January 10, 2008 The Pump Handle 0Comment

Tomorrow’s Science Friday radio program will feature a segment on the Science Debate 2008 campaign, which calls for the presidential candidates to devote a debate to science-related issues. You can listen live online from 2 – 4pm Eastern time, or check your local NPR station’s listings to see when the show airs.

Here’s what we wrote last month about why such a debate is needed and which questions we’d like to see the candidates answer:

We here at The Pump Handle are particularly concerned about the way that political appointees in this administration have suppressed, distorted, and ignored scientific evidence and communication about important issues, including global warming, emergency contraception, and a range of other public health issues. Some officials have failed to address important issues such as protecting consumers from dangerous drugs or chemical hazards. At the same time, the White House has issued Executive Order 13422, which erected new hurdles that make it harder for regulatory agencies to do their jobs, and has installed (via recess appointment) an anti-regulatory extremist to oversee the administration’s regulatory policies. In short, scientific federal agencies are not able to use science as they should to protect our air, water, drugs, and food and to address large-scale health and environmental problems. It is imperative that the next president reverse these damaging trends and restore scientific integrity to federal policy. Therefore, we suggest that presidential candidates answer the following questions:

• How will you ensure that decisions and research priorities at scientific agencies are based on the best science, rather than ideological considerations?

• How will you ensure that government scientists are able to communicate findings important for public health to those who need to know about them?

• What criteria will you use to select people for appointments at scientific agencies?

• In your budget, will you call for the increased resources scientific agencies need in order to protect the public’s health, safety, and environment?

• Do you agree that all members of scientific advisory committees should be free of financial conflicts of interests, and what steps will you take to eliminate or reduce these conflicts?

• How will you restore morale within the scientific agencies and ensure that they are able to attract top scientific talent in the future?

• Will you reverse Executive Order 13422 and restore regulatory agencies’ independence to set priorities based on their missions?

Science Friday is a call-in show; you can chime in with your own suggested questions (or other questions or comments) at 800-989-8255 starting at 2pm EDT tomorrow.

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