Critics of science argue it alone is inadequate for making public policy. Evidence-based findings, they say, must be measured against the peoples’ pulse. Only with the public’s blessing can science be considered a reasonable foundation for creating policy.
Ideally, this approach would prompt the kind of public debate that makes for a true democracy. But in reality, the best way to measure the peoples’ pulse is still in the works. Public opinion cannot measured in the decibel levels of only those with the loudest voices who have figured out how to capture headlines. But neither should their voices be ignored.
Voices from all sides came together recently in Ottawa to debate the merits of genetically modified agricultural products entering the public domain without a precautionary analysis of their potential impact on exports. Ultimately, science beat precaution. But with new technology such as the University of Guelph’s Enviropig just around the corner, the issue is far from over. I write about it in my Urban Cowboy column in the Guelph Mercury.