SciCombinator

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Concept: Citizenship of the European Union

39

More than 130 million microwaves are affected by European Union (EU) legislation which is aimed at reducing the consumption of electricity in the standby mode (‘Standby Regulation’) and at more sustainable management of end-of-life electrical and electronic waste (‘WEEE Directive’). While legislation focuses on these two life cycle stages, there is little information on the environmental impacts of the entire life cycle of microwaves. To address this gap, this paper presents a comprehensive life cycle assessment of microwaves and assesses the environmental implications of the Standby Regulation and the WEEE Directive at the EU level. The impacts are first considered at the level of individual appliances and then at the EU level, with the aim of evaluating the potential environmental implications of the full implementation of the above two EU regulations by 2020. The effects of the electricity decarbonisation and the expected increase in the number of microwaves in use have also been considered. The results suggest that implementation of the EU regulation by 2020 will reduce the environmental impacts considered by 4%-9% compared to the current situation. The majority of these reductions is due to the Standby Regulation, with the contribution of the WEEE Directive being small (~0.3%). However, the expected decarbonisation of electricity will result in much higher reductions (6%-24%) for most impact categories. The results also show that the materials used to manufacture the microwaves, the manufacturing process and end-of-life disposal are environmental hot-spots for several impacts, including depletion of abiotic elements. Therefore, efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of a future electricity mix should be combined with the development of specific eco-design regulations for microwaves that stipulate optimisation of resource consumption. Possible future trends, such as shorter lifetimes and limited availability of some resources, make the development of such product regulations more critical.

Concepts: Citizenship of the European Union, Waste, European Union law, Green computing, Recycling, Regulation, Directive, European Union

27

The rapid uptake of biotech crops around the world demonstrates not only strong producer and consumer demand for the technology and its products, but also that where regulatory regimes function effectively and markets are allowed to operate as normal, co-existence between genetically modified (GM) and non-GM supply chains is readily achievable. However, the polarized debate over GMOs within the European Union over the past 15 years has resulted in a highly politicised and progressively impractical approach to the issue of GM crop co-existence, which in itself has become a further barrier to the technology’s development. This article argues that co-existence should not be treated as a pro- or anti-GM issue, and that the aim of co-existence measures should be to permit consumer choice and freedom to operate whatever the production method involved. It suggests that supply chain-based solutions to co-existence, rather than Government prescription, offer the most pragmatic and flexible response to the commercial realities of servicing differentiated market demands.

Concepts: Citizenship of the European Union, Europe, Genetic engineering, Agriculture, Genetically modified food, European Union, Supply and demand, Genetically modified organism

27

The European Union’s (EU) 2011 Directive on cross-border patient mobility codifies the right of any EU citizen to travel abroad for treatment and be reimbursed on the same terms as they would be at home. Governments hoped it would end the string of court cases that had reshaped EU health law but this article argues that it is likely to produce yet more judicial challenges. Patient mobility is an attractive idea with unclear definitions and divergent implementation. In many cases, providers, insurers and governments will not communicate and leave the patient with a bill - almost daring the patient to sue, and the courts to make more policy. Governments should try to prevent this by investing in coordination and alternative redress for patients who might otherwise sue.

Concepts: Gross domestic product, United Kingdom, United States, European Parliament, Human rights, Four Freedoms, Citizenship of the European Union, European Union

27

Results of the landmark European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons trial and additional prospective and retrospective studies support the use of intracameral cefuroxime in the prophylaxis of endophthalmitis following cataract surgery. Prophylaxis with intracameral cefuroxime at the recommended dose appears to be well tolerated in patients undergoing cataract surgery. However, off-label use of intracameral cefuroxime usually requires a two-step dilution process with the potential for dilution errors, and there are also concerns regarding the risk of contamination. Aprokam(®) (intracameral cefuroxime) has been approved in the EU for the prophylaxis of postoperative endophthalmitis after cataract surgery. After reconstitution of Aprokam(®), no further dilution is required and each vial is only indicated for single-patient use; this has the potential to reduce the risk of both dilution errors and contamination.

Concepts: Citizenship of the European Union, Off-label use, Europe, Hospital, Physician, Surgery, European Union, Ophthalmology

