Data Show that Federal Investment in Research Pays Dividends
In 1990, the federal government formally launched an ambitious initiative to sequence the human genome, to identify all the genes in human DNA, and to develop the tools to store and allow access to... AIBS has moved to a better RSS delivery service! Unfortunately, you need to take one small step to update your subscription. This feed has moved to http://feeds.feedblitz.com/WashingtonWatch. If you would prefer to change your subscription to our e-newsletter, please visit: http://www.aibs.org/mailing-lists/aibsmlsu.html. Update your subscription now to continue to receive the latest news from AIBS! (Source: Washington Watch)
Source: Washington Watch - June 26, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

New Farm Bill Could Have Devastating Effects on Water Quality
Agricultural nonpoint-source pollution has repeatedly been cited as a leading cause of degraded water quality in water bodies ranging from tributaries to coastal estuaries. Approximately 40 percent... AIBS has moved to a better RSS delivery service! Unfortunately, you need to take one small step to update your subscription. This feed has moved to http://feeds.feedblitz.com/WashingtonWatch. If you would prefer to change your subscription to our e-newsletter, please visit: http://www.aibs.org/mailing-lists/aibsmlsu.html. Update your subscription now to continue to receive the latest news from AIBS! (Source: Washington Watch)
Source: Washington Watch - June 26, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Adrienne Froelich Sponberg Source Type: news

Researchers Take on a New Role: Advocate for Profession, Science
Scientists pride themselves on being objective purveyors of information. For some, this may seem at odds with delving into the world of public policy, where politics and spin seemingly reign supreme.... AIBS has moved to a better RSS delivery service! Unfortunately, you need to take one small step to update your subscription. This feed has moved to http://feeds.feedblitz.com/WashingtonWatch. If you would prefer to change your subscription to our e-newsletter, please visit: http://www.aibs.org/mailing-lists/aibsmlsu.html. Update your subscription now to continue to receive the latest news from AIBS! (Source: Washington Watch)
Source: Washington Watch - June 26, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

Balancing Privacy and Progress: Biobanks and Genome Sequencing
Genome sequencing coupled with medical and personal data holds enormous promise for unraveling the mysteries of the human body and advancing disease treatment. Increasingly, research projects are... AIBS has moved to a better RSS delivery service! Unfortunately, you need to take one small step to update your subscription. This feed has moved to http://feeds.feedblitz.com/WashingtonWatch. If you would prefer to change your subscription to our e-newsletter, please visit: http://www.aibs.org/mailing-lists/aibsmlsu.html. Update your subscription now to continue to receive the latest news from AIBS! (Source: Washington Watch)
Source: Washington Watch - June 26, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Eve S. McCulloch Source Type: news

Balancing Privacy and Progress: Biobanks and Genome Sequencing
Genome sequencing coupled with medical and personal data holds enormous promise for unraveling the mysteries of the human body and advancing disease treatment. Increasingly, research projects are collecting data on large numbers of people to determine links among diseases, lifestyle, environment, and genes. The biobanks being created with these data raise questions about protecting the privacy of individuals whose DNA and medical records fuel research. Repositories of human genetic material emerged more than a decade ago in Iceland with the company deCODE genetics. The United Kingdom has created a biobank with 500,000 enr...
Source: Washington Watch - May 21, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Eve S. McCulloch Source Type: news

US Struggles to Clear Up Confusion Left in the Wake of Rapanos
For two decades, Michigan developer John Rapanos battled the US government over the extent of protection for wetlands and streams under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Now, more than two years after the Supreme Court issued its 4-1-4 split decision, Rapanos and the government have reached a settlement: Rapanos will pay a $150,000 civil fine and about $750,000 more to mitigate 54 acres of wetlands that were filled without authorization. While Rapanos may finally have some closure, confusion over CWA protections remains, leaving all three branches of the federal government struggling to provide clarity for CWA implementation and ...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Adrienne Froelich Sponberg Source Type: news

Grand Theories: How Far Have We Come and Where Will We Go?
President Obama's call for science to be "restored to its proper place" excites science policy advocates. Science, it appears, may play an important role in informing societal decisions and restarting the country's economic engines. Lawmakers heeded his call during the construction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: upon passage, the act included more than $17 billion for scientific research and infrastructure, intended in part to "secure America's role as a world leader in a competitive global economy...[by] renewing America's investments in basic research and development." But can...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Jenna Jadin Source Type: news

Great Lakes: Sailing to the Forefront of National Water Policy?
While all eyes were on the presidential election last fall, the US Congress quickly—and rather unceremoniously—approved legislation that will shape the face of US water policy for years to come. On 3 October, then President George Bush signed into law the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (S.J. Res. 45). Although federal passage was swift, the compact itself was nearly a decade in the making, and it represents significant progress in how the Great Lakes are managed. In turn, the compact sets the stage for the future of water policy in the United States. Accounting for 84 percent...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Adrienne Froelich Sponberg Source Type: news

