Hot Topics

Below are the ‘hot topics’ summaries which the office is keeping a watching brief on. They are designed to be short, easy to read and to capture the main themes of a topic in the New Zealand context.

The number of summaries will keep growing as our work continues – so make sure to check back.

5G and Health

Ministry of Health

Even before the announcement that New Zealand’s first 5G network will start operating in December, questions had been raised about whether this technology might have any consequences for health.  The Ministry of Health has been following this issue and has published an information sheet.  The Ministry’s website also has information about existing cellsites and results from independent monitoring of sites around the country

Download the Ministry of Health report on 5G

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in the United Kingdom has produced an independent and accessible briefing for 5G technology here.

The World Health Organisation has summarised electromagnetic fields and public health concerns here, or for a more detailed analysis, read the 5G briefing paper from the UK House of Commons.

Genetic Editing

The Royal Society Te Apārangi

The Royal Society Te Apārangi has released its report on Gene Editing on the RSNZ web pages.  You can read Juliet’s briefing to the Prime Minister on the report here.

Microplastics

World Health Organisation

Microplastics have been in the news this year, most recently with the release of a report from the World Health Organisation.  You can download a very handy information sheet on this topic here and access the full report here or you can download the complete report using the button below. 

Download the WHO report on microplastics

For what this means in Aotearoa New Zealand, check out this interview with one of our #rethinkplastic planet members, Dr Olga Pantos here.

Resources for science education

The Science Learning Hub has written two articles relating to microplastics: microplastics and How harmful are microplastics?. The article Thinking about plastic – planning pathways explores plastic as a wicked problem and contains an interactive map that curates many of our resources.

Myrtle Rust

Ministry of Primary Industries and Department of Conservation

Myrtle Rust arrived in New Zealand in 2017 and is a threat to a number of native plant species. Biosecurity New Zealand and the Department of Conservation have developed the myrtlerust.org.nz website for information and developments regarding Myrtle Rust.

You can also visit the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation pages for additional information, or read about the symposium on Myrtle Rust hosted by the Ministry of Primary Industries in August 2019.

Resources for science education

The Science Learning Hub has written an article which explores the symptoms, origins, biosecurity response and subsequent approaches taken by MPI. It contains a two column timeline Detecting myrtle rust in New Zealand that details a chronology of myrtle rust in New Zealand and the collaborations that took place between science and industry partners to monitor and attempt to control the disease.

Antimicrobial Resistance

Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor

Antimicrobial resistance is an imminent threat to Aotearoa New Zealand. You can read the information sheet about this topic and the implications for New Zealand.

This work was produced by the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor and it is endorsed by the Science Advisory Network.

Read the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor information sheet with the button below.

Read the PMCSA information sheet

Resources for science education

The Science Learning Hub has written an article which covers an introduction to the history of antibiotics, reasons behind resistance, common-sense approaches we can take, and research looking at novel solutions. It also curates Hub resources on the topic, houses 3 Royal Society Te Apārangi videos and features student work on antibiotic resistance posters.

Folate Supplementation

Ministry of Primary Industries public consultation

The public consultation of folate in food was recently announced by deputy director-general for New Zealand Food Safety Bryan Wilson. The Ministry of Primary Industries is seeking feedback on the proposal document Folic acid fortification: Increasing folic acid availability in food which you can read here.

Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor

A co-written report from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor and the Royal Society of New Zealand explored the health benefits and risks of folate. You can also find background information on the Ministry of Health website here.

Download the full report from Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor with the button below.

Download the PMCSA report

1080

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment reported on the use of 1080 in 2011. You can see download the complete report, a FAQ and an updated commentary at the PCE website here.

Newshub also recently interviewed the former commissioner for the environment, Jan Wright, and you can see that interview, and read a summary of her interview on the Newshub Web page here.

Download the full PCE report as a PDF with the button below.

Download the full PCE report on 1080

Resources for science education

The Science Learning Hub has written an article which covers resources on the science of 1080. It contains a 3 column timeline, which explores the history and science of mammalian pest control in New Zealand. It includes the pedagogical article 1080 – a wicked problem. This article helps guide teachers and students with using the science capabilities in a real-life context – specifically ‘use evidence’ and ‘critique evidence’.

Climate Change

Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor

The previous Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, authored a report on climate change in 2013, and you can find that on our publications page or you can download the complete report using the button below.

Download the PMCSA report on Climate Change 2013

Productivity Commission Report on transitioning to a low emissions economy

The productivity commission recently reported on transitioning to low emissions economy, available on the Productivity commissions website.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi

The Royal Society Te Apārangi has written a number of reports and fact sheets on climate change, including a report on the health impacts of climate change. You can find all of these resources on the RSNZ website.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has a number of reports on various aspects of climate change available on their publications page. You can search their publications by topic. The PCE’s most recent full report on climate change was on Stepping Stones to Paris and Beyond:Climate change, progress, and predictability or you can download the complete report using the button below.

Download the PCE’s report on Climate Change

Resources for science education

The Science Learning Hub has written an article which contains pedagogical advice about teaching aspects of climate change. It contains an interactive map that curates many of our climate change resources.

Contacts

  Phone: + 64 9 923 6318

Mailing Address

Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Victoria Street West
Auckland 1142
New Zealand