How Iceland radically cut teenage drug use

❝ Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”…

❝ In 1991, Milkman was invited to Iceland to talk about this work, his findings and ideas. He became a consultant to the first residential drug treatment centre for adolescents in Iceland, in a town called Tindar. “It was designed around the idea of giving kids better things to do,” he explains. It was here that he met Gudberg, who was then a psychology undergraduate and a volunteer at Tindar. They have been close friends ever since…

Milkman started coming regularly to Iceland and giving talks. These talks, and Tindar, attracted the attention of a young researcher at the University of Iceland, called Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir. She wondered: what if you could use healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol as part of a programme not to treat kids with problems, but to stop kids drinking or taking drugs in the first place?

A useful read. Could be a guide to programs in many countries including the GOUSA. Not that I’m optimistic about any science and reason-based programs getting anywhere – here – in the near future. But, this sounds worthwhile and adaptable to local and regional priorities.

Pentagon ready to bioengineer insects for peaceful projects — that’s all [they say]


❝ The Pentagon is studying whether insects can be enlisted to combat crop loss during agricultural emergencies…The bugs would carry genetically engineered viruses that could be deployed rapidly if critical crops such as corn or wheat became vulnerable to a drought, a natural blight or a sudden attack by a biological weapon.

❝ The concept envisions the viruses making genetic modifications that protect the plants immediately, during a single growing season…But some critics find the whole thing creepy.

A team of skeptical scientists and legal scholars published an article in the journal Science…arguing that the…program opens a “Pandora’s box” and involves technology that “may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery”…”The DARPA program is easily weaponized”.

As a signatory to the multilateral Biological Weapons Convention we joined the most global of treaties banning biological weapons. I realize that doesn’t mean a whole boatload in the era of Trumplicans. Aside from the automatic antagonisms between the Pentagon and those scientists who have chosen a path to aid nations and human beings which doesn’t include offensive weapons — the BWC seems the best vehicle to require political and fiscal transparency on the question. This needn’t interfere with legitimate research and prototyping.

Of course, I worry about rogue governments ready to turn their backs on existing treaties and international agreements of ANY kind if they think it will advance their ideology and maybe line a few pockets along the way. So, yes, we have to keep on eye on where this Pentagon research leads. A fight that may be easier to construct after the coming mid-term election…and 2020.

Frankly, like many already concerned about dangerous if not apocalyptic abuses of CRISPR – I think folks need to spend more time worrying about what gets produced on an experimental basis in the garage of some populist nutter. This truly doesn’t cost as much as rocket science.