AAAS US Presidential Candidates' Forum

09/29/04

Bush, Kerry representatives debate future of science policy

***Those who cannot attend the AAAS U.S. Presidential Candidates' Forum in person may listen to a live audio webcast at www.aaas.org/election ***

WASHINGTON, DC -Stem cell research, climate change and many other scientific matters are currently attracting significant interest from both candidates for the U.S. presidency and the general public as science and technology issues increasingly motivate major policy decisions.

On September 30, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), will host a special Candidates' Forum on Science & Technology Policy, at which representatives of the presidential campaigns of incumbent George W. Bush and challenger John Kerry will discuss their plans and policies for science and technology.

Former House Science Committee Chairman Bob Walker will represent the Bush campaign. Mr. Walker is chairman of Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates. He has been described as "perhaps the best political and policy strategist and tactician in Washington." Speaking on behalf of the Kerry-Edwards campaign will be Henry Kelly. Dr. Kelly, a physicist, is former assistant director for technology of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is currently president of the Federation of American Scientists.

In the 16 September 2004 issue of Science Express, the online publication of the journal, Science, published by AAAS, the world's largest general science society, the candidates responded to questions posed by Science's editorial and news staff. The first one asked for each camp's top priorities for Science and Technology.

According to Science Editor-in-Chief, Donald Kennedy, "President Bush emphasized bandwidth, research toward a hydrogen economy, and recruiting science and technology to fight terrorism. Candidate Kerry looked for a balanced research support portfolio, put changing stem cell policy near the top, and promised to elevate the Science Adviser position to its former status as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology."

Responding to the question of climate change, Kerry wrote that "the scientific evidence is clear that global warming is already happening and rising levels of global warming pollution are making the problem worse." He proposed that the solution lies in negotiating with and working with other nations.

Although Bush's article in Science noted "key uncertainties remain concerning the underlying causes and nature of climate change," it stated that his agenda aims to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18% over the next decade through next-generation hydrogen and clean coal technologies.

When asked about the future of embryonic stem-cell lines, Kerry wrote that he would lift the current ban on federal funding of research on stem cell lines created after August 2001.

"Right now, more than 100 million Americans suffer from illnesses that one day could be wiped away with stem-cell therapy, including cancer, Parkinson's, diabetes, and other debilitating diseases."

President Bush is in favor of maintaining current legislation. "We should not use taxpayer money to encourage or endorse the additional destruction of living, human embryos," he writes.

Both candidates are in favor of keeping human cloning, or reproductive cloning illegal.

To read the responses of the candidates on these and other hot-button items such as Visa/Security Issues, Space Policy, Environmental Stewardship, Creationism and Energy Policy, go to: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/1104420v1.pdf. To download Donald Kennedy's Editorial: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/1105134v1.pdf

Both items are available in the 1 October 2004 issue of Science.

Robert Walker and Henry Kelly will continue the debate over controversial scientific issues at AAAS on 30 September. As the voices of science and technology policy for Bush and Kerry, Walker and Kelly have unique access to the content knowledge on each side.

Each speaker will have the opportunity to make a short opening statement. The rest of the time will be devoted to Q&A. Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, will moderate the event.

This is the second presidential candidates' forum on Science & Technology Policy hosted by AAAS, explained Albert H. Teich, director of Science & Policy at AAAS. In October 2000; speakers were Robert Walker for George W. Bush and David Beier for Al Gore. Joe Palca of National Public Radio was the moderator.

This event is sponsored by the Washington Science Policy Alliance, a loosely-knit coalition of institutions that has banded together to conduct seminars and meetings around specific science and technology policy issues.

MEDIA NOTE: The Forum will take place in the AAAS Auditorium, 12th and H Streets., NW, Washington, DC, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, 30 September 2004. Light refreshments will be served in the second floor lobby of the AAAS Building beginning at 12 noon. Please use the entrance at the intersection of 12th and H Streets and proceed to the 2nd floor.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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