In Europe, environmentalists have, with religious fervour, opposed the planting of crop varieties developed using biotechnology, even though such crops may increase yields and improve nutrition, thereby reducing hunger and reducing pressure to convert wilderness. They have also attacked foods derived from such crops, labelling them “Frankenfoods”, seeking to implant fear into the hearts of consumers, and demanding strict regulations for the labelling of such foods.
In the US, religious conservatives have objected to the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research, even though such research may lead to the development of treatments and cures for many diseases. A direct result has been to shut off Federal funding for such research; while much of the shortfall has been made up by private sector contributions, there remains a bias in Federal funding.
Professor Silver will discuss the influences that local cultural-religious attitudes have on biotechnology research and development in different parts of the world.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Lee M. Silver is a professor at Princeton University in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He also has joint appointments in the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, the Center for Health and Wellbeing, the Office of Population Research, and the Princeton Environmental Institute, all at Princeton University.
Silver is the author most recently of Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life (2006), which was described by Nicholas Wade in The New York Times as, “A valuable exposition of the rationalist's view of the world, showing how seriously it differs from many widely held beliefs … He argues eloquently that biotechnology holds the solution to many serious problems but is being shackled by public misperceptions.”