As an adjunct to my previous post, Science today reports on a new report from the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies (The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States) which seems to conclude that biotech crops are good for farmers and the environment, with the usual caveats and uncertainties of course.
So fourteen years after the press and environmental groups declared GMOs to be bad, we now find that they are, in general, quite good in both environmental and economic terms. It’s a reasonable time lag, and I think we’ll see something similar for nanotech, synthetic biology and most other emerging technologies. However the meme that GMO’s are bad is so well entrenched that it may take another ten years and a lot more science to reverse it.
And this gets to the nub of the issue between science and society. Any anti technology movement, from smashing up Spinning Jennies to ripping up GMO crops or disrupting nanotechnology meetings takes as long for scientific evidence to overcome as it does to win the peace in the Malay Peninsula or Iraq.
In the meantime, how many people have to die from preventable diseases such as vitamin deficiencies or malnutrition that science could have cured?