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August 06, 2010

Warwick Week: TeachFirst, Niqab, Luck and Cloned Meat

Warwick in the News

Teach First Summer Institute on Campus
BBC Radio 4’s PM show were on campus this week (Wednesday) to talk to graduates emerging from the national Teach First Summer Institute. This is the first time the University of Warwick has hosted the Teach First event and around 560 graduates attended to complete the first stage of their six week intensive teacher training. Teach First is an independent charity founded to encourage top graduates, who would not normally enter teaching, to teach for at least two years in challenging secondary schools in London, North West, the East and West Midlands and Yorkshire.
Listen again on BBC iPlayer 0:32.45 (available until Wednesday 11 August)

A Woman’s Right to Choose Should Trump Niqab Ban
Dr Hellyer, Fellow of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations (CRER) has this week commented in The National (Abu Dhabi) on the “niqab issue” and a woman’s right to choose. He said, “…within traditions of the West, we are treading on dangerous ground when we begin to legislate what a woman can or cannot wear of her own volition.”
Read the full story on The National website

The Conservation of Luck
In the first of a new series in the Telegraph, Professor Ian Stewart, Institute of Mathematics, takes a look at how we perceive luck and chance and discusses our chances of winning the lottery!
Read the full story on the Telegraph website

Announcements

Pro Vice-Chancellors 2010-2011
The following academics have been appointed by the University Council to act as Pro-Vice-Chancellors for 2010/11: Professor Koen Lamberts, Department of Psychology for a period of up to 5 years from 1 September 2010; and Professor Tim Jones, Department of Chemistry for a period of up to 5 years from 1 September 2011. They will join Professor Higgott and Ann Caesar who will continue their role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor during 2010/11.Professor Tim Jones has also been elected as Chair of the Board of the Faculty of Science for the 2010/11 academic year.
More information on insite

Mike Glover appointed as Academic Registrar
Following the appointment of Nicola Owen as Deputy Registrar, Dr Mike Glover has been appointed as Academic Registrar and will take up his new role in early October. Mike joined Warwick in January 2002 as Finance Manager in the Leicester Warwick Medical School and was subsequently appointed Senior Assistant Registrar and then School Secretary of Warwick Medical School.
Read more on insite

Research Director of Crop Centre Appointed
The University of Warwick has announced that Dr Rosemary Collier is to take up the role of Research Director of the University’s Crop Centre, part of the new School of Life Sciences, in October.
Read the press release

Research News

The Future of Warwick Ventures
From 1 August, Warwick Ventures began operating as a wholly owned subsidiary company of the University. This development comes just after the 10th anniversary of the creation of Warwick Ventures. During that time it has assessed over 500 inventions, filed over 100 patents, signed 60 licences and created over 40 spin-out companies which now employ almost 200 staff. Chairman, Kevin Gamble, says, "This is an exciting move in the next phase of the development of Warwick Ventures. Those academics and departments who wish to explore the commercial potential of their research will find that from now on Warwick Ventures will be able to make swifter decisions.
Read the press release

The Future of HD TV

Professor Alan Chalmers, International Digital Lab, WMG, has been working with IBM in Austin, Texas, on new technology to enable existing TV sets to display HDR (high-dynamic-range) images that display light and contrast in a way much closer to how the human eye sees them than ordinary photo or video.
Read more in The Engineer

Warwick Comment

Cloned cows: a safe food for humans? Dr Keith Leppard PhD, Department of Biological Sciences
The entry of cloned cattle meat (and possibly milk) into the human food chain is currently preoccupying the British media and the public. But is it just a scare or is there justifiable concern? Let me say at the outset that, if the rules turn out to have been broken, then that should not be condoned. But equally, it needs to be questioned whether the rules themselves are appropriate – is there any reason to think eating cloned animal meat is unsafe?

A cloned animal is special in the way that it is originated, but as a source of food, its safety will be determined in exactly the same way as that of an animal conceived naturally (or what passes for naturally in modern farming!). When we consume meat, we are actually ingesting a complex collection of chemicals that has been put together by the animal it comes from. And the composition of that chemical mix will be determined by the genes of the animal – which code for the enzymes that create the chemical mix - together with the environment it has experienced, most importantly, what the animal has eaten and drunk.

By definition, when an animal clone is created, it has the same genes as an already existing ‘normal’ animal – which we could have eaten with no safety concerns. And once out in the field, the cloned animal is exposed to the same environmental factors as any other animal in the same field. So, there’s no logical reason to expect cloned animal meat to be any different in its chemical composition from normal animal meat and it should therefore be predicted to be safe to eat, even before complex testing to prove the point. And careful reading of the news reports suggests that these tests have been done anyway – and have shown, as logic would predict, no significant difference between the chemistry of natural and cloned meat.

A further point is that the current debate doesn’t apparently refer to the consumption of meat coming directly from a cloned animal, but rather to meat taken from the naturally conceived offspring of such a clone. Any concern about the safety of that meat must be even more tenuous than any worries about the clone itself.

The only potentially valid concerns about the use of animal clones in the human food chain come not from safety considerations, but from ethics. Some people simply regard cloning of animals as morally wrong, while others oppose it on grounds of animal welfare. Everyone is entitled to a view on these points. But from the safety perspective, which should be the issue of concern to the Food Standards Agency, I would argue that a cloned cow should be every bit as fit to eat (or not) as a naturally born one.


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