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. 27, No. 4, Summer

A Better Process for New Medical Devices
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) public health mission requires a balance between facilitating medical device innovation and ensuring that devices are safe and effective. Contrary to Paul Citron's assertion in "Medical Devices: Lost...
Agriculture's Role in Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Agriculture is responsible for 7% of total emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in the. Although agriculture is not the major source of greenhouse gas emissions--that title belongs to industrial plants that burn fossil fuel--it is nevertheless...
A National Energy Plan
The nation is fortunate to have Senator Jeff Bingaman, an individual who is both knowledgeable and committed to energy policy, as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In "An Energy Agenda for the New Congress" (Issues, Spring...
Apprenticeships Back to the Future: Largely Overlooked by Policymakers, Educators, and the Public, Apprenticeships Offer a Promising Route for Preparing Large Numbers of Students for High-Skilled Jobs and Professions
Concern about the rising costs of college education, the growing need for remedial and developmental education among new college students, and the low persistence and graduation rates among at-risk students have prompted education officials and policymakers...
Budget Bill Cuts R&D Spending
R&D funding escaped major cuts in the bill signed by President Obama on April 15 that funds the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2011. However, the budgets of most key R&D funding agencies suffered reductions. In...
Court Rules in Favor of Funding for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
The U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit on April 29 vacated a preliminary injunction imposed by a district court judge last summer that blocked federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research, temporarily causing a shutdown of National Institutes...
Disappearing Bees and Reluctant Regulators
Imagine this: You're a commercial beekeeper, who relies entirely on keeping honeybees for making a living. You head out one morning to examine your bees and find that thousands of your previously healthy hives have "collapsed" mysteriously, after your...
E. Co
E. CO is an exhibition of photographs produced by 20 Latin American and European photography collectives. The Ministry of Culture of Spain, in recognition of the Spanish presidency of the European Union and the bicentary of the independence of many...
FDA's Medical Device Approval Process Scrutinized at Senate Hearing
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made "limited" progress in implementing recommendations made in a 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on its procedures regarding medical devices, according to testimony at an April 13 hearing...
Helpful Lessons from the Space Race
I very much enjoyed reading "John F. Kennedy's Space Legacy and Its Lessons for Today" by John M. Logsdon in your spring 2011 edition of Issues. As usual, my friend has turned his sharp eye toward the history of space policy and produced an incisive...
Hydraulic Fracturing Debated in House
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a May 5 hearing to examine whether additional studies need to be conducted to determine the safety of hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking), a method use to extract natural gas from underground....
Improve Chemical Exposure Standards
Gwen Ottinger's article "Drowning in Data" (Issues, Spring 2011), written with Rachel Zurer, provides a personal account of a fundamental challenge in environmental health and chemical policy today: determining what a safe exposure is. As Ottinger's...
Investing in Perennial Crops to Sustainably Feed the World: The Dramatic Increases in Yields of Annual Crops Are Approaching Their Limits. but Similar Advances Are Possible in Hundreds of Underused Perennial Species
The world's food supply is insecure and inadequate and growing more so. But that gloomy prospect could be altered dramatically if the world adopted a novel but simple strategy: supplement the annual food crops that will soon be unequal to the task...
More Public Energy R&D
The nation's energy and climate challenge needs new thinking and approaches, like those found in William B. Bonvillian's "Time for Climate Plan B" (Issues, Winter 2011). Unfortunately, when dealing with any policy area, particularly energy policy,...
Moving to the Smart Grid
Lawrence J. Makovich's most fundamental point in "The Smart Grid: Separating Perception from Reality" (Issues, Spring 2011) is that the smart grid is an evolving set of technologies that will be phased in, with modest expectations of gains and careful...
Promoting Research and Development the Government's Role: The Rationale for Federal Support for Basic Research Is Well Established, but the Best Policy for Implementing This Principle Remains Open to Debate
The Nobel Prize--winning economist Robert E. Lucas Jr. wrote that once one starts thinking about long-run growth and economic development, "it is hard to think about anything else." Although I don't think I would go quite that far, it is certainly...
Reforming Regulation of Research Universities: Regulatory and Reporting Requirements Have Become Excessively Burdensome. A More Balanced Approach Is Needed
In recent years, research universities and their faculty have seen a steady stream of new federal regulations and reporting requirements imposed on them. These new requirements, in combination with other factors, have exacerbated already significant...
Science and Technology in Brief
* Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced legislation (S. 973) to establish the National Endowment for the Oceans. The bill would establish a permanent funding source for ocean research and restoration funded primarily by...
Science and the Arab Spring
As we all know, this has been the "Arab Spring." Ordinary citizens have toppled autocrats and still battle dictators, armed with little more than their convictions. Ultimately, they can not be denied, for as Victor Hugo has said: "No army can defeat...
Science for Natural Resource Management under Climate Change: Emerging Applications of Climate Change Research to Natural Resource Management Show How Science Provides Key Information for Agencies to Take Action for Vulnerable Ecosystems
Climate change poses a fundamental challenge for natural resource management: Climate patterns are shifting in space and time, but national parks, national forests, and other natural areas remain at fixed locations. Research shows that climate change...
Solving the Nation's Security Affordability Problem: With Costs Going Up and Funds Going Down, the Department of Defense Needs to Make Major Changes in How It Operates
There is a clash coming in the next few years between the multiplicity and complexity of the security concerns facing the United States and the shrinking resources available to address them. Unfortunately, solving this growing mismatch between national...
The Climate/security Nexus
Richard A. Matthew has published "Is Climate Change a National Security Issue?" (Issues, Spring 2011) at just the right time. I would answer his question with a resounding "yes"; however, his piece clarifies why the emerging field of analysis on the...
The Little Reactor That Could? as the United States and Other Nations Consider Their Next Steps in Nuclear Energy, a New Movement to Support Small Modular Reactors Is Coming to the Forefront. but How Are We to Envision These Technologies and Their Role in a Post-Fukushima Era?
A week before Halloween 2009, John R. Deal, an entrepreneur who goes almost exclusively by "Grizz," took the stage at the Denver Art Museum to deliver the headline talk at an evening seminar titled "The Truth About Nuclear Energy" Though slightly less...