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Archive for January 2014

Science Policy Around the Web – January 26, 2014

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By: Jennifer Seedorff

photo credit: Cat Sidh via photopin cc

photo credit: Cat Sidh via photopin cc

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Gore Joins UN Backing EU’s 2030 Climate Plan – The European Commission has released its 2030 energy and climate change proposals, including a binding reduction in carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels and a non-binding increase to 27% in the share of energy generated from renewable sources.  Environmental groups have strongly criticized the proposal as being too weak to meaningfully impact global warming, and are particularly disappointed by the switch to non-binding renewable energy targets. However, former Vice President Al Gore and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have a more optimistic view of the proposal. Gore said that the Commission “actually moved aggressively forward adopting a binding target for a 40% reduction in carbon”, while Ban said that the Commission’s proposal “has started the ball rolling” for future rounds of climate negotiations.   (Alex Morales)

FDA to Revise Nutrition Facts Labels – Food labels have not dramatically changed over the last twenty years, but knowledge about nutrition and dietary recommendations have changed. The FDA has been working on revised guidelines for food labels for the last decade and has sent its proposed guidelines to the White House, although a release date has not yet been announced. Some of the possible changes to food labels include: modifying the labels to highlight the amount of added sugars; adding the percentage of whole wheat in a food; using units of measurements, which are familiar to US consumers; changing serving sizes to reflect the amount of food typically consumed by a consumer in a single-sitting or including both per serving and per container nutritional content; removing the amount of calories from fat; and moving some nutritional information to the front of packages to make it easier for consumers to find.  (The Associated Press, Mary Clare Jalonick)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

January 26, 2014 at 10:20 am

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Science Policy Around the Web – January 17, 2014

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By: Kaitlyn Morabito

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

 

photo credit: Greencolander via photopin cc

photo credit: Greencolander via photopin cc

U.S. Science Agencies get Some Relief in 2014 Budget – The 2014 budget agreement was released Monday, and includes increases for US Science Agencies. However, not all fields received equal increases.  Agencies geared towards physical science, such as NOAA, NIST, Agricultural Research Services, and DOE’s Office of Science and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, received budget expansions ranging from ~10%-23.8%. The biomedical science agency, the NIH, however, received only a 3.5% budget increase, beating only one agency, the U.S. Geological Survey.  Agencies such as NASA, NSF and the Census bureau fell between these groups.  (Jeffery Mervis)

 This Week’s Forecast: What Flu Season May Look Like – Scientists at Columbia University have developed computer models to predict how the flu season will unfold in the US in real time.  They have been testing these models since last year and continue to make improvements.  They hope the flu forecast will eventually be part of the local weather report similar to pollution reports and pollen counts which already accompany this news.  The group at Columbia University, lead by Dr. Jeffery Shaman, use Google search engine data, as well as other factors such as humidity, to predict the peak of flu in many US Cities.  These predictions can help hospital staff and healthcare workers prepare for a potential influx of flu patients. (Carl Zimmer)

 FDA: Acetaminophen doses over 325mg might lead to liver damage – In addition to containing opioid drugs, combination drugs such as Percocet, Vicodin and Tylenol with codeine, contain acetaminophen.  Many people are unaware that acetaminophen is an ingredient in these drugs, and may take an additional dose of acetaminophen to help with pain management.  This can lead to acetaminophen doses that exceed the 4,000mg daily maximum recommended by the FDA.  Excessive doses of acetaminophen can lead to liver damage, serious skin conditions and even death.  To help combat this problem, in 2011, the FDA set a limit on 325mg per capsule for combination drugs with a deadline of January 2014.  Any manufacturers who have not followed these guidelines risk losing approval of their prescription drug.  (Holly Yan)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

January 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – January 14, 2014

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Photo credit: Oxfam International via photopin cc

Photo credit: Oxfam International via photopin cc

By: Tara Burke

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Water risk as world warms – Initial results of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project, a project launched by climate-impact scientists to produce a harmonized set of global-impact reports based on the same set of climate data, were published last month. The findings suggest that even modest climate change could significantly affect the living conditions of billions of people. Of all the concerns raised in the study, the scientists warn that access to water is the biggest worry. Even a slight increase of 2 oC above the present level would cause up to one-fifth of the world’s population to suffer severe water shortages. A 2 oC is almost certain to happen by the year 2100. While ambiguities and spread between individual models were large, this study can effectively conclude that even moderate warming can cause intense damage to nature as well as social and economic calamities throughout the world.   (Quirin Schiermeier)

Polio Vaccination Effort in Syria Appears to Have Some Effect – The World Health Organization reported Thursday that the recent polio outbreak in Syria, the first of its kind in 14 years, has been contained. This is a result of an emergency vaccination effort for millions of children. Officials also cautioned that polio in Syria had not be eradicated and warned that the disease may reassert itself when temperatures rise again this spring. The support of the Syrian government, despite the collapse of its public health system, as well as the opposition’s support has aided in the effort to contain the outbreak and vaccinate the children. Also, the highly publicized risks of polio have also pushed parents to get their children inoculated.  (Rick Gladstone)

 What to expect in 2014 – The journal Nature listed science news and breakthroughs to look out for in 2014 that includes promising advances in the areas of space exploration, drug discovery, DNA sequencing, neuroscience, stem-cell regeneration and other disciplines. Emerging neuroscience discoveries are hoping that the US and European brain initiatives will provide funding to further and complete research development of technologies to aid individuals with spinal-cord injuries or paralysis.  Another potential innovation of 2014 is the hope of treating HIV with ‘broadly neutralizing’ antibodies that were shown in by two research teams in 2013 to clear an HIV-related virus in monkeys. This treatment is currently being tested in human patients with HIV and results from the trial are expected in the fall. (Richard Van Noorden)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

January 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm