The Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) is an independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise.

We aim to better inform public debate on the major issues of the day by improving links between the media and the scientific community.

BRIEFING: Health impacts of wind farms – release of NHMRC statement

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EMBARGO LIFTED 15.30 AEDT Wednesday 11 February 2015Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

NEWS BRIEFING – TODAY 11 February at 14.30 AEDT Online

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is releasing its statement on Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health as well as the accompanying Information Paper and supporting documents. The findings in the documents are based on a rigorous assessment of the scientific evidence on wind farms and human health, conducted using internationally-accepted methods, which looked at over 4,000 papers. read more

EXPERT REACTION: UK MPs vote to allow mitochondrial DNA transfer, labelled ‘three-person IVF’ by the press

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The House of Commons MPs voted 382 to 128 in favour of the creation of babies with DNA from two women and one man – a technique that could stop genetic diseases being passed from mother to child.

The UK could now become the first country to introduce laws to allow the creation of babies using mitochondrial DNA transfer techniques. A further vote is required in the House of Lords, and if that goes ahead then the first such baby could be born next year.  read more

BACKGROUND BRIEFING: The science behind the death penalty

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BACKGROUND BRIEFING – Wednesday 4 February at 12:00 noon AEDT onlineClick here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

Two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, convicted of drug-trafficking in 2005, are facing imminent execution by firing-squad after having their pleas for clemency recently rejected by the Indonesian President. In the US tomorrow, a man is scheduled to be put to death in Texas, a state with a long history of execution. But what can science tell us about the death penalty? read more

EXPERT REACTION: Organic pollutants linked to early menopause (PLOS ONE*)

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EMBARGO LIFTED 06:00 AEDT Thu 29th Jan 2015

A US study has found that women who are exposed to higher levels of certain pollutants called endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which act like hormones, begin menopause around 1.9 to 3.8 years earlier than women who were exposed to lower levels. The researchers suggest that 15 of the 111 pollutants tested, all of which were present for extended intervals in the body, should be investigated due to their potential effects on ovarian function.

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Tribute to Darren Osborne

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All of us at the Science Media Centre were saddened to hear of the passing of the ABC’s Darren Osborne. We have known Darren since he wrote for AAP in 2007 and have always been impressed by his enthusiasm and his news nous in all things science. He was one of those unsung heroes of science communication, not only writing news stories himself but commissioning and editing pieces and connecting people.

EXPERT REACTION: Hormone contraceptive linked to brain tumours in women (British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology*)

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 16:01 AEDT Day Thursday 22 January, 2015

A Danish study has reported that young women who have taken a hormonal contraceptive – including the commonly used oral contraceptive pill – for at least five years may be at a higher risk of developing a rare type of brain tumour. The researchers found a statistically significant link between hormonal contraceptive use and glioma risk, but caution further research needs to be done to prove the link.

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EXPERT REACTION: Fish oil products fail on freshness (Scientific Reports*)

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EMBARGOED UNTIL 21:00 AEDT Wednesday 21 January, 2015 

Most fish oil supplements sold in Australia and New Zealand are lower in omega-3 fatty acids than their labels claim, according to Australian and New Zealand research. Looking at 32 brands of fish oil capsules marketed in the two countries, the researchers found that only three contained the same concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids as listed on the label. read more

EXPERT REACTION: 2014 hottest year on record

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The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. More information, including video, can be found in a joint release from NASA and NOAA scientists. read more

BRIEFING: Have we f*#%ed the planet yet? (Science & Anthropocene Review)

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EMBARGO LIFTED 06:00 AEDT FRIDAY 16th JANClick here to follow a recording of the entire briefing

NEWS BRIEFING – Friday Jan 16th at 09:30 AEDT online 

Humanity has altered the planet to such a degree that we risk destabilising Earth’s natural systems, warns Australian-led research published in the journal Science. The damage we’ve already done could potentially force a complete change in the state of the planet, which may render our home a whole lot less hospitable for future generations, say the scientists. read more