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Science and Technology


Zero: Relevant Lobbyists and Questionnaires


CIPPIC who had CIPPIC_Questions_2004 about legal/technology issues

Information Technology Association of Canada had Information Technology Association of Canada Questions 2004 about general innovation economy policy

One: Published Policy


Principal Spokesperson: Platform Chair

View Science and Technology(external link) in the official 2004 platform.

Summary policy from pdf file

Science and Technology - Making Our Lives Better

The Green Party supports technologies that make our lives more fulfilling, interesting and sustainable, while minimizing risk our health, our security and the fabric of our society.

The Green Party will:
  • Fund research programs based on input from citizens, academic panels and government sponsored round tables.
  • Prohibit reproductive cloning and require a license for any organization or institution that performs genetic manipulation for commercial or scientific purposes.
  • Require federal departments and agencies to transition to open source or free software for general applications, where possible.
  • Shorten the length of software patents to seven years, to reflect software's faster business cycle.
  • Create a national "don't contact" registry for e-mail spam, telemarketing calls and junk mail, and criminalize spamming.

Two: Speaking Points


A list of "Sound Bites" that can be used by candidates

Three: A Backgrounder

Version: 15
First Cut Edit

Science and Technology

Research Funding

While all governments strive to promote technology and cutting edge research, the difficulty of "picking winners" limits the benefits that are enjoyed by the public. In recent years, The Green Party will focus on creating the best opportunites for our scientists, researchers and innovators, to explore, teach and discover.

A Green Government will:

Allow funding bodies (such as NSERC) to carry-over up to 20% of their budget annually. At present, granting bodies are provided funding on an annual basis, and must spend all of that funding each year. The carry-over would allow the funding body to provide continuity over the medium term (5 years).

Support more Networked Centers of Excellence

"The Networks of Centres of Excellence Program is an initiative of the three granting agencies: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in partnership with Industry Canada. It is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the education of highly qualified people as vehicles for improvements in the quality of life and the growth of value-added economic activity in Canada."

The Green Party will fund research and excellence developing programs based on public priorities as decided by citizens, academic panels and government sponsored Round tables, reducing the arbitrary power excecised by cabinet ministers.

To the funding critera we will add the following conditions:
The number of Canadians who's lives will be effected.
The sustainability of the technology.

Wrap up Technology Partnerships Canada

While helping new companies develop and market new technology is a goal that the Green Party agrees with, having ministers pick and choose which company is supported, and what are the terms of repayment, introduces a risk of favoritism and provides no certainly of public benefit. The alternatives to direct investments in innovative companies are funding increased expertise in our research institutions, funding public institutions that require the technologies, and promoting investment conditions which increase the availability of venture capital.

Technology

New technologies can change our lives in unforseen ways. Often, these changes are for the better, but occasionally the introduction of a new technology threatens to reduce our quality of life. The Green Party's technology policy concentrates on developing and encouraging technologies that will make our lives more fulfilling, interesting, and enjoyable; while minimizing risk to human health, our natural environment, and the fabric of our society.

Canadian Govt Innovation Gateway:
http://www.innovationstrategy.gc.ca/gol/innovation/interface.nsf/vSSGBasic/in04252e.htm(external link)

Patenting of Genetic Material


The Green Party is aware that life is inherently not patentable. Under a Green government, Canada would not grant patents on genetic material, or life in general. No further patents for multicellular life would be awarded.

Reproductive Technologies


Humans have been creating and modifying species since we started farming. However, where our ancestors modified organisms through the slow process of breeding, we are now learning how to insert and delete genes in organisms. Where our ancestors had to wait decades and generations for slight changes in a species, we are gaining the ability to create drastic modifications in species over the space of a single generation.

With this newfound knowledge, comes a raft of moral questions. Before we can hope to answer any of these questions, we must state our ethical stance:
The health of our society, the individuals in it, and the natural world that supports it is paramount.
No human should be made to suffer.
No animal may be made to suffer, unless that suffering is a necessary part of research that may benefit humans or other animals.
Life is intrinsicly valuable.
The genes that describe how to create a species cannot be owned.
The essence of what it is to be human exists in our minds. Until our society has explicitly decided what rights we will afford to animals that share our "essence" of humanity, we will not risk creating them.

The research being performed into reproductive technologies asks profound questions about our definition of humanity, and what it means to be human. It is a question that cannot and should not be made by policy makers, but must be asked of every Canadian. In that light, the Green Party will:
  • Implement the following policies immediately upon gaining power
  • Hold a referendum in parallel with the subsequent federal election to answer the following questions:
  • What kind of research into cloning is permissable?
  • Under what circumstances may new species be created? What restrictions will be put on their creators?
  • Under what circumstances, and by what means may people modify and use their own DNA?

