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Topic: [ME] A few news briefs: UK, France and EU
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ME] A few news briefs: UK, France and EU
Posted: Feb 4, 2000 3:56 PM
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From USA Today, Monday, December 27, 1999, p. 4D
Science's Image Problem

British teens regard scientists as boring, work-obsessed "geeks," according
to survey results presented at Tuesday's British Psychological Society
conference in London. The survey of 250 kids ages 15 to 17 found that
scientists are stereotyped as "dangerous cranks" who spend too much time in
the lab. On a positive note, the teens expect that scientists by 2030 will
have developed cures for important diseases and solved some crucial
environmental problems. That is, those geeks who haven't been "interfering"
with nature or creating weapons of mass destruction.

From La Tribune (France), November 10, p. 1

Renowned biologist and AIDS pioneer Luc Montagnier, writing in the columns of
a major business daily recently, offers an argument from biology in favor of
ethical behavior and the validity of ethical questions. For Dr. Montagnier, the
human race is a new, highly organized set of cells, themselves highly organized
sets of molecules, that has not yet found its means of regulation. Given the
complexity of human knowing, as well as the fact of consciousness, Montagnier
believes that regulation must spring from a sense of responsibility. He cites
as examples environmental degradation, which results from advances made by the
species without responsible controls and which leads to sickness and death. Or
infectious disease, which often reaches epidemic proportions due to poor living
standards for a significant percentage of the race, a case of irresponsible
organization. While every other level of life has been forced to adapt by
pressure from above, human life, according to Montagnier, must find its
motivation simply in its knowledge, its awareness, of what is at stake. But
awareness presupposes education, which in turn requires a level of material
justice and equality of access. Redistribution, then, is a key to the survival
of the human species. Another link between knowledge and ethical behavior:
biological engineering is giving the human race the power to design its own
descendants for the first time in billions of years of life. Montagnier also
sees the need for a researchers oath, like the Hippocratic one sworn by
doctors, wherein scientists would solemnly commit themselves to carrying out no
research potentially destructive of the human race.

From L'usine Nouvelle [France], January 13, 2000, p. 64
By Pierre Laperrousaz

... At one year of age, the bio-engineering firm Virtual Genomes has
just signed its first big contract with a chemical company and is well on
its way as a supplier of organic molecules. The company's key technology is
a genetic know-how enabling it to modify the metabolic processes of plants,
micro-organisms and animals to produce molecules of industrial value. The
firm's founders, a former Pasteur Institute researcher and an experienced
entrepreneur/biology professor, explain their vision of an artificial
biodiversity capable of supplying a great range of organic components using
techniques which boast two big advantages over conventional chemical
industry processes: they are non-polluting and much less costly in energy
since they take place at ambient temperatures. Virtual Genomes is about to
move into new quarters in the same building as the National Genotyping
Center here at France's showcase "genopole."

From Les Echos, January 5, 2000, p. 39 -- by Alain Perez; Libération,
January 4, 2000, p. 25, by Sylvestre Huet. See

The Observatoire des Sciences et Techniques (OST) in Paris has just
published a new edition of its S&T indicators, "Indicateurs 2000," and its
most headline-grabbing revelation is that in 1997 EU scientific
publications outweighed articles of US origin by a small fraction. By
comparison, as recently as 1982 total US publication was 20% greater. While
this new parity will likely only increase a frenetic competitive emphasis
on centers of excellence, especially in key areas like genomics and
biotechnology, European scientific growth is due to a quite different
dynamic. EU funding has played a crucial role in the development of new
scientific centers in Europe, such as Madrid, Milan, Stockholm, and
Helsinki (representing 10% of total research expenditure in Holland, Spain,
Finland, Denmark and Belgium and even more in Ireland, Portugal, and
Greece), and it is these new sources of research production that have put
Europe over the top. If world science is becoming bipolar (at least until
further growth in Chinese S&T) within Europe leadership is more
multifaceted. OST's tome provides a number of keys to understanding the
development of scientific metropolises in Europe. Taking into account both
number of publications (scientific production) and number of patent
applications (technological production), Paris is the European center of
S&T activity, with London second and Munich third. Besides confirming the
leadership of the traditional university centers, the ranking underscores
the success of German regional S&T centers; of the 60 top cities or
regions, 20 are found in Germany. Another aspect of the science map of
Europe is the rapid research growth of certain cities due to a combination
of local initiative and EU funding. Barcelona, Rome, Milan, and Lyons all
significantly increased their scientific publication. The picture that
emerges nonetheless reinforces the image of economic concentration that
strikes any observer of the EU landscape: the so-called blue banana
extending from southern England through Belgium, Holland, Germany and into
northern Italy. Whether the Mediterranean littoral, the Atlantic balcony,
or the Scandinavian attic can grow bananas remains for future volumes of
S&T indicators to answer. In France, future trends are even less clear, as
the city/region ranking throws a harsh light on entrenched efforts to
regionalize science. With Paris the EU leader overall and second in both
publications and patents, only a handful of other zones, poles,
"campus-cities," or agglomerations even show up in the first 60, with Lyon
the second French showing in the overall ranking in 29th place. In light of
these results, Some French observers are wondering what has been the use of
siphoning off Parisian S&T energy, saying that science policy has been
borrowing from Peter without even paying Paul.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)


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