Newsletter Digest: GM forage, the CRI Taskforce report and awards entries

Leading scientists examine GM issue

As part of a Science Media Centre briefing for journalists to be held on Tuesday, Agresearch chief scientist Steven Goldson will lead a panel of experts looking at the potential benefits and risks of introducing genetically modified pasture crops in New Zealand.

The Royal Society has prepared a paper on the subject as part of its Emerging Issues series which last year also covered ocean acidification and the consumption of water in the production of goods and services.

Genetically modified crops have been grown in contained environments in New Zealand for research purposes but have yet to be released for commercial use outside of labs.

Journalists interested in taking part in the online briefing should contact the SMC.

GM applications get public hearing

Meanwhile, a public hearing will be held next Monday and Tuesday in Hamilton as the Environmental Risk Management Authority takes submissions on a research application from Agresearch to develop genetically modified goats sheep and cattle.

One of the justifications for pursuing genetic modification in both forage crops and cows is that genetic traits could be introduced that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the cows.

Efforts to reduce pastoral greenhouse gas emissions will also be in the spotlight next Wednesday with the launch in Palmerston North of the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, which will coordinate research efforts in this area across the science sector.

CRI Taskforce report due next week

The Government is expected to release the report of the CRI Taskforce next week, a much-anticipated document that will outline a plan to get more value out of the country’s Crown Research Institutes.

The taskforce has been led by entrepreneur and former president of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Neville Jordan.

The report is expected to recommend changes to the purpose, governance, funding, ownership, accountability and collaboration mechanisms for CRIs but no change to the current number of CRIs.

Qantas Awards – last chance to enter

A reminder that the deadline for applications for the print version of the Qantas Media Awards is 5pm, Monday, March 1st.

The awards have had a bit of a revamp this year with the number of categories pared back. This appears to be a good move as the awards had become unwieldy with numerous categories many of which received little attention anyway.

There are no electronic submissions for Qantas entries this year, so to meet the deadline, you’ll need to get your entries onto a CD, DVD or USB and couriered or mailed to the organisers by Monday. Entry details on the Qantas Media Awards website. Good luck to all entrants.

Sciblogs in Research Blogging awards finals

Sciblogs contributors David Winter (The Avatism) and Aimee Whitcroft (misc.ience and SMC media advisor) are finalists in separate categories of the Research Blogging international science blog awards.

Research Blogging is a well respected website that “allows readers to easily find blog posts about serious peer-reviewed research, instead of just news reports and press releases”. It was set up by US-based publisher Seed Media, which is also behind the popular science blog network

David and Aimee were selected as finalists from 400 nominees – congratulations to both of them. The awards will be announced on March 23.