Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Science Policy Around the Web – August 21, 2015

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By: Amy Kullas, Ph.D.

Photo source: pixabay.com

Genetically Modified Organisms

Scotland says ‘no’ to GMOs        

In March 2015, the European Union (EU) agreed on an amendment to its genetically modified organism (GMO) regulation. The amendment allows individual member countries and devolved authorities to restrict or prohibit GMOs (including reasons ‘other than science’) in food or feed once the EU has approved a GMO. Previously, GM crops were approved at the European level.

This amendment allows Scotland to ban GMO crops. As Richard Lochhead, Scotland Rural Affairs Secretary, confirmed that the Scottish government will submit a request that Scotland be excluded from any European consent for allowing GM crops. Thus, the growth of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will not be allowed in Scotland. To justify this decision, Mr. Lochhead stated: “Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment – and banning genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status.” Latvia and Greece have already submitted their requests to the EU to ban GM crop cultivation in those countries.

This decision by Scotland has troubled many scientists because Lochhead made his decision without public consultation. Almost 30 scientific societies and organizations are urging the Scottish government to reconsider this ban. Further, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Society of Plant Breeders have requested a meeting with Lochhead to discuss the “scientific evidence on GM crops”. Lochhead responded “I will be happy to meet representatives of the science community and reassure them that these changes will not affect research as it is currently carried out in Scotland. (Ned Stafford and Chemistry World, Scientific American and Erik Stokstad, ScienceInsider)

Animal Rights and Biomedical Research

Has U.S. biomedical research on chimpanzees come to an end?  Follow-up from post on June 26, 2015: ZERO labs have applied for a permit!

Earlier this summer, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) revealed its plan to change its classification of captive chimpanzees, including those used in research laboratories, to endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Additionally, the USFWS also announced that it was going require a permit for doing scientific research on captive chimps.

However, with the implementation deadline of September 14 looming less than a month away, no labs have applied for an ESA permit to conduct research on chimpanzees in the United States. At this point, it is unclear if the biomedical research on chimps has stopped or will stop; however, once stopped it will be significantly more difficult to start that line of research again. The USFWS requires at least 90 days for review of the permit request; therefore no labs will have a permit before upcoming deadline meaning any ongoing projects must stop on September 14. Dr. Robert Lanford, the current director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC), said no research is currently being done on any of the chimpanzees in the Center and that recent research ended early to avoid the upcoming deadline. He further stated “public opinion is currently heavily influencing this process…nobody wants to be the first test case.” (David Grimm, ScienceInsider)

Global Policy

Incentives for vaccination and beyond

In an attempt to increase the immunization rates of poor children, 70 local health clinics, in the Indian state of Haryan, have begun offering parents a free kilogram of sugar if their child(ren) begins the standard vaccination series. Additionally, if the child(ren) finishes the series of vaccines, then the parent will get a free liter of cooking oil. This concept of giving incentives mirrors the model currently used in randomized controlled trials to test the efficacy of new medicines or treatments.

Based on a pilot study, scientists, epidemiologists, and economists gained insight into why the immunization rates are low. In contrast to regions of the United States, the issue is not that people are opposed to immunization. Ester Duflo, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reveals that instead “it is certain obstacles, such as lack of time or money, are making it difficult for them to attend the clinics.” Further, this ideology is translating to other social programs, such as educational programs. This philosophy is generally welcomed in the global development arena as a mechanism to enable governments to: “promote development, relieve poverty and focus money on things that work.” (Jeff Tollefson, Nature)

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

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

August 21, 2015 at 9:00 am

Posted in Linkposts

Tagged with , ,

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