Here's a rundown of some of the stories we've been following on Science's policy blog, ScienceInsider:
Scientists are greeting with surprise and dismay a project to use DNA and isotope analysis of tissue from asylum seekers to evaluate their nationality and help decide who can enter the United Kingdom. "Horrifying," "naïve," and "flawed" are among the adjectives geneticists and isotope specialists have used to describe the "Human Provenance pilot project," launched quietly in mid-September by the U.K. Border Agency. Their consensus: The project is not scientifically valid--or even sensible.
Is it "heavy-handed bullying" or simply a "misunderstanding between bureaucrats"? The suggestion that Canada's science minister threatened to punish one of the country's research funding councils over its support of a conference on Palestinian statehood has rekindled debate on a story we reported this summer.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is facing a new salvo from conservatives upset about research on topics involving sexual behavior and drug abuse. Yesterday, Joe Barton (R–TX) and Greg Walden (R–OR), minority members of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote NIH to express their concerns about the peer review of a dozen grants that they believe "do not seem to be of the highest scientific rigor."
Supporters of President Barack Obama's approach to limiting greenhouse gas emissions scored two wins this week in the Senate: one in open field battle and the other in more clandestine fashion. Both came as part of the debate on the interior-environment spending bill for next fiscal year.
China has made what appears to be its opening move in the negotiating run-up to the international climate change talks in November in Copenhagen. In an e-mail conversation with ScienceInsider, climatologist Stephen Schneider of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and activist Keya Chatterjee of the World Wildlife Fund headquartered in Washington, D.C., discuss the science and policy issues facing the world community as developed and developing nations each weigh new commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has publicly admitted that politics has trumped science. The agency acknowledged yesterday that it approved a device to help with knee-replacement surgeries--a device the agency's own scientists said often failed--only after it received pressure from a cohort of Democratic congressmen from New Jersey, where the device's manufacturer is located.
For more on these stories and the latest science policy news and analysis, visit ScienceInsider.