Crises show importance of government science

Recent crises highlight the importance of government science

The role of scientific advice in government must go to the very heart of ministerial thinking about civil service efficiency and reform, and two recent examples illustrate why, Prospect head of research Sue Ferns said yesterday.

In a blog for Guardian Professional she said: "There's nothing like a crisis to make ministers recognise the value of scientific advice. Ash dieback disease is just such a crisis, but it is not the first and it certainly won't be the last. Plant and animal disease outbreaks pose a constant threat, as do a range of natural hazards, some linked to climate change."

Ferns pointed out:

  • the ash dieback crisis has shown that cuts in funding for research, monitoring and surveillance of plant disease have been too deep and that work of this kind cannot simply be turned on and off like a tap
  • the recent conviction of Italian seismologists for their role in advising on the L'Aquila earthquake has shown the importance of greater clarity on the boundaries between advice and decision making.

Read the full blog here.

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