From today's UK papers

March 18, 2002

University teaching to be rated by students
Students are to be given a voice for the first time in official judgements of university course teaching standards. Months of wrangling, which saw the resignation of John Randall, the most senior regulator of higher education standards, have ended in agreement on an accreditation system for higher education "institutional audit". (Times, Financial Times)

Geneticists protest at DNA rice deal
Twenty leading geneticists are protesting against a deal that will allow a multinational company to control who has access to the complete DNA sequence of the rice genome - the most important food crop in the developing world. The scientists, who include British Nobel laureates Sir Paul Nurse and Sir Aaron Klug, are up in arms against a plan to lock away the rice sequence on a company database rather than having it published in open scientific literature. (Independent)

Fish clue to human fertility decline
The steady drop in male fertility in Britain could be caused by men ingesting female hormones in drinking water drawn from rivers containing recycled sewage, according to government researchers. Extensive work for the Environment Agency shows that in some rivers from which drinking water is taken, all the male fish of some species have become feminised. (Guardian)

Birth defects up by 50% over five years
The number of babies born with malformations has soared by as much as 50 per cent in five years, research conducted for the Birth Defects Foundation has revealed. Some 48,000 families are affected each year, with 3,000 birth defects being displayed. (Independent, Guardian, Times)

DNA plays key role in determining IQ
Parents should not blame schools for their children's poor academic performance because genetics play a significant role in determining a child's intelligence. Research at the Institute of Psychiatry has found that at the age of seven the ability of children to do well in English and maths is strongly linked to genetic make up. (Daily Telegraph)

Staff should sleep on the job
Taking an afternoon nap at the desk dramatically improves workers' performance, according to research by Nasa. Bosses should welcome the sight of staff slumped over their keyboards because when they wake up their performance will increase by 35 per cent and their ability to judge the right business decisions by 50 per cent, the space research agency claims. (Times)

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