After watching Michael Specter’s TED talk from February, I’m motived to change public opinion in America on science more than ever. Specter, the writer for New Yorker and author of Denialism, talked about how public perception is slowing progress on genetically engineered food and vaccinations. Here’s the description:
“Vaccine-autism claims, ‘Frankenfood’ bans, the herbal cure craze: All point to the public’s growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason, says Michael Specter. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress.”
Biotechnology will be the path to a better tomorrow if the science behind genetically engineered and modified food continues to improve. One of the largest international economic and political issues of today is food shortages. They effect the world’s poorest people and are costly to for foreign nations and companies to aid. The most beneficial use of genetically engineered foods is feeding the one-two million people who go to bed hungry every day. Scientists are able to increase the amount of vitamins and even add other nutrients to food that is already accessible in third world countries, preventing diseases and increasing the life expectancy. (See GlobalIssues.Org for more information of GE and GM.)
Sounds great right? While the science is great, the wholesale-politics side of the practice has room to improve. As Specter puts it, patent issues aren’t science. Science denailism is running rampant in America, and unfortunately, our distrust for big government has allowed science to become a polarizing topic of debate. Michael Specter describes the status quo in Denialism:
“For centuries, the general view had been that science is neither good nor bad-that it merely supplies information and that new information is always beneficial. Now, science is viewed as a political constituency that isn’t always in our best interest. We live in a world where the leaders of African nations prefer to let their citizens starve to death rather than import genetically modified grains. Childhood vaccines have proven to be the most effective public health measure in history, yet people march on Washington to protest their use. In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and “natural” cures have almost no value, and often cause harm.”
It is not our best interest to treat science as a political issue. There are not facts that are better than other facts. Also, genetically engineered foods are not the antithesis to organic foods, we can have both and it is not our place to roadblock the development of a technological advancement that can supply healthy food to billions of people. Today there is anxiety over food and displaced fear. Why are politicians addressing the chemicals in our salad bowls before improving those in our KFC bowl? American politicians are making the wrong decisions because the populous is largely and oddly anti-science. As Michael Specter said at TED, you can have your own beliefs but you can’t have your own facts.
Get on board people.