Science+Europe=accuracy fail

I went to a very interesting event about science journalism in the UK last year at the Royal Institution which I blogged about about the time. One of my conclusions was that many of the issues faced by science journalism reflect very closely issues faced on coverage of European issues. Science isn’t covered well by the general press. Neither is Europe, on the whole. So when you put the two together, as the Daily Mail did this morning, then you can imagine what comes out.

Needless to say, the Daily Mail over-simplified, if not to say ridiculed, the real situation. The project has found ways to improve fruit storage, reduce waste, cut pesticide use and  encourage children to eat fruit instead of sweets. These are important things. An interesting fact: The EU produced 7.7 million tonnes of eating apples in 2008.  So if research like this can cut costs so that apple prices fall by just one penny per kilo that will mean annual savings for consumers of £64 million – or more than five times the cost of the project. Never mind the health benefits of reduced pesticide use, and the suffering caused by allergies (I know alot about that one!) This was the first project to quantify the cholesterol-reducing properties of apples, which can have a direct effect in reducing medicines taken – saving health services money.

Of course, we could have told the Mail all of this if they had bothered to ask us…

3 Comments

Filed under Euromyths, science

3 responses to “Science+Europe=accuracy fail

  1. Well, Open Europe was identified as a Eurosceptic Think Tank at least…

    Could this report translate into new legislation, or is it aimed at improving best practice in the industry by spreading information?

    • antonia

      Not directly, though research can sometimes form part of the scientific basis for European legislation. But for every research project that does, there are many, many that don’t. The decision on what to finance from research funds is taken on the basis of independent scientific assessment, not what is needed for legislation. That’s what the JRC/EFSA/EEA/ECA are for, plus the various scientific committees composed of national experts.

  2. Pingback: bloggingportal.eu Blog & Support » Blog Archive » The Week in Bloggingportal – A Crowd of Talkative Europeans

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