Policy Positions

We monitor both the legislation of scientific activities (research funding and oversight) and the use of scientific evidence in crafting legislation (evidence-based policy). In each category, we have developed positions on particular policy issues based on scientific evidence. Once candidate bills have been identified, they are assessed for relevance to each of the following topics and evaluated according to these positions. Some bills may have broad impact across multiple categories; some may even have a positive impact in one category despite a negative or mixed impact in another. For this reason, a single bill may be evaluated in multiple categories.

Science Funding & Oversight

Science Funding: Funding science is good for the economy, promotes advances in health and technology, and keeps the US competitive on a global scale.

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Nature MethodsResearch!America

Government Oversight of Research: Responsible oversight of scientific research protects humans, animals, and taxpayers. Oversight decisions should be informed by evidence and involve scientists. Furthermore, decisions about how to distribute science funding once appropriated should be left to scientific experts; involving legislators or “national interest” requirements in grant decisions is an undue burden that can decrease the diversity of science and open the door to financial and political influences that are not based on evidence.

Sources: National Academies Press 1 2 3, The FASEB Journal, National Geographic

Education Policy


Evolution: Evolution is the scientific consensus and should be the standard in public science education.

Source: National Academies Press

Sex Education: Abstinence-only education leads to more adverse outcomes in sexual behavior. Comprehensive sex education reduces teen pregnancies and the incidence of STIs. 

Sources: World Health Organization, Journal of Adolescent Health 1 2 

Public Health & Drug Policy


Health Insurance: Access to health insurance increases patients’ self-reported physical and mental health and their utilization of health services including preventive medicine. Many leading causes of death can be limited by preventive medicine, and some types of preventive medicine save money. Single-payer healthcare results in lower administrative and overall costs per patient.

Sources: World Health Organization, National Academies PressInstitute for New Economic Thinking, New England Journal of Medicine 1 2, National Bureau of Economic ResearchNew York Times

Reproductive Rights: Comprehensive sex education reduces teen pregnancies and the incidence of STIs. Access to contraceptives decreases rates of unintentional pregnancy and abortion. Restricting abortion access leads to increases in illegal and unsafe abortions.

Sources: World Health Organization, National Academies Press, Journal of Adolescent Health 1 2, The Lancet, Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, Journal of Political Economy

Sexual and Gender Identity: Sexual and gender identity are biologically based.

Sources: National Academies Press, Harvard University, The Scientist

Drugs: Drug scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act is not based on scientific evidence. Preventing scientific research on drugs limits our ability to make evidence-based policy decisions and advances in health care.

Sources: American Journal of Bioethics, National Academies Press 1 2, Scientific American, Neurology, Science & Practical Perspectives, Washington Post, Vox

Vaccines: Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary for herd immunity.

Sources: National Academies Press 1 2 3 4

Crime & Incarceration Policy

Incarceration: Solitary confinement can have neurological and psychological effects that constitute cruel and unusual punishment. As adolescent brains are not fully developed, treating teenagers as adults in the criminal justice system is neurologically inappropriate; children treated as adults have higher rates of recidivism than those who are not treated as adults.

Sources: National Academies Press 1 2, Scientific American, Raise the Age, Scientist Action and Advocacy Network

Gun Control: The U.S. has a higher rate of mass shootings and gun deaths than in other countries. Banning research on guns has limited our ability to make informed policy decisions. Allowing research on the effects of gun control measures on crime will enable legislators to form evidence-based gun policy.

Sources: National Academies Press 1 2 3, World Health Organization, Epidemiologic Reviews, Scientific American 1 2, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, FiveThirtyEight


Environment & Energy Policy

Climate Change: Climate change is real, largely due to human activity, and poses risks to public health and the economy. 

Sources: National Academies Press 1 2 3, World Health Organization, National Center for Science Education

Energy: Renewable energy sources conserve our environment and promote economic growth and public health.

Sources: National Academies Press 1 2 3 4, Ruhr Economic Papers, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Environmental Research Letters, Nature Climate Change

Genetically Modified Organisms: GMOs are safe, reduce pesticide use, and serve as a tool in feeding a growing global population.

Sources: National Academies Press 1 2 3, World Health Organization, Journal of Food Science and Technology