As a run up towards the next election, a Green federal government will promote a series of information sessions into the aforementioned issues. These will take the form of television broadcasts, and community meetings. The intent will be to bring greater understandings of the scientific basis of these questions to the public, as well as to share the opinions and beliefs of individual Canadians.

The result of the referendum will apply solely to genetic modification and reproductive technologies. Although debate is likely to reference past decisions and debates regarding animal rights, abortion rights, and intellectual property rights, the referendum will not reopen past decisions.

The following policy areas will hold stead until the next election.

Human cloning:
A Green Party government categorically opposes reproductive cloning. Such a government will make any attempt to asexually create a human being that is genetically virtually identical to any other human being (living or dead) punishable by fines and jail terms.

Stem cell research holds the possibility for creating tissues, organs, and entire biological systems for transplant into patients.
A Green Party government will allow the creation of embryonic stem cells through nuclear transfer (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer) for theraputic research. Like the British government, the cells created through SCNT would have to be destroyed within 14 days of their creation.
A Green Party government would allow surplus cells created through IVF to be used for research.

It is possible to insert genes into already existing species, creating "engineered" organisms. The creation of engineered organisms presents two clear risks: the contamination of the biosphere with DNA that may weaken eco-systems (through extiction due to over-population of an engineered species, for example); or may allow viruses to more easily cross between species.

At present, the risks caused by the release of engineered organisms into the environment is unknown. A Green Party government will:
Make the release of engineered plant and bacteria species (whose DNA can easily cross with other species) into the environment illegal. Organizations researching such organisms will be responsible for ensuring that modified genetic material does not escape into the wild. Organizations wishing to do such research will be required to post a bond that will cover the likely cost of clean-up. Organizations (including importers) responsible for the release of engineered genetic material into the biosphere, will be held financially responsible for the cost of clean-up.
Make the release of fertile engineered animal species illegal. All individuals being released outside of a lab environment must be rendered sterile. Organizations wishing to import or produce an engineered species must be covered under a license, as well as post a bond that will cover the likely clean-up costs of locating and retrieving a likely number progeny.
Make the creation of species whose individuals suffer unnecessarily illegal, unless for purposes of scientific research.

----------------------------

Science and Technology

monopolies on information will be restricted

Science

Green Party science policy deals primarily with encouraging innovation and promoting research in scientific fields.

Funding for Public Medical Research


Currently, pharmaceutical companies are responsible for researching, proving, publicizing and promoting treatments for Canadian patients. These treatments have repeatedly proven
  • only incrementally better than existing treatments
  • more expensive than alternative treatments that are of comperable benefit
  • over marketed to health care professionals

Additionally, private pharmaceutical companies have hindered the development of treatments by
  • restricting access to internal research
  • attempting to skew the results of clinical trials
  • cutting the development cycle artifically short in an attempt to rush treatments to market
  • patenting existing treatments, thereby limiting research into similar therapies

Pharmaceutical companies have hindered the proper delivery of therapies by
  • keeping therapy prices higher than the cost of production
  • improperly marketing therapies to health care providers and recipients
  • providing incorrect or misleading information regarding the value of the therapy (relative to other therapies)

In order to provide treatment that is of higher value, lower relative cost, the Green Party envisions a public healthcare research body. The body would be financed by a tax (less than 2%) on therapy consumption (over the counter and prescription pharmaceuticals). The revenue generated by that tax would be put directly into a public theraputic care research body that would be responsible for allocating spending on theraputic research, as well as verifying the value of existing and proposed therapies.

All research conducted by the body would be kept in the public doman. Production of therapies developed by the organization would be licensed for production to private companies. The Green Party acknowledges that it will take the body a minimum of ten years to generate any therapies of potential value.

See http://cansim2.statcan.ca/cgi-win/cnsmcgi.exe?Lang=E&RootDir=CII/&ResultTemplate=CII/CII_&Array_Pick=1&ArrayId=2030008(external link)
for potential revenue. Of course, it would cost at least $36 for me to find out the value of that revenue.

Species at Risk

Multi-year funding

Funding bodies

While all governments strive to promote technology and cutting edge research, the difficulty of "picking winners" limits the benefits that are enjoyed by the public. In recent years, The Green Party will focus on creating the best opportunites for our scientists, researchers and innovators, to explore, teach and discover.

