Reports from Abroad

Like the Royal Society of Canada (RSC), many of the world’s National Science Academies publish expert panel reports to inform policy and investment decisions with critical, science-based analyses. In cases where their reports have relevance to Canadians, we have worked with some of our sister Academies to make their reports available to those on the RSC email list or visitors to the RSC website.

The “Reports from Abroad” series not only links the RSC community to recent reports from other National Academies, but provides a perspective on the relevant topic from a Canadian expert in the field.


Genes in the fast lane: The implications of new gene drive technologyGenes in the fast lane: The implications of new gene drive technology - August 11, 2016

A Canadian Perspective, by Dr. Sally Otto, FRSC, Professor, Department of Zoology, The University of British Columbia

“Gene drive” is not a concept familiar to most Canadians.  Yet it is arguably the genetic technology with more social, ethical, and policy implications than any other to emerge in the last decade. The recent report from the National Academy of Sciences (“Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values”) provides important information about what exactly gene drive is, why it is important, and what risks are associated. Read the full report.


Experiences and Prospects for Genetically Engineered CropsExperiences and Prospects for Genetically Engineered Crops - July 7, 2016

A Canadian Perspective, by Dr. Loren Rieseberg, FRSC, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Plant Evolutionary Genomics at the University of British Columbia

Genetic engineering refers to a suite of techniques that permit direct manipulation of an organism’s genetic make-up. These approaches are useful to agriculture because they offer a means for improving traits that cannot be introduced or modified effectively through conventional breeding. The key discoveries and technological advances that made genetic engineering possible coalesced during the 1970s, and the first genetically-engineered (GE) crop plant was produced in 1982. Commercial production of GE crops began a decade later. Read the full report.


Commercial Motor Vehicles Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health, and Highway Safety: Research NeedsPreventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice - June 28, 2016

A Canadian Perspective, by Dr. Wendy Craig, FRSC, Department of Psychology, Queen's University

Humans are social beings and the capacity to relate to others lays the foundation for adaptation across the lifespan. Bullying is a destructive relationship problem in which power and aggression are used to control and distress others. In Canada and internationally, there is a growing recognition of bullying as a public health issue because of its long-term and detrimental consequences. Canada’s ranking on the international stage dropped over 10 years, suggesting that other countries have been preventing bullying problems more effectively than Canada. The decreasing rates of bullying problems in the US may be linked to the national bullying prevention campaign and investment in research by the US government. Recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conducted a comprehensive review of what is known and what needs to be known to further the field of preventing bullying behavior. Read the full report.


Commercial Motor Vehicles Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health, and Highway Safety: Research NeedsCommercial Motor Vehicles Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health, and Highway Safety: Research Needs - April 4, 2016

A Canadian Perspective, by Dr. Alistair MacLean, Department of Psychology, Queen's University

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that, in the absence of effective action, road traffic injuries will become the fifth leading cause of death in the world and the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2011 to 2020 a Decade of Action for road safety. This report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine is timely, not only for the shared general concern about the pain and emotional trauma resulting from vehicular crashes, but also because of its specific relevance to Canadian concerns. Read the full report.


Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social and Policy ConsiderationsMitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social and Policy Considerations - March 1, 2016

A Canadian Perspective, by Dr. Françoise Baylis, FRSC, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Bioethics and Philosophy, Dalhousie University

On February 3, 2016, the United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released its long awaited report, “Mitochondrial Replacement Techniques: Ethical, Social and Policy Considerations”. The committee included among its members, Jonathan Kimmelman, Associate Professor in Biomedical Ethics at McGill University. The technology that is the focus of this report involves the transfer of nuclear DNA from an unfertilized or a fertilized egg with dysfunctional mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) into a fertilized or unfertilized egg that has healthy mtDNA and has had its nuclear DNA (nDNA) removed. Read the full report.


Characterization, Modeling, Monitoring and Remediation of Fractured RockCharacterization, Modeling, Monitoring and Remediation of Fractured Rock - September 23, 2015

A Canadian Perspective, by Dr. Leslie Smith, FRSC, Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, The University of British Columbia

There are innumerable sites in Canada where the migration of contaminants through the subsurface is controlled by the occurrence of open fractures in bedrock. The characterization of groundwater flow through fractured rock, the analysis of solute transport along connected fracture pathways and contaminant transfer between fractures and the adjacent intact rock is inherently difficult, posing many challenges. Read the full report.


Assessment of Technologies for Improving Fuel Economy of Light-Duty Vehicles

Cost, Effectiveness and Deployment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles - June 18, 2015

A Canadian Perspective, by Dr. Peter Frise, University of Windsor, Scientific Director and CEO of the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence

Concerns about greenhouse gas (GHG) production and global warming, depletion of non-renewable resources and energy security have propelled a huge effort to reduce the fuel consumption of vehicles.  Because the vehicle market is globally integrated, this effort is embodied in government mandates to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and resulting reductions in fuel consumption in virtually every industrialised nation (see Figure 1). Read the full report.


Resilience to Extreme WeatherResillience to Extreme Weather - November 27, 2014

A Canadian Perspective, by Professor Gordon McBean, FRSC, Western University and President, International Council for Science

Extreme weather is becoming more prevalent in Canada. In June 2013, heavy rainfall triggered catastrophic flooding in and around Calgary with huge social and economic costs. The following month, a flash flood hit Toronto and together, the economic costs have exceeded $7 billion. Read the full report.