This Week in Science (May 15 – 22)

May 22, 2016

You want to have a reference point of where to find the best recent scientific and technological breakthroughs? Here they are, in the weekly science compilations. Share them with friends and family, online or in real life. Enjoy!

Check out this week’s edition:

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3 comments on “This Week in Science (May 15 – 22)

  • Perhaps a really significant move in promoting human health is happening to reduce the effects of long-standing anti-science anti-health activities for profit!
    Perhaps it is long overdue for health insurance premiums NOT to be invested in tobacco companies!
    Axa, one of the world’s biggest insurers, will stop investing in the tobacco industry and sell investments worth more than €1.7bn (£1.3bn).

    It said investing in the sector made no sense given that smoking killed some six million people a year.

    The move by Axa is an attempt to support government efforts to reduce the number of people who smoke.

    Tobacco companies last week lost a High Court challenge to plain packaging for cigarettes sold in the UK.

    A major health insurer, Axa said its role was increasingly about prevention rather than cure.

    Its announcement coincides with the annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, where World Health Organization member nations meet to discuss global public health policy.

    The Axa Group, which manages assets worth €1.36 trillion, will sell its €184m of shares in tobacco companies, and tobacco industry bond holdings that are valued at almost €1.6bn.

    However, that accounts for just 0.6% of its corporate bond holdings.
    Analysis: Hugh Pym, health editor

    Some ethical investment funds have shunned tobacco shares for some time now. The big US pension fund Calpers decided more than a decade ago not to buy shares in tobacco companies, but Axa seems to be the first major European institutional investment fund to pull out of the sector.

    Selling €1.7bn of shares and bonds will be a significant disposal. Cynics might say it is a good time to sell following a sustained rise for tobacco shares. Yet Axa is clear that, as a health insurer, holding tobacco investments is no longer justifiable.

    With two tobacco companies – British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands – in the FTSE 100, many private investors will be indirect holders through tracker funds. The question now is whether other shareholders, large or small, will follow Axa’s lead.

    Insurers and pension funds investing money from on behalf of the public, really need to get their act together on ethical investment!
    Divestment in CO2 polluters would also be welcome!

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