Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – May 28, 2013

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By: Katherine Donigan

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Portland Rejects Fluoridation—Again– (also “What’s the matter with Portland?“)- Starting in 1945, major cities across the US began to supply fluoridated water to residents to promote dental health. Fluoridation as a way to reduce tooth decay is supported by many major health organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite this support, opponents of fluoridation cite concerns about potential unknown effects of the chemical, referring to published findings that correlate high levels of fluoride exposure with adverse health effects.  However, such high fluoride levels greatly exceed the levels recommended for drinking water across the US.  Others argue that fluoridation infringes in personal autonomy.  Since first put to a vote in the city of Portland in 1956, proposals to add fluoride to the city’s water supply have repeatedly failed.  In the summer of 2012, the City Council voted to approve fluoridation outright, circumventing a ballot measure.  Fluoridation opponents quickly gathered enough petition signatures to force a vote, with the measure failing by a 60-40 margin.  Portland remains the largest US city without fluoridated drinking water.  (Francis X. Clines, NYTimes) (Jake Blumgart, Slate)

Fusion program at MIT is ending– Amid federal budget cuts, MIT has announced that they will be shutting down a research program that explores nuclear fusion as a possible energy source.  After the program is shut down about a year from now, there will only be two such programs remaining in the United States. MIT’s fusion program took a major budgetary hit last year, with funding reduced 44%, from $25 million to $14 million.  As of March 2012, the program halted acceptance of new graduate students, and current students may have to scramble to find new projects in order to complete degree requirements. Researchers are hopeful that a solution can be found and are planning to put their equipment on standby rather than dismantling it completely.  If the cuts go through as planned, around 70 layoffs will affect scientists, engineers and support staff. The Department of Energy will continue to fund nuclear fusion research, but has changed the focus from domestic programs to a larger, international effort that, according to MIT’s vice president for research, is behind schedule and over budget.  At least one MIT faculty member plans to leave for a position in Europe.  Further cuts to domestic research programs may ultimately result in more scientists moving abroad in order to continue their work. (Boston Globe, Carolyn Y. Johnson)

Have an interesting science policy link?  Share it in the comments!

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 28, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Linkposts

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