Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hoist by Their Own Petard

It's rather amusing, really: the Bush administration closely followed the genetically modified organism debate in France and worried that French anxieties would harm US interests. So here was a case where the French refused to believe the assurances of scientists that the GMO in question, manufactured by Monsanto, were harmless. But of course the Bush administration at home did everything it could to undermine the authority of scientists in a number of areas (global warming, stem cell research, etc.).

Now, I happen to think that far too many people in France are far too exercised about a small number of potential harms: GMOs, cell-phone towers, etc. To be sure, caution is always wise, but I also believe that it is possible to be too cautious. Yet if there is to be any fair and reasonable assessment of risks and benefits, some forms of authority must be accredited. And with the American right-wing assiduously undermining scientific authority for ideological reasons and the French eco-fringe just as assiduously attacking scientific authority for different ideological reasons, there are certain to be any number of issues in which the two converge to produce undesirable outcomes. And so we are treated to the comedy revealed by Wikileaks.


Anonymous said...

Another example of governments being bossed around by big business.

I will mention this to an acquaintance who has been for years on an anti-Monsanto crusade. So that's why then keep refusing to properly, at least, correctly label GM food (meat comes with no warning from frankenfood fed animals), althoug the customer, who is supposed to be king, clamours for such labelling.

Mélanie said...

Is it a French eco-fringe or is it "far too many people"?

To distrust the science saying that Monsanto products are harmless, you have to believe big business is behind the science.

To distrust the science about (say) climate change, you have to invent your world, and people it with America hatin' elites with an agenda.

I see the ideology in the later, not the former.

Cincinna said...

Climate change has been happening since the creation of the Earth. The science on what causes these changes is far from unanimous or conclusive. The question is not whether climate change ( formally known by the politically toxic, now un-PC term, "global warming") occurs, but whether it is man made, and can or should be stopped by government, by such ridiculous measures as toxic mercury lightbulbs replacing Thos. Edison's magnificent invention, electric cars, and other such nonsense.
One has to be extremely careful with politicizing science, or waging a political crusade based on "science"
  A tragic example of this is "Silent Spring", by the leftist environmental activist/icon and political alarmist who used pseudo science and alarmist tactics to panic generations into banning the relatively benign pesticide DDT. Rachel Carson, in her "environmental" crusade is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people from Malaria, the mosquito borne disease that was almost extinct before she messed 
with Mother Nature and common sense.