Be­ware of what you read, es­pe­cially when the sub­ject is sci­en­tific re­search

Fish Farmer - - Contents-Editor’s Welcome - BY PRO­FES­SOR PHIL THOMAS

Be­ware what you read

In­ac­cu­ra­cies in the news re­port­ing of sci­en­tific re­search are a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence. dhis week, for ex­am­ple, the find­ing that drink­ing a pint of wa­ter be­fore meals in­creased weight loss in a 12-week study of obese pa­tients re­cei ed wide­spread co er­age.

dhe dimes re­ported dhose who drank wa­ter be­fore their meals lost an a er­age of 9.48lb whilst the weight of those who did not drink wa­ter be­fore meals dropped by 1.76lb. A di er­ence of 7.72lb- that s massi e

,owe er, a look at the ournal Kbe­sity re ealed that the study had ac­tu­ally re­ported a mod­est di er­ence in weight loss a mean of 2.46lb, ust bor­der­ing sta­tis­ti­cal sig­nif­i­cance. dhis still made in­ter­est­ing read­ing, but was much less likely to ha e us all rush­ing for the wa­ter ugs

there news items re­late to na­tional pol­icy the prob­lems of con­tex­tu­al­i­sa­tion also raise sig­nif­i­cant is­sues.

Post-de olu­tion, the Sco sh par­lia­ment and Sco sh go ern­ment ha e seem­ingly sought to es­tab­lish na­tional poli­cies go ern­ing al­most e ery as­pect of Sco sh life. dhis has been suc­cess­ful in rais­ing the pro­file of the in­sti­tu­tions and has po­lit­i­cally en­gaged the public, but it has done lit­tle to ad ance the cause of bet­ter in­formed public de­bate.

For ex­am­ple, the go ern­ment s re­cent an­nounce­ment of plans to ban ap­pro al of M crops in Scot­land has cre­ated a public im­pres­sion that we will ban all M tech­nol­ogy. ,owe er, noth­ing could be fur­ther from the case, since ge­netic tech­nolo­gies are al­ready deeply em­bed­ded in the hu­man and an­i­mal healthcare sec­tors, in prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­creas­ingly in pol­lu­tion con­trol and en iron­men­tal re­me­di­a­tion.

us­ti­fi­ably, Sco sh biotech­nol­o­gists work­ing on M crop de el­op­ment and Sco sh arable crop farm­ers are protest­ing strongly against what they re­gard as a na­tional at-earth pol­icy a ect­ing mod­ern crop de el­op­ment. dhey rightly point out that the go ern­ment s plan will ha e long-term ad erse e ects on their sec­tors of the econ­omy and also on the ual­ity of the ru­ral en iron­ment.

,owe er, arable crop­ping in Scot­land ac­counts for only se en per cent of land use and the real strate­gic is­sue is that the Eh is only 33 per cent self-su cient in plant pro­tein crops, and this re­cei es no news­pa­per co er­age at all.

So, across the Eh, the li es­tock and fish farm­ing sec­tors and these form the back­bone of the Sco sh food econ­omy- are una oid­ably de­pen­dent on im­ported plant pro­tein sources. dhus, in prac­tice, poli­cies on M crop culti ation in indi id­ual Eh mem­ber states or re­gions are a side show to the strate­gi­cally im­por­tant pol­icy de­ci­sions on crop­ping that are made out­side the Eh.

dhe ues­tions the new­shounds should be pitch­ing at the politi­cians, and which would bet­ter in­form public de­bate, re­late to the logic and pur­pose of the Sco sh ban in the con­text of global com­mod­ity trad­ing and to the po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties o ered by M crop tech­nol­ogy to ad­dress Sco sh pri­or­i­ties such as car­bon se ues­tra­tion by grass­land (which ac­counts for 85 per cent of Sco sh land use).

Sadly, these im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tions, which should frame the con­tex­tual de­bate, are not ge ng a men­tion.

As Mark dwain once put it if you don t read the news­pa­per you are un­in­formed if you read the news­pa­per you are mis­in­formed. Some things ust don t change a lot

Fish farm­ing here is de­pen­dent on im­ported plant pro­tein sources”

Above: Camelina sati a

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