This week: a pandemic inquiry, Stem expertise in politics and appeals for bipartisan science support
In depth: A group representing learned societies in the biological sciences has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to abandon a 2019 pledge to phase out toxicology testing on mammals at the agency.
Also this week from Research Professional News
Nasa approves private mission to International Space Station—Mission will conduct research and is intended to free up public resources for deep space
Regulators open consultation on drug company mergers—Transatlantic collaboration wants to know how impacts on innovation can be assessed
Here is the rest of the US news this week…
Wuhan info requested in Covid-19 ‘lab leak’ probe
Republicans in the House of Representatives have asked the State Department to release US-held information on Chinese military research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Brett Guthrie and Morgan Griffith made the formal request to state secretary Antony Blinken to probe whether Covid-19 was accidentally released from the laboratory. A department fact sheet published in the last days of the Trump administration said the institute worked on secret projects with China’s military.
Stem expertise lacking among state legislators
Just 3 per cent of state lawmakers in the United States come from a professional scientific, engineering or healthcare background, according to a study by Rutgers University. Of those, 197 had expertise in healthcare, 20 in science and 11 in engineering. Most were white, male and Republican. New Hampshire, Georgia and Texas were found to have the highest number of people with science, engineering and healthcare backgrounds in their state legislatures.
Appeal for bipartisan R&D efforts
Republicans on the House science committee have complained of being “ostracised” from the legislative process when Democrats used a budget reconciliation mechanism to bypass opposition to a massive coronavirus spending package in January. With some observers saying that Democrats will need to use the same mechanism to pass president Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan—which promises hundreds of billions of dollars for R&D—the science committee members said that bipartisan support for increasing research funding meant that Democrats could “check partisanship at the door”.