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News Alert

The weekly News Alert forms the cornerstone of the Science for Environment Policy service.

Subscribers receive a regular news bulletin by email, free of charge, which summarises scientific studies in easy-to-read language with policy implications clearly highlighted. The studies are carefully selected for quality and European policy relevance.

Full details of the research paper that each article is based on are provided, along with contact details for the lead author of the original study, should subscribers wish to find out more.

Latest Alert

Issue 485

Oilseed rape genes transfer from inside to outside of crop fields: study could aid GM risk assessment

This study is one of few to assess the genetic diversity of crops in an agroecosystem over several years. Researchers analysed the genetic makeup of oilseed rape plants within and outside crop fields over four years. They found similarity between cultivars of field plants in one year and those of feral plants (unplanted) in the following year. They also found persistence of the cultivars within the feral plants, which suggests that feral populations with genetically modified (GM) traits might result from persistent GM traits within field seed banks. The researchers say their findings could aid impact assessments of GM crops.

Waste materials are an underused resource in the construction of Europe’s roads

Recycled waste material could play a major role in the construction of roads in Europe, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. A new study proposes a scenario where 50% of the asphalt for Europe’s roads consists of recycled materials, leading to significant reductions in costs, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Combinations of veterinary antibiotics may harm algae

Combinations of antibiotics used in veterinary medicine could harm the growth of algal communities when they pass into water bodies from treated livestock, according to recent European research. Algae play vital roles in ecosystems by cycling nutrients and producing energy from photosynthesis; veterinary use of antibiotics should, therefore, be monitored in the environment, including for any biological impacts on algal species, the study recommends.

Environmental DNA in rivers can assess broad-scale biodiversity

Traces of animals’ DNA in the environment, known as environmental DNA (eDNA), can be monitored to paint a picture of biodiversity, new research shows. This study used eDNA to assess biodiversity in an entire river catchment in Switzerland. Importantly, the eDNA technique allowed the researchers to detect both aquatic and land-based species in river water, making it possible to assess biodiversity over a broad scale.