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factsheets

When a new topic in science hits the news, it can be frustrating for journalists when they don’t have access to all the relevant facts. The SMC’s factsheets give brief, digestible summaries on new areas of emerging science when issues that have had little media attention are suddenly in the spotlight. Often factsheets come as a supplement to a briefing or roundup the SMC has put together, and have included topics like the chemical bisphenol-A, emerging livestock diseases, shale gas extraction and ‘legal’ highs. Designed to be an overview rather than a comprehensive account of a topic, factsheets are also a pointer towards sources of authoritative scientific information.

While SMC factsheets tend to go into detail on a narrow topic, we also produce ‘briefing notes’ on broader subject areas like climate change, stem cells or animal research. These briefing notes are written for broadcasters and non-specialists, giving a rapidly digestible summary of controversial topics.

see briefing notes

 

 

schizophrenia

This factsheet is also available as a pdf.   Definition Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterised by disturbances in thinking … read more

depression

Key information about the symptoms, causes, prevalence and treatment of depression. read more

phenylbutazone (bute) and horsemeat

This Factsheet accompanied a Briefing with a number of food science and equine experts, who came to talk about the scientific aspects of the horsemeat scandal, including issues around food safety, traceability, toxicology and DNA testing. read more

badger cull

Bovine TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which can also infect and cause TB in badgers, deer and other mammals. The government recently proposed a cull of badgers in two areas in England, Gloucestershire and West Somerset, in attempt to control the impact of bovine TB. read more

Schmallenberg virus

Schmallenberg virus arrived in the UK in autumn 2011 and during spring and summer 2012 resulted in deformities of lambs and calves born in the south and east of England. read more

GM field trials in the UK and Europe

The first trials of transgenic crops featured herbicide resistance in tobacco in France and USA. The first field trial of GE grapes (Vitis vinifera) took place in the northern Alsace region of France in 2005. And more recently field trials of GM potatoes and wheat have begun in the UK. read more

mitochondrial DNA

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.   Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is DNA contained in the mitochondria in our … read more

shale gas and fracking

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.   Shale gas deposits -          Shale is a soft, finely-grained sedimentary rock made … read more

nuclear reactors

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.     Key components of a nuclear reactor Fuel – usually uranium-based … read more

radiation exposure

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.   Two types of radiation: Ionizing – of sufficiently high energy to ionize … read more

bisphenol A

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical compound that is used in the industrial production of plastics; it’s one of the world’s most widely used industrial compounds. BPA is primarily used in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. read more

oil spills

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.   General information Offshore oil spills at sea generally take the form of … read more

MMR timeline

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.     1988 – MMR introduced in UK, for the first time … read more

synthetic biology

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.   What is synthetic biology? The creation or modification of living biological systems … read more

BCG vaccine

BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) is a vaccine for tuberculosis. It contains a live but attenuated form of Mycobacterium bovis. BCG was first used in humans in 1921. read more

PFOA/PFOS

You can download this factsheet as a PDF.     General information Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluoroctane sulphonate (PFOS) are two … read more

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