GCSA at 50: reflections of the past, present and future of scientific advice. By Andrew Howard

Solly Zuckerman, left, overlooks PM Wilson’s briefing on the effects of pesticides on peregrines.

On Tuesday, Remembrance Day, the Royal Society hosted an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Government Chief Scientific Advisor (GCSA). Discussions were held across two panels with a total of 5 men that have held the role – including the incumbent Mark Walport – concerning the history and fate of scientific advice. This took place markedly just 24 hours before the role of scientific advice in policy-making suffered a serious knock-back, as it emerged Anne Glover’s current position as the European Commission’s CSA was being scrapped. Nonetheless, at the end of 50 years of scientific advice in the UK, the future role of the GCSA looked to be promising from the anniversary’s proceedings. Continue reading


Evidence and Policymaking by Oliver Summers

With evidence in drug policy expanding the divide between the coalition parties, and being cited in the resignation letter of Home Office Minister Norman Baker. What is ‘evidence based policy’ and is it worth resigning over?

Evidence based policymaking (EBPM), is an extension of the evidence based medicine ideal into public policy. Evidence is obtained via quantitative research, usually through Randomised Control Trials (RCTs). In an RCT on a new policy intervention, the policy is compared with no intervention, or an existing policy. In this way it is possible to determine statistically if the new intervention works; or works better than the currently used actions.

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