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Topic: Science is the Answer
Science is the answer
There has, until recently, been a utopian belief in the benefits that science can bring. Scientists often claim that their insights are objective and can provide answers to real problems, but it was only in the twentieth century that their achievements matched their ambitions. During the Second World War scientists and engineers mobilised on an unprecedented scale, researching, developing and using technologies only dreamed of a few years earlier. On the back of this wave of technical progress, the reputations of scientists and engineers rode high and grateful governments rewarded them with generous funding for research and new facilities. Governments – and the general public – were encouraged to believe that many more benefits would flow if scientific research continued to flourish. But as science transformed daily life, people began to realise its limitations and started to question decisions made on the basis of scientific methods. Now governments find that people are no longer willing to accept ‘scientific’ answers to policy issues. To illustrate how public opinion can affect scientifically based government policy, we look at three examples: nuclear power, foot and mouth disease, and genetically modified food.
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Topic section: The peaceful atom
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The quality of our air, water and food matters to us, and we all want to do our bit to save the planet. We can all try to do the little things, but our efforts will only be worthwhile if the proper economic, technological and political systems are in place.  > more

Topic section: Foot and mouth disease
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The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of 2001 raised questions of science versus compensation culture. Would vaccination favoured by scientists be acceptable to farmers worried about public resistance to eating vaccinated meat?  > more

Topic section: GM – to modify or not to modify?
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Genetic modification (GM) technology is good for suppliers. But what benefits are there for consumers? Until these are clearly established, the public is not going to buy GM food.  > more
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