Friday, July 26th, 2013

Technophobia — It’s More than Chemophobia and Plastiphobia

We in the plastics business frequently are impacted by plastiphobia — the irrational fear of plastics, and because it is irrational it is all the more frustrating trying to deal with it. Logical, factual, scientific arguments are shouted down by phobics, or simply ignored. I think the following quote provides a helpful perspective on the broader area of technophobia:

“Maybe it’s worth remembering that technology vilification is about as old as technology itself. What’s new is electronic gossip and the proliferation of organizations that peddle such gossip for a living.”

The electronic gossip reference obviously is to the Internet. You will recall that several of the first scientists to discover the earth revolves around the sun were rewarded for their insight by being imprisoned, tortured, burned at the stake, or all three. If the Internet had existed at the time, it would have happened faster.

The quotation is taken from an essay in this week’s Scientific American titled “Can We Trust Monsanto With Our Food?” by Nina Fedoroff, distinguished professor of biosciences at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

The author is writing about the controversy encircling genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Scientists, she says, now have three decades of research that finds no credible evidence that modifying plants by molecular techniques is dangerous. That research should have caused early alarms about the technology to dissipate, she says, but instead the anti-GMO storm has intensified and the fear mongering continues.

We in the plastics sector share your frustration Ms. Federoff, and we also share your passion for science, rational thinking, and the rule of evidence. Let’s keep at it.

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