'Scientific balancing act' dominates AAAS top ten list of science policy stories for 2002

Balancing safety with scientific openness--and preventing fear from stifling scientific discovery--was cited today by the world's largest general scientific organization, AAAS, as the key science and technology policy issue to emerge in 2002.

Human cloning, stem cell science and protecting the planet's natural resources also appear on the 2002 AAAS Top Ten Science Policy List.

Prepared by experts at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of the journal Science, the AAAS science policy list covers the following hot topics from 2002:

From visas for foreign students to research involving potentially dangerous pathogens, scientists around the globe began feeling the impacts of new American security policies in 2002. While protecting the nation from terrorists is clearly the top priority, some of the new security policies may ultimately make us less secure by weakening science and hindering advances that benefit people everywhere, said Al Teich, head of the AAAS Directorate for Science and Policy Programs. As an example of this "scientific balancing act," Teich points to government efforts to restrict access to "sensitive but unclassified" scientific information recently given a basis in law under the Homeland Security Act. Still lacking is a clear definition of the new category.

Non-U.S. students were walking a tightrope with the advent of two efforts: The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) for tracking their whereabouts; and the proposed Interagency Panel on Advanced Science and Security (IPASS) screening mechanism, aimed at identifying students from certain countries who apply to study sensitive fields. Meanwhile, a law intended to counter bioterrorism now requires university and other research laboratories to place strict controls over certain select agents (chemical and biological materials that could be used to make weapons) and imposes crim

Contact: Ginger Pinholster
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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