The Politics of Science: Bush and Kerry Battle It Out

September 29, 2004—Nature, a leading international science periodical, has published written responses from President Bush and challenger John Kerry to questions regarding their respective stands on various scientific issues, including stem cell research, global warming, genetically modified crops and nuclear weapons development. As might be expected, the candidates rarely agreed on what should be done regarding federal policy on most matters of science.

In general, Bush came down on the side of preventing research on new stem cell lines, waiting and seeing regarding global warming, allowing the free market to regulate genetically modified foods, and continuing the development of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Kerry wants to lift restrictions on stem cell research, restart international negotiations regarding climate change policy, watch genetically modified foods more closely and stop all nuclear weapons development.

The responses underscore many of the key differences between the two candidates. On the campaign trail, Kerry has continuously accused the Bush administration of putting morality above science, especially in light of stem cell research, which is opposed by right-to-life groups. Meanwhile, a group of 48 Nobel prizewinners in science have signed on as supporters of Kerry’s bid for the White House.