31.10.03

"We risk seeing technologies lose out to prejudice and procrastination"

A Times article highlights the tide of neglect and abuse that is haunting British science.

More than 100 leading scientists have signed an open letter to Tony Blair to save British science from a "backward slide" in the climate for debate over technologies such as genetic modification. The letter is a response to a largely hysterical media response to recent GM farm trials, misreported as spelling doom for the technology and to the way the public debate on GM technology which ran during the summer was allowed to be highjacked by green militants. The scientists accuse the government of having abandoned them on the subject of GM crops where false claims about 'Frankenfoods' and 'superweeds' where left unchallenged, and demand that the Government does not "give way to misguided protesters who stand in the way of medical and economic advance."

Such concerns are shared by those who looks forward to the day when advanced technologies will be able to have a significant impact on the human condition (see ExtroBritannia's submission to the Royal Society's public consultation on nanotechnology). If this is what happens to what is after all a rather trivial technology (GM crops), what is going to happen when "transhumanist technologies" begin to emerge? Are we going to let the anti-progress groups have the upper hand - again?

LINKS:

The Times article: Scientists test Blair and find him wanting

Professor Derek Burke, the lead signatory, on GM crops

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