MDMA, Automation and Rights to Preserve Biological Diversity | Knowmad Alert N°17


This Week: Use of MDMA in the treatment of eating disorders. The uneven effects of trade and automation on local labor markets. And rights-based conservation to preserve biological diversity.

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Specialized Content Curation | March 16 – 22 | Week 17 

The potential use of MDMA assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of eating disorders comorbid with PTSD.

Eating disorders (ED) remain very difficult to treat despite their extensive study, cases are especially complicated when comorbid with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

This study associates the unique psychopharmacological effects of MDMA, which include:

1) reduced fear
2) increased well-being
3) increased sociability/extroversion
4) reduced self-criticism
5) increased compassion for self/others
6) increased interpersonal confidence
7) alertness of consciousness

To illustrate its potential, the authors describe personal accounts of individuals with PTSD symptoms from ATT who report the benefits of MDMA as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
Although the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy studies cited in this paper provide data on the treatment of PTSD and not ACTs, thus pointing to the importance of formal research to test the effect of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy on ACTs.

Although preliminary data suggest a model of healing that warrants further research in this specific area, cautions should be elaborated in light of the medical and psychiatric issues relevant to some individuals with ACTs, as has been done in other studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

For example, they stress that it is imperative that patients participating in this treatment be medically stable at the time of the study, with no recent restraints or purging in the days prior to the dosing session. Due to the sympathomimetic effects of MDMA, it is also imperative to screen for electrolyte abnormalities or other significant medical conditions, e.g., cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease. Since monoamine reuptake inhibitors, MAOIs and some other psychiatric drugs should be discontinued to avoid drug interactions with MDMA, conditions such as psychosis and bipolar disorder type 1 should be excluded.

The strength of the findings in treatment-refractory PTSD and related comorbidity make it a promising potential treatment modality for PTSD. Although its efficacy in this population remains to be determined, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for patients with PTSD offers a potentially paradigm-shifting treatment for previously treatment-refractory patients.

Click here to read the full paper 1

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Rights-Based Conservation: The Way to Preserve the Earth’s Biological and Cultural Diversity?

The need for urgent action to prevent the collapse of biodiversity across the planet is becoming increasingly evident. This paper is an effort by the authors to compile the solutions proposed by some governments, organizations and conservationists who have put forward proposals to subject 30% and up to 50% of the planet’s land areas to formal “protection and conservation” regimes to address the twin crises of biodiversity and climate change.

However, given that important biodiversity conservation areas often overlap with territories inhabited and claimed by indigenous peoplesi (IPs), local communities (LCs) and Afro-descendants (ADs), the expansion of biodiversity conservation may significantly affect these communities. Indeed, the colonial history of conservation has contributed to a growing list of human rights abuses, displacement and increasingly militarized forms of violence in the pursuit of biodiversity protection. It has been estimated that as many as 136 million people were displaced to formally protect half of the currently protected area (8.5 million km2).

The current draft of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 global biodiversity framework includes a target of safeguarding at least 30 percent of the planet through protected areas and other effective conservation measures (OECMs). So far, however, it does not guarantee that the rights of IPs, LCs and SDs are fully respected and promoted. If conservation actors, governments and IPs, LCs and DPs work together, this new 10-year global framework could actively repair the colonial history of conservation and begin to decolonize conservation through a substantial commitment to community rights-based approaches to conservation. With 190 countries negotiating the UN’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, this is an important opportunity to codify a rights-based approach to conservation.

The paper is based on the imperative to avoid biodiversity collapse while respecting the human and tenure rights of IPs and DPs. It aims to highlight the risks and opportunities for IPs, LCs and DPs arising from the proposed expansion of conservation areas.

Finally the authors provide evidence for rights-based conservation for communities and for the need to forge partnerships between conservation actors and IPs, LCs and DPs to avoid a biodiversity collapse. Ultimately, it aims to inform policy processes at local, national and global levels, including CBD COP-15, scheduled for this year, to provide arguments for an effective, just and sustainable future for biodiversity conservation.

Click here to read the full paper 2

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Unequal Effects of Trade and Automation on Local Labor Markets

This interesting paper quantifies the joint impact of the China shock and labor automation, across U.S. commuting zones. To do so, the authors employed a multi-sector model of trade severity with Roy-Frechet worker heterogeneity across sectors, where labor may “automate.”

Automation and increased import competition from China are sector-specific; they lead to a contraction in a sector’s demand for labor and a decline in the relative earnings of more specialized commuting areas in that sector, amplified by a voluntary reduction in hours worked and an increase in frictional unemployment. The estimated model fits well the aggregate performance of manufacturing subsectors and the variation across commuting zones in changes in average income, hourly wage, hours worked, employment rate and manufacturing employment. For the authors the China shock contributes almost as much as automation to the distributional effect of the combined shock, but its impact on aggregate earnings is less than half the impact of automation.

After transparently estimating the main labor supply elasticizes, the model’s predictions for the calibrated China and automation shocks are consistent with observed labor market outcomes in the commuting zones and with the pattern of value-added growth in the manufacturing subsectors.

This contrasts with the model fit for the individual China or automation shocks, which generate a mismatch in the pattern of manufacturing value-added growth. Moreover, since the China and automation shocks are correlated, the individual shocks underestimate the magnitude of the observed variation in income changes across commuting zones. Overall, the authors’ model provides a more complete understanding of inequality trends of inequality in local labor markets compared to existing quantitative work that focuses on a single shock.

Click here to read the full paper 3

  1. Brewerton, T. D., Lafrance, A., & Mithoefer, M. C. (2021). The potential use of N-methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDMA) assisted psychotherapy in the treatment of eating disorders comorbid with PTSD. Medical Hypotheses, 146, 110367.
  2. (18) (PDF) Rights-Based Conservation: The path to preserving Earth’s biological and cultural diversity? (2020). ResearchGate.\/RG.2.2.17198.95042
  3. (18) (PDF) The Unequal Effects of Trade and Automation across Local Labor Markets. (2021). ResearchGate.\/RG.2.2.24005.99043

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