ScienceScope

Science  02 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5753, pp. 1405
  1. No to GMO, Say Swiss

    Pharma and agrochemical companies may “take their research out of the country” now that growing genetically modified (GM) plants is illegal in Switzerland, says Bernd Schips, director of the Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research. This week, Swiss voters approved a 5-year moratorium on the cultivation of GM organisms (GMOs) and the import of transgenic animals. GM field trials and GM food imports are still permitted. “[We] hope Switzerland's rejection of [GM] crops inspires others around the world to … say no,” said Greenpeace's Geert Ritsema. Swiss agbiotech firm Syngenta said its U.S.-based GMO research would be unaffected.

  2. NSF Gender Snoops on Campus

    The National Science Foundation is investigating four institutions that receive NSF research funds to determine whether they are in violation of Title IX—the law that prohibits sex discrimination by any school receiving federal dollars. The move follows a 2004 Government Accountability Office report that charged NSF and two other science agencies with failing to track Title IX compliance.

    The agency declined to disclose the sites being investigated. Chemist Debra Rolison of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., calls the reviews a “good first step” toward using Title IX to improve the gender ratio in technical fields, in the same way that the law has transformed college athletics.

  3. Researchers Get Hippocratic

    Scientists must do no harm, say 68 of the world's science academies. The InterAcademy Panel on International Issues this week released principles for drafting codes of conduct at biology labs. The panel's statement on biosecurity recommends that scientists refuse to do research deemed “only harmful,” take steps to “secure” laboratories, and report activities that violate the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. “Do no harm is an excellent starting point,” says bioweapons expert Ronald Atlas of the University of Louisville, Kentucky, but he acknowledges that certain provisions will be controversial. A call for whistleblowing, for example, could raise questions about where researchers should report violations and how they will be protected, he says.