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ATSE column

Time for a New Focus on Food

By Julian Cribb

Civil wars over food in northern Africa at a time when around half of Australians are dying as a result of their diets present the greatest scientific challenge of our time.

Few people seem to have noticed that two governments went belly-up in North Africa recently – as a result of riots that began as protests over the price of food.

Food insecurity is growing worldwide as demand for food grows and the things we need to produce it – land, water, oil, nutrients, fish, technology and stable climates – become more scarce. At the same time around half of Australians are dying as a result of their diets, at enormous cost to those that live.

Chief Questions for Science Advice

By Robin Batterham

It’s time to review how government receives its scientific advice following the resignation of Chief Scientist Penny Sackett.

Governments must look to the wealth of scientific and technological skills available to them to help develop evidence-based policies on important economic and social objectives. These include population strategy, food production, low-carbon energy supplies, water management and national productivity – as well as the implications for risk management and remediation around national emergencies, which often flow from extreme climate events.

Don’t Rush the Science Curriculum

By Lesley Parker and Alan Finkel

The rush to implement the new Australian Curriculum is jeopardising the future of science, engineering and maths education.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in schools is essential for a prosperous, informed and scientifically and technologically competent nation. But Australia needs a significant and immediate investment in STEM teachers as we face a critical period in the development and implementation of the new Australian Curriculum. The investment in teachers is necessary to compensate for previous underinvestment.