The final session of the day on Monday was one of the most provocative, with a passionate speech - delivered without notes - from the New Yorker’s Michael Specter, who argued that we must engage in a more rational debate about risk and reward when it comes to industrialized food production and biotechnology in particular.
“Are GM crops 100% safe? Of course not”, said Specter. “Nothing is 100% safe. And there are lots of things we could do better, but let’s do them better instead of saying we should never have done them in the first place.”
Click here for more details about the speech and some reaction.
Separately, fellow speaker Dr Paul Rozin from the department of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the issue of corporate sponsorship and industry-funded science.
Research produced by people with financial or other ties with industry should be treated with caution, but should be assessed on its merits rather than instantly dismissed, given that money from independent sources is simply not available in many cases, he said.
Meanwhile, many academics have come to arrangements with industry whereby both parties agree that the results of any research will be published, regardless of whether they are favorable to the sponsoring company, he added.