Issues in Science and Technology

A quarterly journal of the National Academy of Science focused on discussion of public policy related to science, engineering, and medicine. Provides a forum researchers, government officials, business leaders, and others concerned with public policy to s

Articles from Vol. 20, No. 2, Winter

A Humanities Policy?
More money for the humanities? By all means! As Robert Frodeman, Carl Mitcham, and Roger Pielke, Jr. point out in "Humanities for Policy--and a Policy for the Humanities" (Issues, Fall 2003), there has been a shocking decline in the U.S. government's...
America's Coral Reefs: Awash with Problems; Government Must Acknowledge the Magnitude of the Crisis and Fully Engage the Scientific and Conservation Communities in Efforts to Solve It
America's coral reefs are in trouble. From the disease-ridden dying reefs of the Florida Keys, to the overfished and denuded reefs of Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, this country's richest and most valued marine environment continues to decline in size,...
A Sustainable Rationale for Human Spaceflight: An Appeal to National Pride Could Provide the Basis for a New Program of Solar System Exploration
The August 2003 report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) noted that, "all members of the Board agree that America's future space efforts must include human presence in Earth orbit, and eventually beyond." As justification for this...
Bill Promotes Use of Cord Blood Stem Cells in Treating Disease
A bipartisan quintet of senators has proposed a bill that would promote the use of stem cells derived from cord blood, or blood collected from the umbilical cord and placenta after childbirth, in treating disease. At an October 17 press conference,...
Breeding Sanity into the GM Food Debate: The Issues of Concern to Critics Are Far More Complex Than Advocates Car to Admit; It's Time for a More Far-Ranging Discussion
The debate over biotechnology seems to get ever more intractable, its costs higher, the disputants angrier. Europe is on the verge of requiring the tracking of all genetically modified (GM) food from farm to grocery store, despite strenuous opposition...
Clean Air and the Politics of Coal
Air quality policy--technically complex and always contentious--has become the focus of bitter controversy. The public debate is about an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program called New Source Review (NSR), which regulates emissions from industrial...
Confronting Nuclear Threats
Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky's claim ("Nuclear Proliferation Risks, New and Old," Issues, Summer 2003) that the United States "has failed to take constructive leadership" in countering the threat of nuclear terrorism is baffling, given this country's record...
Coordination of Federal Counterterrorism R & D Examined
On September 30, the National Security Subcommittee of the House Government Reform Committee heard testimony from federal agencies and industry leaders regarding a little-known part of the government called the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG)....
Establishing a Bureau of Environmental Statistics: More Data Collection and Analysis Would Greatly Enhance Our Ability to Set Policy and Measure Its Effectiveness
In 2003, Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.) proposed the Department of Environmental Protection Act, which would elevate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a cabinet department and create within it a Bureau of Environmental Statistics (BES). Although...
Forensic Science, No Consensus
In "A House with No Foundation" (Issues, Fall 2003), Michael Risinger and Michael Saks raise what they perceive to be serious questions regarding the reliability of forensic science research conducted by law enforcement organizations and, in particular,...
House Renews Effort to Protect Commercial Databases
After a number of false starts during the past few years, the House is making another attempt to enact legislation that would clarify the legal rights of commercial database owners in the age of the Internet. But even the new bill, which is an attempt...
In Defense of Crime Labs
In "Crime Labs Need Improvement" (Issues, Fall 2003), Paul C. Giannelli makes a few valid points about the need to improve the capacity and capabilities of forensic science laboratories in the United States. He makes several invalid points too. ...
New Challenges for U.S. Semiconductor Industry
The United States faces a growing threat to its leadership of the world semiconductor industry. A combination of market forces and foreign industrial policies is creating powerful incentives to shift new chip production offshore. If this trend continues,...
NIH Facing New Pressures; Proposed Roadmap in Doubt
The House and Senate committees charged with overseeing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a joint hearing in October that highlighted both the management challenges facing the research agency and the political challenges facing members of...
Oil and Water
Nancy Rabalais' "Oil in the Sea" (Issues, Fall 2003) makes the recommendation that "the EPA should continue its phase-out efforts directed at two-stroke engines." However, by not differentiating between old and new technology, the article exaggerates...
Polygraph Fails Test
For several years now, the widespread use of the polygraph as a screening tool in our country's national laboratories has been a concern of mine, and I am glad that David L. Faigman, Stephen E. Fienberg, and Paul C. Stern have raised the issue ("The...
Practical Climate Change Policy: A Sensible Middle-of-the-Road Alternative Exists between the Defective Kyoto Protocol and Do-Nothing Policy
Global climate change policy has reached a stalemate. Europe, Canada, and Japan have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but it now appears that Russia probably will not, and the Bush administration has ruled out U.S. participation. The treaty puts no obligations...
President Signs $3.7 Billion Nanotechnology Research Bill
President Bush on December 3 signed a bill that would authorize the spending of almost $3.7 billion on nanotechnology R & D in five agencies over four years. The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act passed the House and Senate...
Preventing Forest Fires
Policy related to dealing with fire on the public lands is certainly a hot topic (pun fully intended) in political circles. The development of a national fire policy and the pending passage of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (H.R. 1904) are the...
Radiological Terrorism
"Securing U.S. Radioactive Sources" by Charles D. Ferguson and Joel O. Lubenau (Issues, Fall 2003) identifies noteworthy issues concerning the potential malevolent use of high-risk radioactive material. These issues are not new, however. The Nuclear...
The Fingerprint Controversy
Many of the issues in Jennifer L. Mnookin"s "Fingerprints: Not a Gold Standard" (Issues, Fall 2003) have been discussed at great length during the past few years by many professionals in both the legal and forensic communities. Her contention that...
Viral Trade and Global Public Health: All Countries Must Adopt Uniform and Enforceable Public Health Standards to Stop the Spread of Infectious Disease
In June 2003, some 80 people in three Midwestern states were stricken with monkeypox. Until then, the disease--a sometimes fatal viral infection related to smallpox--had never been seen outside Central and West Africa. In the United States, the virus...
Youth, Pornography, and the Internet: Although Technology and Public Policy Can Help, Social and Educational Strategies Are the Key to Protecting Children
The Internet is both a source of promise for our children and a source of concern. The promise is that the Internet offers such an enormous range of positive and educational experiences and materials for our children. Yet children online may be vulnerable...