14

In the European Union (EU), animal welfare is seen as a matter of great importance. However, with respect to animal experimentation, European citizens feel quite uninformed. The European Directive 2010/63/EU for the protection of laboratory animals aims for greater transparency and requires that a comprehensible, nontechnical summary (NTS) of each authorised research project involving animals is published by the respective Member State. However, the NTSs remain sleeping beauties if their contents are not easily and systematically accessible. The German web-based NTS database AnimalTestInfo is a unique channel for scientists to communicate their work, and provides the opportunity for large-scale analyses of planned animal studies to inform researchers and the public. For an in-depth meta-analysis, we classified the duly completed NTSs submitted to AnimalTestInfo in 2014 and 2015 according to the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) system. Indexing the NTSs with ICD codes provided a fine-grained overview of the prospective uses of experimental animals. Using this approach, transparency, especially for highly controversial animal research involving, for example, nonhuman primates, is fostered, as it enables pinpointing the envisaged beneficiary down to the level of the addressed disease. Moreover, research areas with many planned projects involving animals can be specified in detail. The development of 3R (replacement, reduction, and refinement) measures in these research areas may be most efficient, as a large number of experimental animals would benefit from it. Indexing NTSs with ICD codes can support governments and funding agencies in advancing target-oriented funding of 3R research. Data drawn from NTSs can provide a basis for the development, validation, and implementation of directed 3R strategies as well as guidance for rethinking the role of animal research models.

Concepts: Animal rights, Citizenship of the European Union, Research, Medical research, Research methods, In vivo, Animal testing, European Union

14

On 24 November 2015, under the auspices of the European Policy Roundtable on Smoking Cessation, 15 experts on tobacco control and dependence from across the European Union, chaired by Professor Luke Clancy, met in Oslo, Norway, to discuss the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, namely Article 14. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, this paper reports the consensus reached by all Roundtable participants on the need to further advance the availability and access to services to support cessation of tobacco use. The implementation of services to support cessation of tobacco use in line with Article 14 can and should be significantly improved to protect the health of European citizens. The meeting was initiated and funded by Pfizer.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Concepts: Creative Commons, Four Freedoms, Norway, Tobacco, Council of Europe, Citizenship of the European Union, Nicotine, European Union

6

Novel plant genome editing techniques call for an updated legislation regulating the use of plants produced by genetic engineering or genome editing, especially in the European Union. Established more than 25 years ago and based on a clear distinction between transgenic and conventionally bred plants, the current EU Directives fail to accommodate the new continuum between genetic engineering and conventional breeding. Despite the fact that the Directive 2001/18/EC contains both process- and product-related terms, it is commonly interpreted as a strictly process-based legislation. In view of several new emerging techniques which are closer to the conventional breeding than common genetic engineering, we argue that it should be actually interpreted more in relation to the resulting product. A legal guidance on how to define plants produced by exploring novel genome editing techniques in relation to the decade-old legislation is urgently needed, as private companies and public researchers are waiting impatiently with products and projects in the pipeline. We here outline the process in the EU to develop a legislation that properly matches the scientific progress. As the process is facing several hurdles, we also compare with existing frameworks in other countries and discuss ideas for an alternative regulatory system.

Concepts: Estonia, European integration, Legislature, Citizenship of the European Union, Directive, Regulation, European Union

6

The tobacco industry spends large sums lobbying the European Union (EU) institutions, yet whether such lobbying significantly affects tobacco policy is not well understood. We used novel quantitative text mining techniques to evaluate the impact of industry pressure on the contested EU Tobacco Products Directive revision.

Concepts: Italy, Europe, Latvia, Citizenship of the European Union, Bulgaria, Estonia, European integration, European Union

3

This paper identifies a common political struggle behind debates on the validity and permissibility of animal experimentation, through an analysis of two recent European case studies: the Italian implementation of the European Directive 2010/63/EC regulating the use of animals in science, and the recent European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) ‘Stop Vivisection’. Drawing from a historical parallel with Victorian antivivisectionism, we highlight important threads in our case studies that mark the often neglected specificities of debates on animal experimentation. From the representation of the sadistic scientist in the XIX century, to his/her claimed capture by vested interests and evasion of public scrutiny in the contemporary cases, we show that animals are not simply the focus of the debate, but also a privileged locus at which much broader issues are being raised about science, its authority, accountability and potential misalignment with public interest. By highlighting this common socio-political conflict underlying public controversies around animal experimentation, our work prompts the exploration of modes of authority and argumentation that, in establishing the usefulness of animals in science, avoid reenacting the traditional divide between epistemic and political fora.

Concepts: Regulation, Logic, Debate, Scientific method, Science, European Union law, European Union, Citizenship of the European Union

3

Older adults are the fastest growing segment of the world’s population. Recent evidence indicates that excessive sitting time is harmful to health, independent of meeting the recommended moderate to vigorous physical activity (PA) guidelines. The SITLESS project aims to determine whether exercise referral schemes (ERS) can be enhanced by self-management strategies (SMSs) to reduce sedentary behaviour (SB), increase PA and improve health, quality of life and function in the long term, as well as psychosocial outcomes in community-dwelling older European citizens from four countries, within a three-armed pragmatic randomised controlled trial, compared with ERS alone and also with general recommendations about PA.

Concepts: Weight loss, Epidemiology, Term, Time, Overweight, Citizenship of the European Union, Obesity, Randomized controlled trial