A Green Government will:

Allow funding bodies (such as NSERC) to carry-over up to 20% of their budget annually. At present, granting bodies are provided funding on an annual basis, and must spend all of that funding each year. The carry-over would allow the funding body to provide continuity over the medium term (5 years).


http://www.cfbs.org/policy.html(external link) - Good policy links
http://www.cap.ca/about/lobby.html(external link) - Concerns about public spending

Support more Networked Centers of Excellence

"The Networks of Centres of Excellence Program is an initiative of the three granting agencies: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in partnership with Industry Canada. It is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the education of highly qualified people as vehicles for improvements in the quality of life and the growth of value-added economic activity in Canada."
http://www.nce.gc.ca/Eng/chair.asp(external link)

The Green Party will fund research and excellence developing programs based on public priorities as decided by citizens, academic panels and government sponsored Round tables, reducing the arbitrary power excecised by cabinet ministers.

To the funding critera we will add the following conditions:

The number of Canadians who's lives will be effected.
The sustainability of the technology.

Wrap up Technology Partnerships Canada

While helping new companies develop and market new technology is a goal that the Green Party agrees with, having ministers pick and choose which company is supported, and what are the terms of repayment, introduces a risk of favoritism and provides no certainly of public benefit. The alternatives to direct investments in innovative companies are funding increased expertise in our research institutions, funding public institutions that require the technologies, and promoting investment conditions which increase the availability of venture capital.

Technology

New technologies can change our lives in unforseen ways. Often, these changes are for the better, but occasionally the introduction of a new technology threatens to reduce our quality of life. The Green Party's technology policy concentrates on developing and encouraging technologies that will make our lives more fulfilling, interesting, and enjoyable; while minimizing risk to human health, our natural environment, and the fabric of our society.

Canadian Govt Innovation Gateway:
http://www.innovationstrategy.gc.ca/gol/innovation/interface.nsf/vSSGBasic/in04252e.htm(external link)

"Intellectual Property Rights" and the Patenting of Genetic Material

Richard Stallman? explains why the term 'intellectual property' is a seductive mirage. Greens agree. But of all attempts to claim 'rights' in discoveries the most offensive is the attempt to patent life forms:

The Green Party is aware that life is inherently not patentable. Under a Green government, Canada would not grant patents on genetic material, or life in general. No further patents for multicellular life would be awarded.

Reproductive Technologies

Humans have been creating and modifying species since we started farming. However, where our ancestors modified organisms through the slow process of breeding, we are now learning how to insert and delete genes in organisms. Where our ancestors had to wait decades and generations for slight changes in a species, we are gaining the ability to create drastic modifications in species over the space of a single generation.

With this newfound knowledge, comes a raft of moral questions. Before we can hope to answer any of these questions, we must state our ethical stance:

The health of our society, the individuals in it, and the natural world that supports it is paramount.
No human should be made to suffer.
No animal may be made to suffer, unless that suffering is a necessary part of research that may benefit humans or other animals.
Life is intrinsicly valuable.
The genes that describe how to create a species cannot be owned.
The essence of what it is to be human exists in our minds. Until our society has explicitly decided what rights we will afford to animals that share our "essence" of humanity, we will not risk creating them.

The research being performed into reproductive technologies asks profound questions about our definition of humanity, and what it means to be human. It is a question that cannot and should not be made by policy makers, but must be asked of every Canadian. In that light, the Green Party will:

Implement the following policies immediately upon gaining power
Hold a referendum in parallel with the subsequent federal election to answer the following questions:
What kind of research into cloning is permissable?
Under what circumstances may new species be created? What restrictions will be put on their creators?
Under what circumstances, and by what means may people modify and use their own DNA?

As a run up towards the next election, a Green federal government will promote a series of information sessions into the aforementioned issues. These will take the form of television broadcasts, and community meetings. The intent will be to bring greater understandings of the scientific basis of these questions to the public, as well as to share the opinions and beliefs of individual Canadians.

The result of the referendum will apply solely to genetic modification and reproductive technologies. Although debate is likely to reference past decisions and debates regarding animal rights, abortion rights, and intellectual property rights, the referendum will not reopen past decisions.

The following policy areas will hold stead until the next election.

----------------------------

Human cloning:

A Green Party government categorically opposes reproductive cloning. Such a government will make any attempt to asexually create a human being that is genetically virtually identical to any other human being (living or dead) punishable by fines and jail terms.


