On 9 March 2009, President Obama signed an executive order reversing the controversial ban on federal funding for stem cell research signed by President Bush in an August 2001 directive. Bush’s order blocked federal dollars from supporting not only the creation of stem cell lines, but also prevented money from being allocated towards lines that were independently created after the 9 August 2001. Scientists and medical research advocates were pleased with the change in policy, as it opens up new avenues for research.

Along with the executive order, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity. According to the memo “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues…the public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions.”

The memo specifically directs the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to draft a detailed plan over the next 120 days to make sure that administration and agency officials who deal with science policy are selected because of their scientific expertise rather than their politics. The plan would also ensure that the science behind policy decisions would be transparent and publicly available, and it would also provide protection for scientific “whistleblowers” who have disagreements with the science behind administration decisions.

 


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