Nominate a memberScience Policy Newsletter – a weekly round-up of policy headlinesand stories26 March 2021Dear readers, the newsletter team will be taking a short spring break before returning withthe next edition on 23rd April 2021. In the meantime, we would like to take this opportunity tothank you for your readership.This newsletter provides links to published news articles from a range of sources. Views or opinions presented are those of the original author(s) and donot necessarily represent the views of the Royal Society of Biology.NewsRoyal Society of Biology newsRSB urges PM to reconsider research funding cuts: reduction could ‘leave a lasting scar on UKscience’Dr Mark Downs CSci FRSB, chief executive of the RSB, has written to the Prime Minister voicing sectorconcerns following the announcement of 120 million cut to the Global Challenge Research Fund.RSB responds to Defra genome editing consultationIn its response to Defra’s consultation on the regulation of genetic technologies, the RSB highlighted thepotential benefits to society that changes to regulation could enable. The response proposed that organismsshould be assessed on their characteristics, rather than the methods used in breeding. Recognising theimportance of public support for any changes to regulation, the RSB emphasised the need for clarity andtransparency about how products are created and approved, and called for a broad public dialogue.RSB responds to Defra consultation on improvement to animal welfare in transportIn its response to Defra’s consultation on improvement to animal welfare in transport, the RSB focusedmainly on the specific requirements of research animal transport but also provided evidence in relation tothermal conditions and ventilation for livestock species in transport. Our main recommendations are toconsider the specificities of research animal transport outside the scope of this consultation, to establishappropriate rules that take into consideration species-specific welfare needs and the most welfareconsiderate transport routes, and to set up a transport authorisation system that achieves optimal targets ofbiosecurity and animal welfare, without hampering scientific collaborations across borders.The RSB sent a separate letter to the Scottish Government Agriculture and Rural Delivery Directorate inrelation to the Scottish consultation on the welfare of animals in transport, which is a devolved policy matter.COVID-19 BulletinFor further detail on COVID-19 research, news and updates, RSB produces a monthly bulletin collating someof the bioscience behind the outbreak and response. The latest edition, published on the 1st of March 2021,includes updates on: SARS-CoV-2 viral variants; the immunology of COVID-19; public health responses andepidemiological research internationally; advances in COVID-19 treatment; and international vaccinesresearch and roll-out. Plus, tackling misinformation on vaccinations; a new Google-funded open datarepository; and funding for research into the impact of COVID-19 on UK farmer’s mental health. See ourwebpages to read previous editions and subscribe to the next.1

Health and biomedicineLab-grown structures mimic human embryo's earliest stage yetThe experiments use human cells to imitate the blastocyst phase — offering a crucial window into humandevelopment, reports Nature News.Gene therapy innovation hubs launchedThe Medical Research Council and LifeArc, with support from the Biotechnology and Biological SciencesResearch Council, have announced 18m of funding will support the creation of three dedicated facilities toadvance the clinical development of new genetic treatments.Scientists grew tiny tear glands in a dish — then made them cryOrganoids made of tear-producing cells offer chances to study, and possibly treat eye disorders, reportsNature News.Food and drinkMillions sign up to anti-food-waste apps to share their unused produceWith the average UK family throwing out 730 of surplus items a year, eco-conscious consumers have founda hi-tech fix, says The Guardian.First report from new Food and You 2 survey publishedThe Food Standards Agency has published the findings from Food and You 2: Wave 1, their new morefrequent and flexible flagship consumer survey.Agriculture, aquaculture and fisheriesOpinion: Revamp of UK CRISPR regulation will require public trustThe United Kingdom is considering innovative ways of regulating gene editing in food and farming. Robustprocesses and public confidence will be vital for success, according to this Nature Editorial.UK agrees fishing catch limits with EU and NorwayA Government press release describing how the agreement promotes the sustainable management andlong-term viability of cod, haddock, plaice, whiting, herring, and saithe stocks in the North Sea. The catchlevels agreed for 2021 are worth over 184 million to the UK fishing industry.Opinion: What might the future of the UK countryside look like?At a time when political division and social inequality is rife, communicating a shared vision for a sustainable,equitable future for rural land could offer a point of reconciliation, writes Jamie Upton, Policy Advisor for theRoyal Society.Environment and ecologyThe United Nations’ Kunming biodiversity summit delayed a second timeThe Guardian covers how the Covid pandemic continues to hamper plans for key gathering to agree targetson protecting nature.Protecting the ocean delivers a comprehensive solution for climate, fishing and biodiversityNational Geographic covers how a ground-breaking scientific study from 26 international experts offers themost comprehensive assessment to date of where to ramp up strict ocean protection to increase seafoodsecurity, curb biodiversity loss, and provide a cost effective solution to climate change, as well as economicbenefits.2

