March 9th, 2009
04:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama moves to separate politics and science

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama lifted a ban that limited federally funded embryonic stem cell research."]

(CNN) - As President Obama reversed the Bush administration's limits on embryonic stem-cell research, he said scientific decisions must be "based on facts, not ideology."

The president on Monday signaled a clear shift in tone from the Bush administration on a broad range of scientific issues.

Obama overturned an order signed by President Bush in 2001 that barred the National Institutes of Health from funding research on embryonic stem cells beyond using 60 cell lines that existed at that time.

Bush twice vetoed legislation that would have expanded federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Those siding with Bush say scientific advances allow researchers to conduct groundbreaking research without destroying human embryos.

"Advancements in science and research have moved faster than the debates among politicians in Washington, D.C., and breakthroughs announced in recent years confirm the full potential of stem cell research can be realized without the destruction of living human embryos," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday.

Obama also signed a memorandum that directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy "to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making."

Obama's action is part of a broader effort to separate science and politics and "restore scientific integrity in governmental decision-making," White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said Sunday.

But it's not just on the issue of stem cells where science and politics collide.

Full story

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. witch

    I would like to see church and state completely separate also.

    March 9, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. Pat F

    What a non-story. California has had a huge stem cell research program – billions of dollars' worth – for years. The so-called "ban on stem cell research" was a ban on spending Federal dollars for it. The much more efficient private and State sectors were spending hand over fist on stem cell research – and accomplishing very little scientifically.

    Obama's "pure science" memo is just a cynical joke. Reversing the stem cell "ban" is nothing more than a Democratic campaign contribution issue – not a real health care story. It's the Democratic version of "partial birth abortion" – it gets the base mobilized, and contributing money. But it's a red herring.

    March 9, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Joe

    This is not a separation of politics and science – it is the merging and meddling of government in science...

    This is about one extreme reaction to another extreme administration...

    This is about democratic payback –

    Truth is truth regardless of who speaks it – and this is not truth – this is big government and taxpayer spending...

    If our corporations would be more socially aware and generous – they could easily fund stem cell research – stem cell research is not illegal – bush did not make stem cell research illegal – he took a controversial minor aspect of stem cell research – embryonic stem cells – and said it is irresponsible to charge every american taxpayer to fund something that not every taxpayer is in agreement with – it is the same thing with abortion –

    every pro-death advocate loves to scream "You CANT tell me what to do with my body!" but then they flip the coin and say but I CAN tell YOU what to do with your money – this is ridiculous – it's pandering – and it is especially political and irresponsible during a time of severe economic crisis – guess this president will be the first one term president in 20 years!

    March 9, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Kurt C.

    This in no ways separates politics and science. Way to be unbiased, CNN.

    March 9, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Virginia

    How is destroying human life in the name of science going "to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making."? There is NO integrity in the destruction of human life–especially the human life that has not had a chance to live!

    March 9, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. Jon in CA

    Again... can ANYONE name just ONE cure or success achieved through Embryonic Stem Cell Research??


    Just one??

    You can't... that's because NOT ONE breakthrough has come from embroynic research. All success has come through adult stem cell research.

    But don't let FACTS get in the way of government waste!! Keep spending money we don't have Obama... It's the socialist way!!

    March 9, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. In Houston, TX

    I feel great...yeah I do!
    Does anybody remember that age of Anti-Intellectualism we just got through? I do.
    You know what this is? Revenge of the Nerds!!!
    I LOVE IT 🙂

    March 9, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. Had It

    I believe Science and Politics should be separate.

    I also believe Religion and Politics should be separate.

    3 Different Things. Don't mix them up and cause more confusion.

    March 9, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. Mike

    We finally have an intellect in the White House. It's refreshing to see policies driven on science and research than on ideology and politics

    March 9, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. Griff............... on The Truth...

    Just imagine jack. "Stem Cells', in a Battle Field. Instant reproduction of a Limb. Bionic Man??? Crazy. So is Computers. They actually talk to you, and argue.

    March 9, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. C W

    Using embryos left over from in-vitro fertilization is not abortion. Most of these left over embryos are destroyed; some couples decide to freeze them for possible future use (not a guarantee, because the majority don't survive the thawing process) and some couples donate them to other couples who were unable to produce embryos of high enough quality to take the next step and implant them.

    People need to do a little research on just what these embryos consist of:

    – Embryos used for in-vitro are either 3 days old (8 cells) or 5 days old (differentiated into three regions, one of which has the potential of developing into a fetus).

    – Neither the 3-day-old nor 5-day-old embryo is in any way, shape or form is a fetus, let alone a baby.

    The reason why these embryos can be used for stem cell research is because, at this stage of development, they can differentiate into any of a number of different types of cells (nerve cells, skin cells, etc.).

    I believe President Obama did the right thing by repealing Bush's policy.

    March 9, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. ch

    Good for President Obama – for eight years under the Bush regime, science was ignored if it did not support the beliefs of the right wing nut cases.

    You know the right wing – they never allow facts to get in the way of their tired old arguments!

    March 9, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Baze

    This is awesome... We corner this market, we move ahead of the rest of the world, plain and simple.

    March 9, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. becca

    Hmmmm ..........if he was really separating Science from Politics he would not have reversed the limits on embryonic stem cell research.

    His move was ALL about POLITICS.

    If he was serious about restoring scientific integrity he would help NASA.....instead of fighting them.

    March 9, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. Bob D. Morristown NJ

    Does this mean that schools won't have to teach religious based, untestable creationism as a scientific theory under the guize of "intelligent design" on a par with testable and largely confirmed evolution? Does it mean science will be once more returned to that which is established and tested by the scientific method instead of ideas that randomly popped into some minds in antquity?

    What a concept. Next we may go back to the separation of church and state.

    March 9, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Mike H.

    Obama certainly didn't separate science from politics in his decision to close down the prospective nuclear storage site at the Yucca salt mines in Nevada.

    Every scientific study determined that the site was safe . Its use would have permitted us to remove the nuclear waste scattered throughout hundreds of sites in the US and store it safely. But Obama clearly choose politics (Sen. Harry Reid was opposed) over science. Just another example of his saying one thing and doing another. But don't count on the still enthralled media to point out Obama's duplicity.

    March 9, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Chris in Austin

    The title of this article is ridiculous. Obama surely will NOT separate governing, i.e. politics, from funding and directing certain scientific pet projects like global warming research and green technology.

    March 9, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. David

    We can disagree about the issue, but this isn't about separating science from politics. It's about separating science from morality (or ethics). The objections to embryonic or fetal stem cell research arise out of moral and ethical concepts, not political ones. Of course, it would be politically dangerous to cast this in a moral or ethical light. Much easier, and significantly misleading, to paint it as a clash between politics and science.

    March 9, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  19. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    "Don't let your sense of morals keep you from doing what's right."
    Issac Asimov – Foundation Trilogy

    March 9, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  20. pat C.

    it was worth the wait president obama to finally have a president that is itelligent ,trustworthy and looks out for our nation.
    our nation will lead again very soon and we will once more be respected all over the world.

    March 9, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. the idiot

    I should have known Obama would be the greatest scientist that ever lived. He, who must be obeyed.

    March 9, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Christina L.

    Yay our gov't has brains again! The gov't should have NOTHING to do with religion, just like I don't want my church to have anything to do with gov't. Keep them separate!

    March 9, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  23. Dano

    To call this a separation of ideology from science is inaccurate. The bottom line is that everyone has their own stance on this issue. Just because you are for something rather than against it (in this case, using embryonic stem cells for research) doesn't mean you aren't ideologically motivated.

    March 9, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |