2 TOPICS Ethics Discussion

One way to read the Stone article is as a plea for paying attention to details, and learning how not to take extreme language at face value, no matter where it comes from. Borlaug and Rossett are exactly the sorts of articles that Stone has in mind in his critique, too. How does an argument like Stone’s affect your view on whether or not we should have GMO food? Would you modify the view you expressed in the Borlaug and Rossett discussion in light of Stone’s paper? If so, how (and why to you find him persuasive)? If not, why do you not find him persuasive? Alternately, to what extent is Stone making a point about the intersection of science and public debate? Is this a good point, and if so, how might we attend to it in other contexts? How might we do better on questions of science and public policy? You obviously don’t want to try to tackle all of this in one post, but the idea is to think about the importance of science to public policy, and the ways scientific work is used in policy discussions.


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Recall that one of the arguments against introducing GMO foods is the “precautionary principle” – that it’s ok to insist that we prove a new technology to be safe before introducing it, rather than simply not having found any evidence of danger. This also was a substantial part of the Bedau and Triant. The discussion topic for the week is: should we adopt some sort of precautionary principle as a society? If so, how would you formulate it to avoid the sorts of objections Bedau and Triant make? If not, how would you manage the risk of “Decisions in the dark?”


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