Science & Tech Round-Up: Home truths across the Atlantic - The Post

Science & Tech Round-Up: Home truths across the Atlantic

US academic disapproves of low-age Danish alcohol limits, while the environment minister has been lecturing Chicago on its need for a public water infrastructure overhaul

No, you have not been drinking too much, children, Dr Nora Volkow’s brain really is multi-coloured (photo: NIDA (NIH)/Flickr)
September 24th, 2019 7:00 pm| by Ben Hamilton

It is baffling to many Danes that children aged 17 can join the US army and kill for their country, but not be allowed to drink a beer until they are 21.

But now Dr Nora Volkow, an esteemed US neuropsychiatrist and expert on alcohol research, has turned the tables on Denmark for allowing children aged 16 to drink beverages providing they do not have an alcohol percentage of over 16.5 percent.

“I’m shocked to hear that 16-year-olds can buy alcohol in Denmark,” the head of the US National Drug Abuse Research Center said at a symposium recently organised by Novavi in Copenhagen.

“The brain has not fully developed at that age.”

Novavi produces treatments for alcohol and drug addictions.

US water set-up needs shake-up
Meanwhile, Lea Wermelin, the environment minister, has been at the WEFTEC Fair in Chicago promoting Denmark’s effective water tech solutions in light of the poor quality of the public supply in the US.

The US Environmental Protection Agency concedes that it needs investment of 4.6 trillion kroner over the next eleven years in its public water infrastructure.

Danish companies such as Grundfos are understandably eyeing the market with interest, and all eyes were on the minister on Saturday as she spoke at WEFTEC, which is one of the world’s largest water technology fairs.

“We have some amazingly talented companies in Denmark that can ensure clean and safe water and do it as efficiently as possible, so that we do not waste water or energy along the way,” enthused Wermelin.

So come on America, in our best Danglish: ‘Wat er’ you waiting for.


High returns for medicinal cannabis producers: from stock not pot
Anne and Stig Gamborg, the founders of Møllerup Estate, a Danish company that grows cannabis for medicinal use, together with their chief executive Lars Allan Thomassen have hit the jackpot by investing in a Canadian rival, reports Børsen. The trio invested 33 million kroner in shares in Canadian Canopy Growth in August 2017 and then watched as the price climbed from 9 to 68 cents to yield a return of 252 million kroner. Although the price then rose as high as 73, it has since fallen to 33, so the trio are “satisfied” they sold at the right time. Thomassen told the newspaper he did not want to get caught out by another dot.com bubble.

Stock injection: Novo shares soar on the back of diabetes pill approval
Shares in Novo Nordisk have risen to their highest level in three years following the approval of its Rybelsus diabetes pill. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that the benefits – an effective control of blood sugar, a possible loss of weight and foregoing the need for injections – outweighed the drawbacks, such as the increased risk of developing thyroid cancer and pancreatitis. However, the  FDA does not recommend Rybelsus as its preferred treatment for diabetes.

How cannabis could precipitate the munchies in exactly the wrong place
Professor Niels Skakkebæk, the Danish co-author of a study into why smoking cannabis can lower a man’s sperm count, warns that the drug should not be legalised until we know more, reports videnskab.dk. His study suggests that cannabis can potentially disrupt the equilibrium of the testicles – specifically the endocannabinoid system, which can be found in most organs, including the brain. For a long time it has generally been believed that smoking cannabis decreases sperm quality, but now researchers believe it could affect formation – not just the sperm cells after they have been created.