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Obama Signs Memo to 'Protect' Science

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – At the White House signing this afternoon of an executive order to overturn the previous administration's ban on using human embryonic stem cells in research, US President Barack Obama also signed a memorandum that he said is aimed at insulating science from politics.

Obama said today that the Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum charges the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with development of "a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making."

He said that his administration will "base our public policies on the soundest science …[and] appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology." In addition, Obama said that his administration will be "open and honest with the American people about the science behind our decisions."

He also said that promoting science is about more than providing resources, but also involves "ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions base on facts, not ideology."

The memorandum gives the director 120 days to develop a set of recommendations based on several principles, including those pertaining to: how candidates are hired; how integrity is protected within agencies; how information used in making policy decisions is reviewed; how agencies shall make scientific and technical knowledge public, when possible; and how whistleblower and other protections should be adopted for protecting the integrity of research.

It also states that the heads of the different research agencies will work with the OSTP director to develop recommendations for the White House.

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