At 11:40 AM 2/19/98 +0000, you wrote:
>Greetings from Ireland.
>The following letter appears in todays Irish Times. The author, Profesor
>Tom Raftery, is one of those scientists who believe that if you don't
>welcome all scientific breakthroughs with unquestioning optimism you are a
>Professor Rafterys favourite tactic when writing to newspapers is to
>dismiss environmentalists, sust-ag practitioners and others who disagree
>with his "progressive" point of view as luddites and anti-scientific. He is
>great on dismissive rhetoric, but short on facts to back up his position.
Others will have more substantive responses, but your note came just a few
days after i saw a wildly popular film, "Titanic." For me, the Titanic
served as a powerful metaphor for sloppy application of science/technology
in the interest of making a buck (or a pound)...unfortunately, effects of
careless use of chemical and biological technologies are at once much more
widespread and much less clear.
If you have access to the American Journal, SCIENCE, the current issue
(approx Feb 18), has 3 items directly relevant to your letter:
1. A nice essay by a German biologist reminding us of the 30 year old
warning (by a group of biomedical scientists) about the effects of routine
feeding of antibiotics to livestock.
2. An article by ecologists explaining evidence & some consequences of
global nitrification of ecosystems.
3. A letter to the editor from someone in the Genetics Dept at the U. of
Wisconsin (Madison) reacting to an article by a Swiss scientist who had used
rhetoric similar (but more informed) to Raferty's. The writer of the letter
is presumably a faculty member, in which case he has strong credentials
(good dept at a good school). The letter is well written and thoughtful.
Example of a scientist saying "...not so fast!"
SCIENCE is the journal of the American Assoc. for the Advancement of
Science--very much the mainstream.
Keep Rafterys' feet to the fire!
Dept of Ag and Resource Econ
B-311 Clark Blg
Colorado State University
Ft Collins, CO 80523
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