SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: International trade

196

As successful malaria control programmes re-orientate towards elimination, the identification of transmission foci, targeting of attack measures to high-risk areas and management of importation risk become high priorities. When resources are limited and transmission is varying seasonally, approaches that can rapidly prioritize areas for surveillance and control can be valuable, and the most appropriate attack measure for a particular location is likely to differ depending on whether it exports or imports malaria infections.Methods/Results: Here, using the example of Namibia, a method for targeting of interventions using surveillance data, satellite imagery, and mobile phone call records to support elimination planning is described. One year of aggregated movement patterns for over a million people across Namibia are analyzed, and linked with case-based risk maps built on satellite imagery. By combining case-data and movement, the way human population movements connect transmission risk areas is demonstrated. Communities that were strongly connected by relatively higher levels of movement were then identified, and net export and import of travellers and infection risks by region were quantified. These maps can aid the design of targeted interventions to maximally reduce the number of cases exported to other regions while employing appropriate interventions to manage risk in places that import them.

Concepts: Google Maps, Integral, Risk management, Mobile phone, Import, International trade, Export

192

International trade deals once focused primarily on tariffs. As a result, they had little direct effect on health, and health experts could reasonably leave their details to trade professionals. Not so today. Modern trade pacts have implications for a wide range of health policy issues, from medicine prices to tobacco regulation, not only in the developing world but also in the United States. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a case in point. A massive trade deal now reportedly on the verge of completion, the TPP has nearly 30 chapters. A draft chapter on intellectual property (IP) alone runs 77 . . .

Concepts: Massachusetts, Universal health care, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, English language, European Union, Medicine, International trade, United States

176

Alien insects are increasingly being dispersed around the world through international trade, causing a multitude of negative environmental impacts and billions of dollars in economic losses annually. Border controls form the last line of defense against invasions, whereby inspectors aim to intercept and stop consignments that are contaminated with harmful alien insects. In Europe, member states depend on one another to prevent insect introductions by operating a first point of entry rule - controlling goods only when they initially enter the continent. However, ensuring consistency between border control points is difficult because there exists no optimal inspection strategy. For the first time, we developed a method to quantify the volume of agricultural trade that should be inspected for quarantine insects at border control points in Europe, based on global agricultural trade of over 100 million distinct origin-commodity-species-destination pathways. This metric was then used to evaluate the performance of existing border controls, as measured by border interception results in Europe between 2003 and 2007. Alarmingly, we found significant gaps between the trade pathways that should be inspected and actual number of interceptions. Moreover, many of the most likely introduction pathways yielded none or very few insect interceptions, because regular interceptions are only made on only a narrow range of pathways. European countries with gaps in border controls have been invaded by higher numbers of quarantine alien insect species, indicating the importance of proper inspections to prevent insect invasions. Equipped with an optimal inspection strategy based on the underlying risks of trade, authorities globally will be able to implement more effective and consistent border controls.

Concepts: International trade, Border, Border control, United Kingdom, Insect, Globalization, Europe

169

BACKGROUND: A standard graphical notation is essential to facilitate exchange of network representations of biologicalprocesses. Towards this end, the Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) has been proposed, and it isalready supported by a number of tools. However, support for SBGN in Cytoscape, one of the most widelyused platforms in biology to visualise and analyse networks, is limited, and in particular it is not possible toimport SBGN diagrams. RESULTS: We have developed CySBGN, a Cytoscape plug-in that extends the use of Cytoscape visualisation and analysisfeatures to SBGN maps. CySBGN adds support for Cytoscape users to visualize any of the threecomplementary SBGN languages: Process Description, Entity Relationship, and Activity Flow. Theinteroperability with other tools (CySBML plug-in and Systems Biology Format Converter) was alsoestablished allowing an automated generation of SBGN diagrams based on previously imported SBMLmodels. The plug-in was tested using a suite of 53 different test cases that covers almost all possible entities,shapes, and connections. A rendering comparison with other tools that support SBGN was performed. Toillustrate the interoperability with other Cytoscape functionalities, we present two analysis examples, shortestpath calculation, and motif identification in a metabolic network. CONCLUSIONS: CySBGN imports, modifies and analyzes SBGN diagrams in Cytoscape, and thus allows the application of thelarge palette of tools and plug-ins in this platform to networks and pathways in SBGN format.

Concepts: Metabolism, Notation, Systems Biology Graphical Notation, International trade, Flowchart, Metabolic network modelling, Entity-relationship model, Systems biology

163

Free trade agreements (FTAs) can affect food environments and non-communicable disease risks through altering the availability of highly-processed foods. Few studies have quantified such effects. Using a natural experiment this paper quantifies changes in Peru’s soft-drink market before/after entry into the US-Peru FTA, compared with Bolivia, a county with no such agreement.

