Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – April 18, 2014

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By: Bethanie Morrison

photo credit: lindsay-fox via photopin cc

photo credit: lindsay-fox via photopin cc

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

Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws -An article written by four of the top scientist-administrators in the U.S. (Bruce Alberts, Marc Kirschner, Shirley Tilghman and Harold Varmus) addressing the flawed biomedical research enterprise was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS). While reminiscent of the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group report from 2012 and the 1998 report from the National Academies on the future of the biomedical workforce, the thesis of this article is that the American biomedical research atmosphere has become “hypercompetitive,” thereby reducing scientific productivity and harming the careers of promising scientists. The authors suggest that there is an overproduction of Ph.D-level scientists at a time when Ph.D-level jobs are somewhat scarce. They propose the system gradually reduce the number of Ph.D students and alter the ratio of trainees to staff scientists in research labs. Furthermore, the authors strongly urge members of Congress to understand that the research funding and progress as it is right now are unsustainable, and that they must figure out a more stable way to fund biomedical research. (Bethanie Morrison)

Injuries from e-cigarettes increase amid rising popularity – E-cigarettes, battery-powered cartridges that are filled with liquid nicotine that causes an inhalable vapor when heated, have been reported to cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems as well as burns and nicotine toxicity. A recent report from the CDC showed an increased number of calls to poison control centers regarding e-cigarette problems. Companies manufacturing e-cigarettes in the U.S. such as Logic Technology and Lorillard, Inc. cite e-cigarettes made in China as the main problem. China’s regulations on product development and manufacturing are nowhere near as strict as those enforced by the U.S. FDA, allowing China to sell poorly and inconsistently-made products for less money all over the world, particularly via the internet. The FDA is slated to discuss how to regulate e-cigarettes and other “vaping” devices for the first time in the near future, which may potentially reshape the industry. (Reuters)

Political rifts slow U.S. effort on climate laws – A report released this week by the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested that the United States and China need to enact major climate change policies in the next six years in order to stave off the most harmful impacts of global warming. While the United Nations has made climate change a policy priority, U.S. polls have shown that although the majority of Americans (Republican and Democrat) accept that climate change is real, they do not hold it as a high priority come voting season, thus making it a lesser issue for members of Congress. One of the UN policy suggestions made was to impart a tax on carbon pollution. Given the political stances on taxation in Congress, Republicans signing declarations never to raise taxes and Democrats insisting on taxing large corporations, a grand bargain is likely the only way forward. Fortunately, lawmakers from both parties have pushed tax reform such that incorporating a new carbon tax may be paired with a cut in corporate or income taxes. This should help to decrease carbon emissions as such to avoid a catastrophic global atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6°F by 2050, while giving big business the money they need to develop new energy solutions and keep people employed. (Coral Davenport, New York Times)

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

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

April 18, 2014 at 11:18 am

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