Anti-1080 lobby issues a press statement – and then it shies away from media questioning

Dave Hansford, a science and environment writer, sensed the same whiff of rat that was niggling our olfactory senses at Point of Order the other day.  He proceeded to investigate and reporteds his findings in an item, Dead rats, a mystery lab, and the very curious antics of the anti-1080 lobby, which was published on The Spinoff.

The whiff followed the release by an anti-1080 lobby of “lab tests” which – the group contended – found poison in vermin that washed up in Westport last month.

This directly contradicted the findings of Landcare Research, which had tested carcasses for 1080 and found none. (In necropsies, Massey University was unable to establish a cause of death).

Hansford set out see if the lobby’s claims stand up to scrutiny.

He failed to flush out the identity of the laboratory which did the testing: Continue reading “Anti-1080 lobby issues a press statement – and then it shies away from media questioning”

Toxicologist is called in to help sort out contradictory findings on 1080 and wildlife deaths

We smell a rat when one laboratory report says testing has  detected 1080 in dead rodents collected on the West Coast, contradicting the findings of another laboratory report which found no evidence of the controversial poison.

The identity of the laboratory which produced the first-mentioned report is being kept confidential “for the security and safety of the independent chemists involved … ”

The secret lab’s findings challenge the Department of Conservation insistence that 1080 was not found in any of the wildlife tested by Landcare Research and Massey University veterinarians.

Who should we believe?

The Science Media Centre asked for help in tackling that question by asking for  comment from Dr Belinda Cridge, in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at University of Otago.  Her observations can be read HERE. Continue reading “Toxicologist is called in to help sort out contradictory findings on 1080 and wildlife deaths”

An emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion has an impact (and raises questions) on Marsden Fund grants

Questions are raised on the AgScience blog about the allocation of grants from the Marsden Fund this year.

The fund is managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi on behalf of the government and presumably its decisions reflect government policy.

The allocation of $83.671 million (excluding GST) to 125 research projects across New Zealand was announced this week.

The society says the 2019 grants support excellent New Zealand research in the areas of science, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities

The AgScience post reports a dearth of grants for science in the agricultural and horticultural sector.

It also questions whether the money is being invested in the best projects or has been allocated on the basis of other considerations. Continue reading “An emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion has an impact (and raises questions) on Marsden Fund grants”

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”