New Scientist: Researchers Should Join with Activists in Examining Food Biotech Regulation
In this week's edition of the New Scientist magazine, I have a commentary article on the UK controversy over genetically modified wheat and the lobbying efforts in the U.S. to label food containing GM ingredients. Below is an excerpt:
CONTROVERSY over genetically modified wheat is building to what seems likely to be confrontation in the UK on 27 May.
On that day, the anti-GM group Take Back the Flour has called for protesters to gather 30 minutes from London at the site of field trials, and to "decontaminate" the area by destroying the crop. Researchers involved with the trials have responded with an open letter and video appeal to the protesters, urging restraint.
But as this case and emerging food-biotech conflicts in the US show, an easy, communication-based fix is elusive. If scientists want to ensure they can do such research, they need to join activists in critically examining the system which governs this technology and its commercial use...
...The controversy over GM wheat and the US lobbying underscore the need for scientists to join activists in discussing weaknesses in our regulatory process and commercialisation regimes. Until these are addressed, no amount of smart communication is going to shift the conversation.
Rather than blaming public opposition for limiting scientific enquiry and assuming that communication can fix the problem, scientists should join activists in considering whether the policy arrangements that have long benefited their research are adequate for managing complex questions that transcend environmental and health risks.
In doing so, scientists and food activists are likely to gain a better understanding of each other, and to recognise common ground and points of compromise.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, Lama Rod grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life's work based on compassion for self and others.
- "What I'm interested in is deep, systematic change. What I understand now is that real change doesn't happen until change on the inside begins to happen."
- "Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Patriarchy is toxic. We have to let that energy go so we can stop forcing other people to do emotional labor for us."
We were gaining three IQ points per decade for many, many years. Now, that's going backward. Could this explain some of our choices lately?
There's a new study out of Norway that indicates our—well, technically, their—IQs are shrinking, to the tune of about seven IQ points per generation.
Here's why generalists triumph over specialists in the new era of innovation.
- Since the explosion of the knowledge economy in the 1990s, generalist inventors have been making larger and more important contributions than specialists.
- One theory is that the rise of rapid communication technologies allowed the information created by specialists to be rapidly disseminated, meaning generalists can combine information across disciplines to invent something new.
- Here, David Epstein explains how Nintendo's Game Boy was a case of "lateral thinking with withered technology." He also relays the findings of a fascinating study that found the common factor of success among comic book authors.
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