Trawl fishing ban off Sussex coast aims to restore seaweed forestsA bylaw supported by David Attenborough protects large area of seabed to allow kelp to regrow, reports TheGuardian.How we discovered a hidden world of fungi inside the world’s biggest seed bankWriting for The Conversation, researchers from Kew Gardens describe how they found hundreds of fungihidden inside seeds from the Millennium Seed Bank, some of which are likely to be species new to scienceand could be crucial for the future of plant health.Water and airUK could face water shortages if action is not taken to conserve suppliesThe Environment Agency says we do not have enough infrastructure to store water from wetter winters forthe drier summers, reports Sky News.Climate and energyUKRI awards 171m in UK decarbonisation to nine projectsUK Research and Innovation has announced a milestone in UK decarbonisation, with the award of 171million funding across nine significant projects.Climate change bill plan due before NI ExecutiveDraft proposals for Northern Ireland's first climate change bill will be brought to the Executive shortly, saysBBC News.WasteConsultation on plan to remove harmful chemicals from environmentA Government consultation opens on plans to monitor, reduce and eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants.Animal researchNew tools define immune cells in cattle to aid treatment of diseaseScientists at the BBSRC-funded Pirbright Institute have identified new immune cells in cattle, that could helpto investigate and treat livestock and human diseases.Aberdeen's grey squirrels to be tagged and trackedBBC News covers how grey squirrels in Aberdeen are to be tagged and tracked in an effort to understand theanimals' behaviour in urban areas.Research funding and higher education policyOpinion: Cuts to scientific research would be 'paradoxical'The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published a letter to Prime Minister BorisJohnson, expressing concerns about potential cuts and reductions facing the UK's science budget.UKRI endorses review to reduce red tape for UK researchersUK Research and Innovation has endorsed a new independent review into research bureaucracy launchedby Science Minister Amanda Solloway.Non-EU scientists face exclusion from sensitive Horizon projectsMost collaboration will continue, but an emphasis on building the EU’s ‘strategic autonomy’ meansacademics in Israel, the UK and Switzerland could be shut out of some areas, according to Times HigherEducation.3

UK launches national centre to accelerate AI use in universitiesA team of experts will pilot AI products and provide support and training to institutions, reports Times HigherEducation.Diversity and inclusionOpinion: Inequity of COVID-19 vaccines grows ‘more grotesque every day’ – WHO chiefTedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation spoke to journalists aboutthe impact of inequitable distribution of vaccines.Research culture: where should change start?In this opinion piece, Wellcome invited people from across the research community to share their ideas forchange.Black graduates 'shut out' of academic science and technology careersRoyal Society report shows white students twice as likely as black students to achieve top Stem degrees.Digital technologiesUK joins European network to advance high performance computingUK Research and Innovation has announced two leading supercomputing facilities in the UK have combinedto create a national computing competence centre as part of a Europe-wide network.International newsCoronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation DashboardThe World Health Organisation summarises the reported number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.Genetic make-up of destructive crop pest unravelledResearchers have decoded the genetic make-up of whitefly species that spread plant diseases and damagecrops, raising hopes for tackling the devastating pest, according to SciDev.Net.Groundwater depletion in India ‘threatens food security’SciDev.Net covers how a new study shows that groundwater depletion may cause a 20 per cent reduction inIndia’s crops by 2025.How Does That Song Go? This Bird Couldn’t SayNew generations of a critically endangered species of songbird are failing to learn the tunes they need forcourtship. It could lead to extinction, says The New York Times.Both African elephant species are now endangered, one criticallyFor the first time, a major conservation body has recognised the savanna elephant and forest elephant astwo separate species—and they’re in dire straits, reports National Geographic.PeopleVaccine engagement starts working with the mediaBritish Society for Immunology (BSI) member, Dr Zania Stamataki discusses her experience of working withthe media and the benefits of public engagement for career progression in this case study for BSI’s new'Vaccine engagement starts.' series.4

