ASBMB opposes the DETERRENT Act

Feb. 20, 2024

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology opposes the Defending Education Transparency and Ending Rogue Regimes Engaging in Nefarious Transactions (DETERRENT) Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., and the U.S. Senate by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., While the ASBMB understands the need to strengthen research security, this bill would irreparably damage international collaboration and ultimately slow scientific progress.

If passed, the bill will amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require additional information in disclosures of foreign gifts and contracts, as well as restrict contracts with certain foreign entities and foreign countries of concern, including, Iran, Russian, North Korea and China. The bill would also prohibit public institutions from entering contracts with countries of concern unless the U.S. secretary of education issues a waiver.

The society opposes the legislation as it will harm the scientific enterprise and alienate Chinese students and scientists from collaborating with scientists in the United States. The broad definition of contracts includes all research contracts, including those with graduate students and postdoctoral scientists from China. International scientists make up a significant portion of the U.S. scientific workforce. Prohibiting contracts and agreements with Chinese students and scientists will reduce U.S. competitiveness, as the nation is already facing a STEM workforce shortage.

As the society has said before, international collaboration is vital to innovation and to the growth of the American scientific enterprise. International collaboration is an important component of domestic scientific progress: It allows researchers to exchange ideas and achieve outcomes in complex research fields that no single country can fulfill alone.  

The ASBMB urges Congress to remove any language in the current bill that will stifle research agreements, prevent important advances and discoveries, and weaken the standing of the U.S. scientific enterprise.