Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Technology regulation spurred by a mix of science and politics*

“Without technology innovators, would regulators have anything to do?” The author of the article* then proceeded to write about the skeptical attitude of regulators towards technological advances, saying that it “wouldn’t be surprising or even unwelcome if the skepticism was always based on scientific inquiry, but sometimes the barriers are erected by politics or a “just-say-no” agenda rooted in cultural and social opposition.” The author then cited specific examples of how governmental regulatory agencies forbid the introduction to the market of certain genetically modified products despite the absence of studies to support the notion that they are harmful. A farmer quoted in the article even theorized that there’s a grand scheme involved in all the prohibition regulations, that the organic farmers are trying utilize anti-biotech politics to put a crimp in the production of genetically enhanced food everywhere to ease them out of the market, instead of relying on good old-fashioned competition. The article ended on this note – “There is a huge difference between technology regulation driven by science and that provoked by political causes. Public acceptance of biotech and nanotech products may depend on policymakers and journalists being able to tell the difference.”

In imposing regulations, authorities should always have in mind public welfare. Will this measure bring more good than harm to the public? In the case espoused by the farmer, regulation made the food products more costly (we all know that organically grown products cost as much as 3 times the commercially produced products), and this is not even because of the need to protect people from harmful elements in the GMO (which does not exist according to the study) but from the fear of technology. A negative attitude is understandable since it’s always better to be safe than sorry. But if there is proof that such fear is misplaced, then there’s no more reason to enact such regulations. It will just kill competition and drive prices up. And in a third world country like us where a significant portion of the population is living in poverty, such proper regulation has a deep impact.

*for the full text, visit

Katrina May Sy, 10th Blog Entry

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