Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – June 13, 2014

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By: Bethanie Morrison

photo credit: Renée S. Suen via photopin cc

photo credit: Renée S. Suen via photopin cc

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

Japanese Stem Cell Debacle Could Bring Down Center –The RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) may be forced to shut down in order to prevent a recurrence of research misconduct, according to a statement released from a press conference regarding this matter in Japan on June 12.  Haruko Obokata, Yoshiki Sasai, and Teruhiko Wakayama all will likely face severe disciplinary measures based both on research misconduct (Dr. Obokata) and lack of oversight (Dr. Sasai and Dr. Wakayama).  These measures may extend as high as to the Director of CDB, Masatoshi Takeichi.  This misconduct is not only the result of unreproducible results on a new method to reprogram mature cells into stem cells by Dr. Obokata, but also due to the strong desire of CDB to publish the latest stem cell method without regard for proper protocol.  These findings were the result of two RIKEN-formed committees, an investigation committee and a reform committee.  Disciplinary actions will be decided by yet a third committee.

Health Officials Call for More Fish in Diets of Children and Pregnant Women – In an update to its recommendation in 2004, the FDA is now calling for pregnant women to consume at least two servings of low-mercury seafood per week.  The upper limit of only three servings has been scrutinized by physicians who believe that the benefits gained by both the pregnant mother and her child of eating fish during pregnancy far outweigh the risks, as long as the fish is low in mercury.  High mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, and albacore tuna should still be avoided during pregnancy, nursing, and in young children.  Studies have shown that children born to women who consume fish during pregnancy have higher I.Q.s and better behavioral development.  Dr. Roger B. Newman, the director of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the Medical University of South Carolina and a member of the Perinatal Nutrition Working Group believes that the recommendations are on the low side, but they are a step in the right direction.

UK Chief Scientist Calls for Urgent Debate on Climate Change Mitigation – Sir Mark Walport, the top science advisor to the government of the U.K., recommended that the government move past the debate on whether climate change exists to discussions on what to do about it, according to his interview with The Guardian.  He would like top scientists and engineers with ideas and who can communicate well to come forward and engage the public in a debate based on evidence, not politics.  At the same time Sir Walport acknowledges that ultimately how to combat climate change is not a science decision, but a policy decision. In order to be a good policy decision, however, the evidence from scientists must be taken into account by the policy makers.  The debate must move on from the experts in climate change, who are typically asked to speak at public engagements, and onto the experts in the realm of solar panels, agriculture, or insulation.  Changing from whom the general public hears and well as with whom policy makers engage will help to drive the conversation forward.  Hopefully more solutions will be employed and more arguments ended.

Have an interesting science policy link?  Share it in the comments!

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

June 13, 2014 at 11:13 am

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