The week started with a joint Manchester-Brazil meeting on bioenergy and industrial biotechnology, where I learnt in particular about an enormous metagenomics programme at the Brazilian Centre for Bioethanol Science and Technology. Other Agriculture-related meetings included one with Mary Creagh, the Shadow Environment Secretary and one hosted at the Royal Society for the Governing Board of the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI).

I spoke at a meeting (pdf) of the Foundation for Science and Technology on the RCUK implementation of Open Access publishing based on the Finch report (Dame Janet Finch was one of the other speakers). With great timeliness, RCUK had earlier that day published its updated Open Access guidance, on which comments are being sought until March 20th. I also contributed to a video that BioMed Central are putting together on Open Access (a link will be given anon).

I attended two external leaving parties, one for Sir Roland Jackson who was finishing at the British Science Association and one for Imran Khan who is leaving the Campaign for Science and Engineering to replace him. We also had the first of a number of events to mark the retirement of Peter Swinburne from BBSRC.

Press releases included one on the human metabolic network reconstruction that I trailed last week, and one – that attracted considerable media coverage – on our fast-tracked funding for studies of ash dieback.

Papers I enjoyed included one on a metabolomic signature of ageing in mice, while there was also a well-publicised article on the negative health effects of eating ‘processed’ meat in quantity; for me the suspicion falls on iron liberated from haem. I also came upon a very interesting (2011) paper on bioactive natural products taxonomy.

Finally, I enjoyed and would recommend a succinct blog summary by Sang Yup Lee on “How could biotechnology improve your life?” – in quite a number of ways.

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