Tracking the world’s methane emissions from space – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Claire Kaplan
3d ago
The MethaneSAT satellite is set to launch soon, with its mission control to be based in Aotearoa. The project is New Zealand’s first-ever government-funded space mission, however, it’s primarily funded by a US-based nonprofit. Scientists in New Zealand will use the satellite to study global methane emissions from agriculture, while the US-side of the project is focused on finding and measuring methane leaks from oil and gas production. The SMC asked experts to comment. Chris Jackson, Spacecraft Mission Operations Director, University of Auckland, comments: “MethaneSAT provides a great opportun ..read more
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Ultra-processed foods linked to 32 health issues – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Claire Kaplan
3d ago
A new research review reports links between greater consumption of ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of 32 damaging health outcomes, with the most convincing evidence pointing to higher risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and common mental health disorders. The study published in The BMJ conducted a high-level evidence summary, or “umbrella review,” of 45 previously conducted meta-analyses from 14 review articles linking ultra-processed foods with adverse health outcomes. The review articles were all published in the past three years and involved almost 10 million parti ..read more
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Bird flu arrives in mainland Antarctica – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Claire Kaplan
5d ago
The H5N1 virus continues its global spread, having recently been found for the first time ever in mainland Antarctica. Avian flu reached the wider Antarctic region in October last year when it was reported on sub-Antarctic islands. Since 2021, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has gone gangbusters and made its way to almost every continent, but has not yet been detected in New Zealand, Australia or the Pacific Islands. The SMC asked experts to comment. Associate Professor Michelle LaRue, School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury, comments: “Researchers predicted the arri ..read more
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Māori Health Authority to be disestablished – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Claire Kaplan
5d ago
Parliament will today attempt to consider all three stages of a bill to scrap Te Aka Whai Ora – the Māori Health Authority. Te Aka Whai Ora was established in July 2022 in an effort to improve the health and wellbeing of whānau Māori and address inequity in the health system. The SMC asked experts to comment. Associate Professor Clive Aspin (Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Tamaterā), Associate Professor in Health, Associate Dean (Māori), Victoria University of Wellington, comments: “Te Aka Whai Ora represents one of the most innovative and promising initiatives to confront and overcome the ..read more
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EPA says ‘null segregants’ aren’t GMOs – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Claire Kaplan
1w ago
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has just clarified that certain organisms, known as null segregants, are not considered genetically modified organisms. Null segregants are the offspring of genetically modified organisms, but do not contain any genetic modifications themselves. The SMC asked experts to comment. Richard Scott, Science Team Leader, AgResearch, comments: “This clarification provided by the Environmental Protection Authority is a welcome development in that it clears the way for potential new avenues of research for the benefit of New Zealand. “It does not change the w ..read more
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The return of pseudoephedrine – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Claire Kaplan
1w ago
A just introduced bill aims to bring back over-the-counter sales of a cold and flu drug in NZ pharmacies. Drugs containing pseudoephedrine were restricted in 2009, as they can be used to manufacture methamphetamine in clandestine labs. The SMC asked experts to comment. Professor Chris Wilkins, SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, Massey University, comments: “The ban of pseudoephedrine in flu products sold from pharmacies was part of the Prime Minister’s Action Plan on Meth from 2009. It was a response to small/medium scale meth production in New Zealand at the time (closing an easy source of ..read more
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Regulating genetic technologies in Aotearoa – Expert Q&A
Science Media Centre
by Daniel Walker
2w ago
The National Party plans to overhaul restrictions on the use of gene editing and other genetic technologies in New Zealand, and establish a dedicated regulator within MBIE. Two Prime Ministers Chief Science Advisors, Science New Zealand, Plant & Food Research, and a gene editing expert panel convened by the Royal Society Te Apārangi, have all previously supported an update to the current system. The SMC asked experts to outline the current state of genetic technology regulation in Aotearoa, and what could change under National’s ‘Harnessing Biotech Plan’ Dr Revel Drumm ..read more
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Port Hills fire – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Claire Kaplan
2w ago
Fire crews are responding to a large vegetation fire in the Port Hills near Christchurch. Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) was alerted to the fire at 2.15pm today. Ten helicopters and 15 fire trucks are currently battling the blaze. The SMC asked experts to comment. Dr Nathanael Melia, Director & Principal Scientist, Climate Prescience, comments: “Seven years after ‘The Port Hills Fire’ in 2017, another widespread aggressive wildfire took hold on Valentine’s Day 2024. Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) have thrown everything at the fire, including an incredible 12 air assets yesterday; this ..read more
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First UN report on the state of the world’s migratory species – Expert Reaction
Science Media Centre
by Katrin O'Donnell
2w ago
A landmark UN report paints a grim picture of the state of migratory wild animals worldwide, including those that travel through New Zealand, like sharks, whales, albatross, and sea turtles. The report was launched at the meeting for the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), a UN biodiversity treaty. Nearly half of species listed under the convention are in decline, and more than one-in-five threatened with extinction – including 97% of the listed fish. Globally, 399 migratory species threatened or near threatened with extinction are not ..read more
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The science of complexity – Expert Q&A
Science Media Centre
by Daniel Walker
2w ago
International researchers specialising in complex systems like disease spread, creativity, and AI ethics are visiting New Zealand. The Capital City Complex Systems Symposium takes place on 13-14 February in Wellington. The SMC asked the keynote speakers to preview their talks.  Associate Professor Juyong Park, Graduate School of Culture Technology, KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology), comments: The science of creativity: “What do Einstein’s theory of relativity, Beethoven’s sonatas, and Katherine Mansfield’s stories have in common? They are products of human ..read more
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