Science at work in the health sector

Overshadowed perhaps by the government’s push to improve care for cancer patients, an initiative by the Heart Foundation with the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge in making a $2m grant for a research programme, has high significance in the health sector.

Heart disease is NZ’s single biggest killer, claiming the lives of more than 6,300 NZers every year – that’s one person every 90 minutes. More than 22,000 Māori and more than 7,000 Pacific people are living with heart disease.

The new three-year study, the first major programme of its kind in NZ, aims to improve access to healthcare for Māori and Pacific people, which has the potential to achieve equity in heart health outcomes for all NZers.

Continue reading “Science at work in the health sector”

Royal Society report heaps more pressure on government to review GM law – but Green extremists are an obstacle

At  last there’s some  recognition  from  the government  that it needs to  revise   its  policy on   gene editing.   It  follows  a   report  from  the  Royal Society   Te  Aparangi  on the considerable benefits  gene editing  can bring to our lives.

Climate change is being widely accepted  as  one of the greatest  threats  facing mankind.

The  more  extreme  Green lobbyists contend  it could lead to  the  extinction  of the human race —  but the  same  Green lobbyists  resist  the  gene editing  science.

Largely  as a  result  of pressure  from the  Green  Party, the provisions governing gene editing, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), were amended in 2003 in line with the government’s overall policy of proceeding with caution while preserving opportunities.

Work  in  gene  editing  was  not  prohibited ,  but scientists  found  the policy  so  difficult to  navigate   that those     working  in the  field   have been  forced to   conduct  experiments and   trials   abroad. Continue reading “Royal Society report heaps more pressure on government to review GM law – but Green extremists are an obstacle”

The Green Gospel on GM is under challenge – from Shane Jones as well as Sir Peter Gluckman

You’ve got to  hand it to  Shane  Jones.   Even  when  he is not  playing the fairy godfather role in the provinces   he  can   make the headlines.

There  he  was  on the  front page of the  NZ  Herald  last week  with  the message that  NZ  needs  to  review its genetic modification-free “gospel”.

Of  course this raises  alarm bells  among the   Green lobbies,  because  it is an article of  faith among Green  politicians  that they  “saved”  NZ  when  a  ban  was  applied  to the  application of  GM  in this country.

But Jones  reckons  if  NZ is  going to  find a  solution to meet the climate change transition, then it must apply weapons from the arsenal of science and technology.  His intervention followed the concerns raised by the government’s  Interim Climate  Change  Committee  that  laws surrounding  GM could be a  barrier to  lowering  farm emissions.

Continue reading “The Green Gospel on GM is under challenge – from Shane Jones as well as Sir Peter Gluckman”

Lincoln University at last says it, too, includes Maori knowledge in its science classes

Lincoln University administrators did some consulting before answering questions first sent to them on September 21.  They finally answered the questions – about the incorporation of matauranga Maori in science classes – earlier this month but won’t say who was consulted.

The short answer is yes, it is incorporated in their science classes.

  1. Is Maori knowledge incorporated in science courses, at Lincoln University

Yes.

 2.  If so, when was it introduced to science courses, why was it introduced, and is it incorporated in all science courses or just some?

Maori knowledge content began to be introduced into some courses at Lincoln University from around 2005 by individual lecturers who were motivated to do so.  Currently some courses available in 2018 have Maori knowledge content.

The university has been somewhat sparse with the information it provided and is not disclosing the identities of the people whom it consulted after insisting Bob Edlin’s questions be dealt with under the Official Information Act.

All other universities approached for information had replied by early November.  All but the University of Auckland said yes, they did incorporate Maori knowledge in science as well as other courses. Continue reading “Lincoln University at last says it, too, includes Maori knowledge in its science classes”

Lessons from a Nobel Prize winner on the role of government in innovation

New York University professor Paul Romer, who shared this year’s Nobel Prize for economics, documented, quantified and confirmed the assumption that innovation leads to economic growth.

In its announcement, of the award, the Nobel Prize committee said Romer and William Nordhaus “have designed methods for addressing some of our time’s most basic and pressing questions about how we create long-term sustained and sustainable economic growth.”

Romer’s work has focused on confronting the rapid pace of technological change by showing how knowledge can function as a driver of long-term economic growth.

It’s great to have this affirmed because politicians inevitably bang on about the great boost to economic growth they are generating when they announce they are pumping more public money into science, research and innovation.

But as this article in Fortune points out, Romer did more.
Continue reading “Lessons from a Nobel Prize winner on the role of government in innovation”

Science Board approves $422.5m further investment – but progress report is kept secret

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods went public at the weekend to welcome news that New Zealand’s 11 National Science Challenges have received $422.5m in a second tranche of funding.

Her statement can be found on the Scoop website but, curiously, not on the Beehive website.

Her most recent statement on the Beehive site (released yesterday) is headed Surge funding for kauri dieback and myrtle rust research.

The one before that, dated November 8, is headed Critical research being funded via Marsden Fund.  Then she said New Zealand’s top researchers will be able to investigate critical issues and build knowledge across the board supported by $85.64 million over the next three years.

The statement posted at Scoop deals with a much bigger lump of public money.  In this  she said the Science Board, which is responsible for investing Government funds in research, science and technology,

” … approved the second tranche of funding bringing the total investment to $680.8m following a positive mid-way review.” 

Alas, the review is being kept under wraps which means we have only Woods’ word for it that the review was positive and that therefore the second chunk of this investment is justified.
Continue reading “Science Board approves $422.5m further investment – but progress report is kept secret”