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March 1, 2000


Anti-science prejudices


AgBioView - http://www.agbioworld.org

Dear Friends
I am the director of a UN accredited NGO and youth education charity in the
UK called WORLDwrite. We promote international understanding and encourage
young people to critically examine contemporary prejudice. The GMO debate
thus ranks high on our list. We are unfortunately somewhat unique since
every other UK based NGO and charity seems to be taking an anti GM stance or
steering clear of what is a such a contentious issue here. (If there are
NGO's with a different view subscribing to this list, I would love to be
wrong and to hear from you.) We have been devouring your commentaries here
at our volunteer centre and would like to add a few thoughts. In dealing
with public perceptions particularly among young people I do believe
Attorney Rich Kottmeyer has a point. Challenging what are clearly
unscientific prejudices with scientific fact are crucial but I fear will not
ultimately change the statuesque, since I believe these prejudices are not
based purely on 'ignorance' of GMO's but a broader problem. Fear of
scientific advance and 'risk consciousness' is part of a broader social
trend, one in which humanity is belittled, visions of the future are bleak,
human development is endangered and experimentation is castigated. In the
circumstances I do believe it is necessary to consider Rich Kottmeyers
points, not as I believe he mistakenly suggests because there is a rampant
anti-Americanism in Europe-there isn't particularly, but because
anti-development, anti-corporatism and anti-human sentiments are rife. It is
possible however to connect with young people on for eample, issues
concerning the developing world, not as a device but as a truth; to
demonstrate that problems stem not from to much development but the utter
lack of it, hence GM crops offer a step forward. When young people begin to
consider human needs more broadly they are often then more open to the great
possibilities of scientific advance and forced to reflect upon and re-think
their own low horizons.
This may be a long battle and slow process and at WORLDwrite we are
committed to making a small dent. This summer we are taking groups of young
students to Brazil, India, USA, and Germany to re-examine the GM debate for
themselves. If anyone on this list might be able to meet with our groups
particularly in the USA to assist in a directly scientific understanding or
otherwise it would be of enormous benefit. They will be accompanied by a
film crew and they will be reporting back in colleges and schools in the UK
and Germany. If you would like further details, (or if you have any funding
ideas to assist with this global relay), please do get in touch.
Ceri Dingle
The WORLDwrite Volunteer Centre
Millfields Lodge
Millfields Road
London E5 OAR
Tel/Fax 00 44 (0)208 985 5435