With Hillary Clinton being endorsed by President Obama and being the presumptive nominee, we’re looking at her position on different scientific topics including climate change and STEM education. (See Bernie’s profile here).
Name: Hillary Clinton
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Government Positions Held: First Lady of the United States (1993-2001), United States Senator from New York (2001-2009), United States Secretary of State (2009-2013)
Education: J.D. from Yale Law School, B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College
Science Research: Clinton is strongly in support of federal funding for scientific research. Although she has not made it a major feature of her current campaign, it was a pillar of her 2008 platform. Specifically, Clinton is in favor embryonic stem cell research and robust federal support of NASA. Additionally, in 2011, Clinton spoke at the National Institutes of Health to call for a renewed push for an “AIDS-free generation”. Most recently, in 2013, Clinton came out strongly against the budget sequester on the basis that it significantly hindered scientific research.
Climate Change and Alternative Energy: Like the majority of Democrats, Clinton believes climate change is a real and present danger to the world. Recently she announced her plan to combat climate change. Despite setting a more ambitious goal than President Obama, her plans have still receivedcriticism for lacking the necessary urgency to make real change. One major source of scrutiny from scientists stems from Clinton’s indecision on theKeystone Pipeline. While many of her democratic colleagues have come out against the project, Clinton is remaining neutral and dodgy on the topic.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Last year, at a biotech convention in San Diego, CA, Clinton spoke passionately about the usefulness of genetically modified crops. “If you talk about drought-resistant seeds, and I have promoted those all over Africa, by definition they have been engineered to be drought-resistant,” Clinton said. “That’s the beauty of them. Maybe somebody can get their harvest done and not starve, and maybe have something left over to sell.” However, Clinton’s support for GMOs have been called into question due to her ties with pro-GMO companies such as, Monsanto and Dow Chemical Company.
STEM Education: Clinton has made both K-12 and higher education a priority in her career. Most recently, she has proposed big government spending to make higher education more affordable and come out in support of making Pre-K education more accessible for low income families. As Secretary of State she addressed STEM education specifically when she launched NeXXt Scholars, an organization created to provide mentorship and networking opportunities for young women pursuing STEM degrees.
Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): Clinton supports the ACA, but acknowledges its flaws. Clinton is especially concerned with the negative effect the system has on small business owners and their employees. However, she applauds the potential it has to alleviate job lock, allow young adults remain on their parents’ healthcare, and promote Comparative Effectiveness Research, which creates research opportunities and helps cut unnecessary government spending on ineffective treatments.
Vaccines: There is no way to more perfectly explain Clinton’s stance on vaccines than her own tweet. “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”. However, it should be noted that, on her 2008 campaign, she met with an autism awareness group and called for more research into a link between vaccines and autism.
Summary: Clinton accepts that climate change is a major cause for concern, but some environmentalists are concerned that her alternative energy initiative is too conservative, and her indecision on the Keystone Pipeline project is worrisome. Additionally, Clinton sides with scientists on key issues such as vaccines and GMOs. However, she has yet to propose specific plans to limit the right of parents to refuse vaccines for their children and her ties with agricultural business may affect her judgement on GMOs. The strongest case for Clinton as an ally of scientists is her consistent, passionate advocacy for scientific research and her dedication to making education more affordable and accessible for all Americans.
Anthony Barrasso (President) Anthony is a 3rd year graduate student studying retinal development. His career interests include cancer research, education, and politics. Outside of lab, he likes playing with his dog and eating delicious food. Follow him on twitter @barrasso67.