Will Congress Include Ecosystem Monitoring in Climate Legislation?
Coral bleaching, earlier leaf budding, pika range shifts—these are only a few of the documented effects of climate change on species and ecosystems. Congress is trying to pass legislation responding to climate change, yet some scientists are wondering whether policymakers understand the importance of including ecosystem monitoring in the policy response to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many biologists have voiced support for an ecosystem observation system to monitor climate-related changes in species' distribution and abundance, ecosystem disturbance, phenology, nutrient cy...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

A Rising Tide of Support for a National Climate Service
Climate change is a hot topic in the halls of Congress. News coverage has centered on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (HR 2454), which the House passed by a slim margin—219 to 212—on 26 June. The House Committee on Science and Technology has also been busy, crafting legislation to create a National Climate Service.. Hot air emanating from some media talking heads might lead the casual observer to believe that Congress routinely creates new agencies; in fact, however, lawmakers rarely direct the establishment of a new federal office. Nonetheless, stakehol...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Robert E. Gropp Source Type: news

Debate over Science Funding Heats Up in Canada
Two years ago, the Canadian government launched a new strategy to improve the country's scientific competitiveness by, among other things, promoting partnerships with industry and improving scientific infrastructure. In June, the government trumpeted its success in Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage: Progress Report 2009. But however pleased the government may be with its progress, researchers are becoming increasingly vocal in their dissent, arguing that the government's policy is missing the mark and threatening the future of the country's scientific enterprise. The progress report touts the country'...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Adrienne Froelich Sponberg Source Type: news

Stem Cells: Growth and Development...in Policy
Many scientists and patient advocates cheered earlier this summer when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released new guidelines for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. The guidelines came after President Obama's March 2009 executive order lifting the restrictions on federal support for research using embryonic stem cells. Obama's directive revoked the Bush administration's restrictions and funding ban on hESC research, which had limited scientists to using only 21 approved cell lines out of about 700 in existence. The directive also ordered the NIH to issue new guidelines for hESC research, which were releas...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Jenna Jadin Source Type: news

Turning the Tide on Aquatic Invaders
Ports in the United States are among the busiest in the world—ships made more than 60,000 port calls here in 2008. Along with the 2.3 billion metric tons of goods moved through these ports were untold numbers of aquatic hitchhikers, transported in ballast water and residual sediment in ballast tanks. Ballast water, loaded aboard to improve ship stability during a voyage, transports as many as 3000 to 10,000 different species, including invasive species such as zebra mussels, green crabs, algae, and plankton, as well as disease-causing bacteria and viruses. When ships reach their destinations and release this ballast ...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

A Research and Education Agenda for Biology?
For some time, biologists have argued that a greater federal investment in biological research and education is required to move science forward and solve urgent societal problems. Argu­ably, this call has been heard, but a response has been muted by the lack of a clear articulation of need from the scientific community. However, recent efforts from within the community suggest that biologists might be attempting to define plans that will advance science and solve real-world problems. "Plants are central to the future of scientific discovery, human well-being, and the sustainable use and preservation of the world...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Robert E. Gropp Source Type: news

Stimulating Science: One Year After the Recovery Act
A year ago, as the US economy was on the brink of meltdown, Congress and President Obama enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; PL 111-5). The $787-billion economic stimulus promised a new future for America, a future that not only brought economic growth and jobs but also addressed society's most pressing issues: education, human health, infrastructure, and clean energy. The act included more than $24 billion for federal science programs, much of which was designated for research and development (R&D). These funds were intended to create or save jobs by directly supporting researchers and st...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

Science Advice in the States
In 2006 this column posed the question, "Where are all the state science advisers?" With states challenged to make more decisions about investments in research, science education, and tech-based industry, author Gillian Andres asked, Who is advising the governors? She found that few US states had science advisers within the governor's office. An informal survey conducted by the AIBS Public Policy Office in July 2006 found that just six states (Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia) had identifiable positions. A handful of other states, including Kansas, had had science advisers in the past, an...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

Congress Learns about 21st Century Biology
Last year, the National Research Council (NRC) issued A New Biology for the 21st Century: Ensuring the United States Leads the Coming Biology Revolution. Described by some scientists as biology's "moon shot," the 112-page report makes a case for new research and funding models that can stimulate fundamental discovery and solve complex problems in the areas of environment, energy, agriculture, and health. Policymakers have since begun to consider the report's recommendations. In June, shortly after the House of Representatives passed its version of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010—legislation...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Robert E. Gropp Source Type: news

Major Changes in Congress May Mean Major Changes for Science Policy
This month, voters across the nation will head to the polls for the midterm elections. Regardless of the final results, the departure of several long-standing science and education advocates will most likely change the way science is viewed in the 112th Congress. "The retirements of champions of science, such as Representatives Brian Baird, Bart Gordon, Vern Ehlers, and Dave Obey and the defeats of Senator Arlen Specter and Rep. Alan Mollohan [in primary elections earlier this year] mean the loss of considerable support for science in the Congress," warned Howard J. Silver, executive director of the Consortium of...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

New Congress, Old Climate Rhetoric?
Last month, members of the 112th Congress were sworn into office, making the composition of the new Congress very different from that of the 111th. Although the election is over, it remains unclear whether members of the new Congress will refrain from the vitriolic attacks of the 2010 campaign season long enough to legislate, or if the next two years, as many policy watchers inside the Beltway are speculating, will be dedicated instead to testing arguments for the 2012 elections. Early signals suggest the latter, replete with antiscience rhetoric, may be the case. The 112th Congress has at least 95 new members in the House...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Robert E. Gropp Source Type: news

Synthetic Biology Promises Risk and Reward
In May 2010, researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute announced the creation of the world's first synthetic organism—a bacterial host cell whose self-replicating genome was human-made. This momentous achievement raises questions regarding the potential risks and benefits of synthesizing genomes, and eventually, organisms. According to proponents, synthetic biology offers great promise. Some scientists suggest that the emerging field could lead to advancements in individualized medicine, more efficient vaccine and drug production, new renewable energy sources, higher-yielding and more sustainable crops, and organi...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

Will Lawmakers Reform Immigration Rules for STEM Graduates?
Ranjini Prithviraj is at the start of a promising career in neuroscience. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), serves as an editor on the NIH Fellows Editorial Board, and mentors students interested in careers in science. Despite her strong résumé and her PhD in cell and molecular biology from a well-regarded American university, Prithviraj's ability to continue to work in the United States is uncertain, because she was born in India and raised in Dubai. "I would like to stay in the US long term, but I'm not sure as of now," said Prithviraj. "The reason I'm n...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

White House Begins to Map Course toward Bio-Based Economy
Politicians and pundits clogged the airwaves last year with rhetoric about the state of the nation's economy. Amid this noise, a few economic policy initiatives did begin to take shape. For instance, last fall, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a request for comments on a draft policy to stimulate the bioeconomy. Scientists have long asserted that research is an investment that yields economic prosperity. A growing number of scientists and engineers have more recently advised that the biological sciences are poised to inspire transformative discoveries that can solve persistent problems ...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Robert E. Gropp Source Type: news

Data Show that Federal Investment in Research Pays Dividends
In 1990, the federal government formally launched an ambitious initiative to sequence the human genome, to identify all the genes in human DNA, and to develop the tools to store and allow access to this information. The effort took 13 years and cost the federal government $3.8 billion. As is evidenced by technological advancements, the cultivation of new lines of research, and countless subsequent scientific discoveries, the Human Genome Project (HGP) was a success by nearly all measures. A question of interest to policymakers, however, is what the economic return on this kind of federal investment is. The HGP generated gr...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

New Farm Bill Could Have Devastating Effects on Water Quality
Agricultural nonpoint-source pollution has repeatedly been cited as a leading cause of degraded water quality in water bodies ranging from tributaries to coastal estuaries. Approximately 40 percent of US agricultural land—roughly 15 percent of all the land in the United States—is enrolled in farm bill conservation programs aimed at improving soil retention and reducing nutrient pollution. But as Congress looks for ways to reduce discretionary funding, these conservation programs are on the chopping block in the 2012 reauthorization of the bill. The impact on water quality could be devastating. The conservation ...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Adrienne Froelich Sponberg Source Type: news

Researchers Take on a New Role: Advocate for Profession, Science
Scientists pride themselves on being objective purveyors of information. For some, this may seem at odds with delving into the world of public policy, where politics and spin seemingly reign supreme. For others, advocating on behalf of their profession and speaking up about the importance of science is model behavior for researchers. "Collaboration between our leading experts in science and technology and Congress and federal agencies is the only way that public policy decisions will be made using sound science," said Senator Jay Rockefeller (D–WV), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and...
Source: Washington Watch - January 23, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news

Researchers Take on a New Role: Advocate for Profession, Science
Scientists pride themselves on being objective purveyors of information. For some, this may seem at odds with delving into the world of public policy, where politics and spin seemingly reign supreme. For others, advocating on behalf of their profession and speaking up about the importance of science is model behavior for researchers. "Collaboration between our leading experts in science and technology and Congress and federal agencies is the only way that public policy decisions will be made using sound science," said Senator Jay Rockefeller (D–WV), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, an...
Source: Washington Watch - January 11, 2013 Category: Biology Authors: Julie Palakovich Carr Source Type: news