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SMC Heads-Up: Sept 27 - Oct 4

SMC Heads-Up:
The upcoming week in sci-tech


Issue 3, Sept 27 - Oct 4


Dear science and tech reporters,

Upcoming events, new research and SMC backgrounders and a taste of what might be on the news agenda science-wise next week. Contact us at the SMC for any more information.

Have a great weekend

Peter Griffin
manager
Science Media Centre


National's science policy shake-up


National officially released its science policy yesterday, which confirmed some of the details previously leaked, including the scrapping of the Government's Fast Forward fund, a reduction in the R&D tax credit in favour of increased direct Government funding of science and the appointment of a Prime Minister's Science Advisor. Several other political parties have already published their science policies, including the Greens, United Future and New Zealand First. Labour's science policy published in 2005 is outlined here. Contact the SMC if you want feedback on the policies from scientists or their representative bodies.


The UK and the USA already have science advisors working at a high-level in government. Here's an interview in Science with Britain's chief science advisor, John Beddington. A sample - Beddington on genetically modified crops as an answer to world food shortages:

"GM is not going to be the only answer. I would say is that the knowledge of the plant genome is going to be absolutely critical to improving agricultural production. GM is only one of the sort [of] techniques that can be used. But marker-assisted breeding and other aspects could be used equally well."


Carbon emissions higher than ever

In 2007, carbon released from burning fossil fuels and producing cement increased 2.9 percent over that released in 2006, to a total of 8.47 gigatons, or billions of metric tons, according to figures released today by the Australia-based Global Carbon Project. That's at the high end of IPCC scenarios. More here.


Eco-labels: A threat or an opportunity?

The Australian Science Media Centre held an interesting online briefing this week about the trend towards eco-labeling and the use by British retailers of food-miles as a measure of how far a product has come. The briefing is still available here.The issue is equally important to New Zealand food exporters facing the tyranny of distance.

Just last month, The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall told a climate change conference in Auckland that he knew of one dairy exporter who had been turned down by a British retailer, with food miles cited as the reason. But distance from a supplier doesn't always measure best the energy consumed in making and shipping primary products. Do exporters need to get into eco-labeling to protect their lucrative markets? For experts on the subject contact the SMC.


New from the SMC


A new Science Byte backgrounder looks at the area of biomaterials and the work underway in New Zealand in this area.


A science Alertwrapping up feedback from scientists on the new genetics research infrastructure involving the universities and CRIs.


New research

- An Australian report finds that the health and wellbeing of Australians aged around 25 years and under have been declining on a range of measures over the last 20 years,

- Warmer homes help chldren with asthma - New Zealand research just published in the British Medical Journal.
Storm over Statins - The Controversy Surrounding Pharmacologic Treatment of Children - an article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. For a New Zealand perspective, contact the SMC.


Upcoming sci-tech events


eResearch Australasia 2008: 29 Sep - 1 Oct 2008, Melbourne.
Focus on raising awareness for eResearch activities in Australia and the Asia Pacific Region, Information sharing and networking among those engaged in eResearch activities. Details here.

Risks and rewards in commercialising research: 2 Oct, AUT, Auckland 3pm. Professor Stephen Henry, Professor of Biotechnology at AUT and CEO, KODE Biotech Ltd. discusses the complexities and risks associated with commercialising research.
contact: bonnie.brannigan@aut.ac.nz for details.
ANZ Society for Risk Analysis conference: 30 Sept - 1 Oct, Canberra. Where science plays a role in the management of human health, safety, and environmental risks. Details here.


ENDS

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