Archive for June 4th, 2009

The Vatican Supports Genetically Modified Crops

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 4, 2009 1:04 pm

mg20227114200-1_300.jpgAccording to New Scientist, the Vatican supports genetically modified crops to combat world hunger.

GM crops were heartily endorsed at a week-long seminar held by the academy in mid-May. Participants agreed that the crops offer food safety and security, better health and environmental sustainability.

Good.  The human population is burgeoning and we need changes in agricultural policy to keep science at pace with global food demand. In past years, the rising cost of food has led to riots around the world and exposed how vulnerable many regions are to widespread instability when price increases. Ever more limited resources combined with the need to boost agricultural yield means we’ll need genetically modified crops and the biggest hurdles will be implementing associated policies and dispelling the misinformation that plagues the public.  I may not always agree with the Vatican, but whatever their motivations may be, I’m very pleased that genetically modified crops have their blessing.

MORE ABOUT: food shortage, GMOs, vatican

Dozing Atop the Flood Walls

By Chris Mooney | June 4, 2009 11:57 am

Jerry Coyne has not yet responded to my first post, so far as I can tell. But I hope to have up a second one up today, defending the science-religion reconciliationist position from a legal perspective. The basic point that I will develop will be that reconciliationism played a key role in the biggest pro-evolution victory in this decade, Judge John E. Jones III’s ruling in the 2005 Dover trial. This on its own doesn’t make the court-endorsed accommodationist position true–judges are not our ultimate arbiter on either science or philosophy. But it does suggest that if we care about the teaching of evolution, we ought to think very, very hard before undermining a position that has succeeded so well in court.

But that’s just a teaser, an argument to be developed at more length soon. In the meantime, I want to draw attention to my latest Science Progress column, which is on a very different subject–the beginning of hurricane season. It’s supposed to be an average year, not a bad one, at least according to the pre-season forecasts. But it only takes one storm to devastate us, and we all know there will be > 0 storms in the Atlantic this year.  Moreover, Congress continues to fail us when it comes to making much needed new investments in hurricane research. As I put it:

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End The Silence

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 4, 2009 9:40 am

I have received a tremendous amount of email regarding Silence Is The Enemy.  Many letters arrived from victims; several revealing they have never spoken out publicly.  Among these were multiple heartbreaking stories from men–some who have lived with the secret of sexual assault for decades–describing the way their lives have been dramatically impacted by guilt, shame, embarrassment, and anger. Let me be clear: The initiative that began Monday to end the silence is not focused on one gender or limited to a single specific region.  The purpose is to draw more attention to the crisis globally and encourage everyone to talk about it and act.

This very week in Florida, four teenage boys were charged–as adults–after admitting to the repeated sodomy of a 13-year-old boy. The details are here, but I’d like to direct your gaze to a few sentences in particular:

Multiple people witnessed the attacks, but no one reported the incidents, including the victim, Hindman said.

and:

The prosecutor said the victim’s screams could be heard outside the boys’ locker room at Walker Middle School, in southern Tampa, where the allegedly assaults took place.

and:

Several students witnessed the incidents over the two months, said the prosecutor, who added that she could not understand why no one reported the attacks.

End the silence.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education

Laying Out a Comments Policy

By Chris Mooney | June 4, 2009 8:25 am

While we encourage and appreciate commentary from readers, we cannot allow the tenor of dialogue to be lowered or debased, or for one individual to ruin an otherwise constructive dialogue. Our general rule is that comments must be substantive and on topic, and must avoid profanity, personal attacks, and hectoring. It is for us to judge who has violated these principles; and if, after a warning, behavior doesn’t change, we reserve the right to moderate comments at our discretion.

Our policy is, in general, much the same as that of Carl Zimmer–“light but firm”–though he’s more eloquent. But the same basic principles apply. We are not responsible for any comments other than our own.

Thank you for reading and participating here at The Intersection.

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