Opportunities#MembershipMayWe will be celebrating RSB members throughout the month of May, as part of our social media#MembershipMay campaign. For the opportunity to showcase your bioscience interests/work and share whatbeing part of the RSB means to you, email [email protected] to fill in a short questionnaire andbe featured on our platforms.Can you help to inspire the next generation of researchers?The Nuffield Research Placements (NRP) programme is looking for RSB members who can providesupervised online research projects for post-16 students this summer. These supervised research questionactivities will be set within a virtual learning environment over a two- to three-week period in July and/orAugust and are a great opportunity for you to benefit from a highly motivated student’s help on a currentproblem. If you would like to express your interest in supporting the Nuffield Research Placementsprogramme this summer, please complete this short form.Closes: 30 April 2021Royal Society of Biology Photography Competition 2021‘Interconnected’ is the theme of this year’s Royal Society of Biology Photography Competition. Life on Earthis connected and this year we invite you to capture these interactions. The competition has two agecategories each with a cash prize: 18 and over ( 1000) and under 18s ( 500).Closes: 23 July 2021The Nancy Rothwell Award 2021The Nancy Rothwell Award 2021 specimen drawing competition for 7 – 18 year olds is now open forsubmissions. Prizes include art materials for students and their school can also win 100. Visit the RoyalSociety of Biology website for more information.Closes: 30 July 2021RSB ambassadors - open for applicationsAre you an enthusiastic, active and engaged member of the RSB who would like to act as a key contact forthe RSB at your workplace, while encouraging others to get involved? Apply now to become an RSBambassador. N.B. At this stage, we are only accepting applications from UK-based members at the AMRSB,MRSB and FRSB grade.Closes: 31 July 2021ConsultationsDraft update to the UK National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention on PersistentOrganic Pollutants (POPs)The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on behalf of the Devolved Administrations, isconsulting on a draft update to the National Implementation Plan for POPs. The update covers ‘new POPs’and also sets out the information available for these substances and plans to monitor and eliminate them inthe future.Closes: 14 May 2021Draft policy statement on environmental principlesThe Government is consulting on the draft policy statement on environmental principles which sets out howfive internationally recognised environmental principles should be interpreted and proportionately applied.Closes: 2 June 2021R&D Tax ReliefsThe Government launched a review of R&D tax reliefs at Budget 2021. This wide ranging consultation seeksviews from stakeholders on the current R&D tax relief schemes.Closes: 2 June 2021RSB Policy Resource Library onlineThe RSB has created a searchable, digital library of more than 800 statements, responses, briefings and5

other policy resources produced by the RSB and our Member Organisations across the biosciences. Thiscollection is freely and openly accessible to everyone, including members and non-members, through themySociety portal (no registration necessary).EventsSenedd Elections Science Hustings 20218 April 202117:00 – 18:30 BSTThe Royal Society of Biology is jointly organising a special Science Hustings in advance of the elections tothe Welsh Senedd in May.HUBS Annual Meeting 202112 – 13 April 2021Register now for the Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS) annual conference online. This two-day virtualconference is an opportunity to hear from diverse and influential voices in higher education. It will includesessions on research, policy, learning and teaching, diversity and inclusion and awarding gaps. Keynotespeakers include Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser FRSB (UKRI) and Professor Julia Buckingham FRSB(Universities UK).Policy Lates: Bridging the Gap - Supporting students through educational transition24 April 202118:30 – 20:30 BSTA free, online Policy Lates event exploring challenges and opportunities for students as they transitionbetween stages of education.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all RSB events will continue to take place online and updated information willbe made available on the RSB events pages. We recommend also checking other external event webpagesfor updates and continuing to monitor and follow official advice.And finally.These birds flock in mesmerising swarms of thousands—but why is still a mysteryDefending against predators can’t completely explain why European starlings create such incredible patternsin the sky, writes National Geographic.Royal Society of BiologyScience Policy Team1 Naoroji StreetLondonWC1X [email protected] note that any views or opinions presented in this email are solelythose of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the RoyalSociety of Biology.Click here to unsubscribe from this publicationOr, manage your subscription to this and to other RSB publications by signing in (or register for freeif you don't have an account) to mySociety and selecting ‘My Subscriptions’ under 'Me and the RSB',then scroll through the options and select 'Science Policy Newsletter'. Royal Society of Biology 2021. Registered Charity Number: 2779811 Naoroji Street, London, WC1X 0GB6

Dr Mark Downs CSci FRSB, chief executive of the RSB, has written to the Prime Minister voicing sector concerns following the announcement of 120 million cut to the Global Challenge Research Fund. RSB responds to Defra genome editing consultation