 27 year offshore drilling ban was lifted, which may now be reinstated.
The FDA allows animals to be cloned and their meat sold for human consumption - should scientists be allowed to clone human organs for research or transplant? Should we be allowed to clone extinct or endangered species? Legislation addressing such issues will be framed soon.
Health Records and Internet Privacy
Should restrictions exist when accessing health records electronically? Do search engines have the right to save search data? In ‘10 an online privacy bill was presented in the House, which will effect digital privacy laws and medical record storage. Doctors and researchers will dictate these quality of these regulations.
Tax Credit for Research
The Federal Research and Development tax credit was worth $5.6 billion to U.S. companies in ‘09. The credit includes qualified research, computer time-sharing costs, and a percentage of contract research expenses. It is a temporary program that has been renewed annually for 28 years, but whether it becomes part of the permanent tax code has not been decided.
The 2010 America COMPETES Act is currently being considered by Congress. It will not only affect NSF funding for the next five years, but legislate energy, STEM education, and technology transfer efforts.
No matter what field you're in or what type of research you do, you should work to affect the policies that affect research.
This is Part 3 of 3 in the Science of Advocacy series.
Part 1 - Senator PhD?
Part 2 - Baby don't cry, baby don't get no milk
Part 3 - A=B; B=A