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Quantifying risk through science

I found Mr Doering’s article somewhat difficult to follow, as the term science was never explained. Science is knowledge reduced to a system, (New Webster Dictionary). The system almost always used is numbers. Science approaches a problem from the point of view that there is a cause-and-effect scenario at work. Things happen for a reason. An apple falls from a tree because of forces at work which can be rendered into a set of numbers, 1+1=2, f=1/2mv2.

Early on in the scientific revolution of the 18th century it was understood that carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas,” i. e. that while it lets sunlight in, it also acts as an insulator keeping in heat. It was, and is understood by science that if there is enough CO2 in the atmosphere, the planet’s surface temperature will be changed. Change is not a singular event, change produces change. Long story short, it has always been known that our actions here on earth have been altering the climate in a foreseeable manner.

Science by definition implies an understanding of the processes involved. It is for this reason that science cannot say that GMO technology is safe, as we do not have the data to support this statement. All that science does know is that the practice of using inter-species genetic transfer will produce change.

Regarding our use of folic acid, it was noted that changes in food policies were made “for trade and political reasons.”

I would interpret this to mean for monetary/financial reasons. The same reason we have global warming, polluted waters, food and air. We risk much to gain little.

If the precautionary principle is not the answer, how about “common sense” – that hard-to-define virtue so seldom seen.

Wayne James Beausejour, Man.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or e-mail: [email protected](subject: To the editor)

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