Re: Question for discussion
Ronald Nigh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mon, 23 Dec 1996 17:36:02 -0600
At 12:52 PM 23/12/96 EST, you wrote:
>A question has occurred to me that I thought might stimulate some interesting
>If definitive evidence is developed showing that the genetically engineered
>crops now available have absolutely no adverse consequences on human health,
>would this be good or bad news?
Unfortunately, science, as we know it, is not able to prove a non-effect.
Health effects of this kind are studied statistically, in terms of risk,
etc. If we have not detected an effect in the past we have no way of
estimating its probability. To say "There is no scientific evidence to
indicate adverse consequences on human health of X" is just another way of
saying that science has nothing to say about the subject and that the
opinions of scientists about the matter have the same value (or lack of
value) as anyone else's opinion. It does not mean, as many people assume
(and industry tries to imply) that science has "proved" that there are no
adverse consequences. Such a proof is impossible.
The questions continue to be: are we willing to risk the possible but
unknown adverse consequences of GMO in the environment? Are we ready to
trust Monsanto et al. when they say that their scientists have "proved" that
there is no risk? Perhaps another way of phrasing the question you are
getting at is what would we accept as a demonstration that such risks are
acceptable? Or that they are not? These are not easy questions to answer
and seem to refer beyond themselves to questions of values, i.e. beyond the
realm of scientific "proof."
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