Friday, November 10, 2006

Biolawmakers

November 7, 2006, did more than change the political color of Congress from faintly red to faintly blue. Some biolaw issues will be significantly affected by the elections' results. Here are a few of the headliners.

Evolution. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), one of the most powerful cheerleaders of "intelligent design", lost his Senate seat in the wake of the Tammy Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District decision. State schoolboards in both Kansas and Ohio shifted towards the pro-evolution position. Darwin's theory seems to be outcompeting "intelligent design" in the struggle for curricular existence.

Stem Cell Research. A Missouri ballot initiative constitutionally limiting legal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research succeeded. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who earlier this year declared that "Every family in American is one phone call or one diagnosis away from needing the benefits of stem cell research... This research has the biblical power to cure", assumes the reins of power in the House of Representatives.

Global Climate Change. The party of Al Gore is likely to try to ride the new wave of enthusiasm for the global climate change issue.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ("ANWR"). Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the champion of ANWR, was reelected by an unexpectedly large margin. Without new drilling for oil, the caribou, muskox, and polar bears will all be able to sleep more soundly at night.

The Endangered Species Act. Richard Pombo (R-California), the scourge of endangered creatures everywhere, was defeated by Jerry McNerney (soon D-California), an alternative energy entrepreneur. The Delhi Sands Flower-Loving Fly, the Northern Spotted Owl, and even the Virgin Islands Tree Boa will feel more loved than they have for years.

The Pharmaceutical Industry. With Henry Waxman (D-California), of Hatch-Waxman Act fame, about to become chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, generic drug companies will cheer while big pharma will fear. Generic biologics may move a step closer to reality as well.

Beyond the guarantee of voluminous quantities of hot air emanating from both parties, the next Congress is sure to be an especially exciting one for issues of biology and law.

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