Stem cell research holds the possibility for creating tissues, organs, and entire biological systems for transplant into patients.

A Green Party government will allow the creation of embryonic stem cells through nuclear transfer (Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer) for theraputic research. Like the British government, the cells created through SCNT would have to be destroyed within 14 days of their creation.
A Green Party government would allow surplus cells created through IVF to be used for research.


It is possible to insert genes into already existing species, creating "engineered" organisms. The creation of engineered organisms presents two clear risks: the contamination of the biosphere with DNA that may weaken eco-systems (through extiction due to over-population of an engineered species, for example); or may allow viruses to more easily cross between species.

At present, the risks caused by the release of engineered organisms into the environment is unknown. A Green Party government will:

Make the release of engineered plant and bacteria species (whose DNA can easily cross with other species) into the environment illegal. Organizations researching such organisms will be responsible for ensuring that modified genetic material does not escape into the wild. Organizations wishing to do such research will be required to post a bond that will cover the likely cost of clean-up. Organizations (including importers) responsible for the release of engineered genetic material into the biosphere, will be held financially responsible for the cost of clean-up.

Make the release of fertile engineered animal species illegal. All individuals being released outside of a lab environment must be rendered sterile. Organizations wishing to import or produce an engineered species must be covered under a license, as well as post a bond that will cover the likely clean-up costs of locating and retrieving a likely number progeny.

Make the creation of species whose individuals suffer unnecessarily illegal, unless for purposes of scientific research.


Problems/Opportunities

Stem cell research isn't always popular:

  • We support stem cell research, and allow for DNA to be inserted into eggs, and their cell-division to be triggered. The cells are allowed to divide for up to 14 days. At the end of the 14 days, the embryo is no more than a sac of semi-differentiated eggs. Its body plan is indistinguishable from that of any other mammal.
  • People occasionally have a problem with this because it is possible that, if the cell is implanted into a womb, it could survive and produce a viable adult (depending on your definition of "viable" — clones tend to be prone to a raft of bizarre disorders that condemn them to short lives). Since this involves dealing with human genetic material, there are very rigorous ethical requirements. The scientific community in Canada has a very good record on ethics. Such experiments will only be allowed in situations where similar animal research will not yield meaningful results.
  • Britain has identical laws.
  • It has been argued persuasively by the scientific community that research must be done into this area in order to understand the basics of cell differentiation. Research is being done into trying to "regress" any tissue back from its differentiated form (skin cell, muscle cell, neuron, etc) to a stem cell. To date, this has been unsuccesful. There have been a number of promising approaches, but they haven't produced any results yet. When they do, we will slam the door on the creation of human embryos. Regressing a cell back to a stem cell, without understanding the differentiation from stem cell to differentiated cell is rather like trying to guess what the original word was in a game of telephone — when you don't know the number of participants, who they are, or the language they speak.
  • The general policy, in a nutshell:
    • Stem cell research holds amazing promise — by avoiding it or outlawing it, we are condemning ourselves to ignorance about some of the most important life processes.
    • The creation, modification, or cross-breeding of humans is explicitly outlawed by our policy.
    • We will actively encourage research into techniques for creating stem cells from already differentiated (ie "somatic") cells.
    • This research would only be performed in tightly monitored public institutions — away from commercial interests, and solely for theraputic purposes.
  • The question of right and wrong on this one comes down to beliefs of when life begins. Biologically, a 14 day old blastocyst (the embryo) is little more than a collection of genes and cell walls. Cell differentiation has only just begun. "Life" has not yet begun — there is no metabolism, it is not self sustaining, nor is there any real structure. Life, continued differentiation, and structure can only arise if the blastocyst is implanted into a host. Which is something we specifically prohibit, and have made a criminal offense under law. One that will result in long jail times and high fines.
  • If someone plays the Frankenstein card, remind them that Frankenstein is not a story about technology run amok, but a story of a creator who will not take responsibility for his creation. We take full responsibility. We fully realize gravity of creating a life, which is why we specifically prohibit the creation of a human life through any form of cloning.


Policy Detail

Supporting References

Federal Department:

One Line Policy Statement:

Thrust:

Principle:

Values:

Benefits

Stakeholders and Advocates:

Budget Implications

Public Relations

Parties:

Edge:

_Positioning:_

Endorsements

Headlines/Messaging:

Commenting instructions:


Please comment on this policy, but keep the following in mind:

  1. If your comment relates to a specific portion of the page, please copy that text into your comment, and indicate specifically what you are referring to
  2. If you have issues with part of the text, please suggest replacements
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