Newsletter digest: Terminations, 1080 alternatives and Reel Science

Women face long wait for abortions

New Zealand women seeking an abortion can expect to wait an average of 25 days after their first visit to a doctor before the procedure is carried out, according to research published online today in Reproductive Health, an open-access, peer-reviewed publication.

The University of Auckland research team found that more than fifty percent of women in the study terminated their pregnancy on or after the tenth week of pregnancy, often despite seeking help much earlier. This raises concerns over potential complications, which become more likely the longer a pregnancy progresses.

Senior Research Fellow Martha Silva, who lead the study, comments, “This is the first large scale study of termination services conducted in New Zealand and highlights the need for a closer attention to women’s experiences while accessing these services. To avoid further inequities in service, best practices must be identified to ensure that all clinics, regardless of whether within the public or private sector, can minimize the amount of time women have to wait for a procedure”

Ladies in waiting: the timeliness of first trimester pregnancy termination services in New Zealand – Martha Silva, Rob McNeill and Toni Ashton; Reproductive Health, 2010 (published online).

1080 alternatives – what and when?

While the last 12 months have seen a record period of new pest control product registration, workable alternatives to 1080 could be as far as 6 years away, according to scientists who took part in an SMC briefing earlier this week.

In 2007, the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) put out a call for alternatives to the the toxin, amid mounting pressure to find a more humane and targeted approach to pest control in New Zealand.

Scientists are looking into a number of approaches, from poisons to baits which turn pests infertile. One of the issues, according to toxicologist Dr Charlie Eason, is that most toxins being investigated are for tuberculosis vectors animals such the possum – rabbits, on the other hand, have been largely left out due to lack of funding.  However, it is hoped that toxins approved for one species, may be able to gain approval for an extension to others.

In addition to toxins and fertility blocking, research into the use of plants for natural pest control is also being undertaken.

The audio for the briefing can be listened to here, and registered journalists can access the presentation slides in the SMC Resource Library.

Student films reel in praise

The finalists and winners for the 2010 Reel Science Film Festival have been announced: this year, the winning entry covers the issue of how not using antibiotics properly can lead to increasingly virulent strains of diseases.

Funded by the Freemasons Society and run through the Royal Society of New Zealand, the festival is aimed at senior secondary school kids, and aims to encourage science geeks, budding filmmakers and storytellers to make informative, short films on a science-related subject of their choice.

Although given only 36 hours to make the films themselves, students were able to attend workshops in the week prior, to improve their camera and editing skills.

A range of different topics were covered, from genetic engineering to epidemics, and the judges, made up of people from the film industry, said they were impressed with the films’ quality, especially given the inexperience of the students.

Links to each of the films can be found below:


Christian Jones and Allen Feng from Pakuranga College, Auckland,  Film Title: Immunity


George Xian, Philip Allan & Jim Huang from Burnside School, Christchurch , Film title: Bloodline

Wilson Cain, Orion Holder-Monk and Jordan Keen from Wellington High School, Film Title: 7478

Richard Martin, Henry Bennett and Julin Le-Ngoc from Papanui High School, Christchurch; Film Title: The Health Inspector

Kyle Teague, Juni Lee and Aaron Jelley from Nayland College, Nelson, Film Title: Goodbye Blue Sky

Alice and Rachel Yuretich from Kaitaia College, Northland, Film Title: The Virus