Canberra’s National Art Gallery recently provided the setting for Science meets Policymakers, hosted by Science and Technology Australia, in partnership with the Australian National University.
Over three hundred participants – scientists, researchers, public servants, academics, innovators, communicators and politicians – participated in the event that explored the complex relationship between scientific research and policy development.
Staff Association President Michael Borgas and Secretary Sam Popovski attended the event on behalf of members.
The keynote address was provided by Professor Nina Fedoroff from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In her address, Dr Fedoroff took aim at the emotive and often inaccurate public debate about the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops, asking ‘Where will the food come from in a hotter, more crowded world?’
Dr Fedoroff said that despite billions of dollars in research and decades of testing to develop new crops that satisfy strict approvals by regulators – the perception amoung the general public that GM crops are not safe, remains widespread.
Panelists for the plenary sessions that followed included CSIRO Deputy Chief Executive Mike Whelan, ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young, Productivity Commission Chairman Gary Banks AO, Canberra University’s Linda Botterill and the Crawford School’s Bruce Chapman AM and Tom Kompas.
There was a broad consensus that a number of ideas discussed were worth developing for the future.
These included ensuring that research reports were published in a readable, engaging and accessible format; identifying and recognising the value of scientific skills within the Australian Public Service, and changing academic reward structures to recognise contributions to public policy development.