Concepts: International trade, Trade, Market, Economics, Food

144

Scientists are increasingly dissatisfied with funding systems that rely on peer assessment and, accordingly, have suggested several proposals for reform. One of these proposals is to distribute available funds equally among all qualified researchers, with no interference from peer review. Despite its numerous benefits, such egalitarian sharing faces the objection, among others, that it would lead to an unacceptable dilution of resources. The aim of the present paper is to assess this particular objection. We estimate (for the Netherlands, the U.S. and the U.K.) how much researchers would receive were they to get an equal share of the government budgets that are currently allocated through competitive peer assessment. For the Netherlands, we furthermore estimate what researchers would receive were we to differentiate between researchers working in low-cost, intermediate-cost and high-cost disciplines. Given these estimates, we then determine what researchers could afford in terms of PhD students, Postdocs, travel and equipment. According to our results, researchers could, on average, maintain current PhD student and Postdoc employment levels, and still have at their disposal a moderate (the U.K.) to considerable (the Netherlands, U.S.) budget for travel and equipment. This suggests that the worry that egalitarian sharing leads to unacceptable dilution of resources is unjustified. Indeed, our results strongly suggest that there is room for far more egalitarian distribution of funds than happens in the highly competitive funding schemes so prevalent today.

Concepts: Netherlands, Funding, European Union, International trade, Distribution, PhD, Research funding, Research

113

Metrics on resource productivity currently used by governments suggest that some developed countries have increased the use of natural resources at a slower rate than economic growth (relative decoupling) or have even managed to use fewer resources over time (absolute decoupling). Using the material footprint (MF), a consumption-based indicator of resource use, we find the contrary: Achievements in decoupling in advanced economies are smaller than reported or even nonexistent. We present a time series analysis of the MF of 186 countries and identify material flows associated with global production and consumption networks in unprecedented specificity. By calculating raw material equivalents of international trade, we demonstrate that countries' use of nondomestic resources is, on average, about threefold larger than the physical quantity of traded goods. As wealth grows, countries tend to reduce their domestic portion of materials extraction through international trade, whereas the overall mass of material consumption generally increases. With every 10% increase in gross domestic product, the average national MF increases by 6%. Our findings call into question the sole use of current resource productivity indicators in policy making and suggest the necessity of an additional focus on consumption-based accounting for natural resource use.

Concepts: Developed country, Trade, Natural resources, International trade, Economic growth, Natural resource, Economics, Resource

80

Critics of free trade agreements have argued that they threaten public health, as they eliminate barriers to trade in potentially harmful products, such as sugar. Here we analyze the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), testing the hypothesis that lowering tariffs on food and beverage syrups that contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) increased its use in foods consumed in Canada.

Concepts: Syrup, United States, Trade bloc, Free trade, Maize, Corn syrup, International trade, North American Free Trade Agreement

54

Approval for glyphosate-based herbicides in the European Union (EU) is under intense debate due to concern about their effects on the environment and human health. The occurrence of glyphosate residues in European water bodies is rather well documented whereas only few, fragmented and outdated information is available for European soils. We provide the first large-scale assessment of distribution (occurrence and concentrations) of glyphosate and its main metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in EU agricultural topsoils, and estimate their potential spreading by wind and water erosion. Glyphosate and/or AMPA were present in 45% of the topsoils collected, originating from eleven countries and six crop systems, with a maximum concentration of 2mgkg(-1). Several glyphosate and AMPA hotspots were identified across the EU. Soil loss rates (obtained from recently derived European maps) were used to estimate the potential export of glyphosate and AMPA by wind and water erosion. The estimated exports, result of a conceptually simple model, clearly indicate that particulate transport can contribute to human and environmental exposure to herbicide residues. Residue threshold values in soils are urgently needed to define potential risks for soil health and off site effects related to export by wind and water erosion.

Concepts: Latvia, Sweden, Europe, Estonia, European integration, Surface runoff, International trade, European Union

52

Wildlife trade is a major pathway for introduction of invasive species worldwide. However, how exactly wildlife trade influences invasion risk, beyond the transportation of individuals to novel areas, remains unknown. We analyze the global trade network of wild-caught birds from 1995 to 2011 as reported by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). We found that before the European Union ban on imports of wild-caught birds, declared in 2005, invasion risk was closely associated with numbers of imported birds, diversity of import sources, and degree of network centrality of importer countries. After the ban, fluxes of global bird trade declined sharply. However, new trade routes emerged, primarily toward the Nearctic, Afrotropical, and Indo-Malay regions. Although regional bans can curtail invasion risk globally, to be fully effective and prevent rerouting of trade flows, bans should be global.

Concepts: Conservation biology, Transport, Trade, World Trade Organization, European Union, Export, Globalization, International trade