The Social Cost of GMOs

Paul Craig Roberts

Ecological economists such as Herman Daly write that the more full the world becomes, the higher are the social or external costs of production.

Social or external costs are costs of production that are not captured in the price of the products. For example, dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico that result from chemicals used in agriculture are not included as costs in agricultural production. The price of food does not include the damage to the Gulf.

Food production is a source of large social costs. Indeed, it seems that the more food producers are able to lower the measured cost of food production, the higher the social costs imposed on society.

World Federation of Scientific Workers Symposium
“A solution for energy, our key to survival”
Round-table 2
Nuclear as a Bridging Fuel towards Renewables
Frederico Gama Carvalho
Cosmocaixa (Barcelona) – May 12th, 2015

The world we know is in turmoil. On the one hand we are about to live through a process of slow change of the environment and of human society with roots in the past that although almost imperceptible to many yet progressively creates the basis for profound changes in the life support capability of the Earth, that will shape the future of generations to come. On the other hand, the major stakeholders on the planet’s resources are in general almost exclusively concerned with raising profits without seriously examining the long and often medium term consequences of their actions. This is true of changes in the biosphere, in the lithosphere and in the outer space as well.

Our Common Future at Risk

Socially responsible scientific workers do not ignore that their work is the source of the scientific and technical advances that permeate today’s society and in many ways influence the daily life of our fellow citizens. Scientific workers, as citizens share the fate of the community to which they belong and share as human beings the fate of mankind. The world is in a large measure shaped by the scientific and technical revolution that acquired an increased momentum in the second half of the past century. It is reasonable to assert that each and every development in science and technology may lead potentially or effectively to positive or negative consequences: it may be used in a beneficial or harmful way as far as the future of mankind and of the planet is concerned. It is the duty of scientific workers as citizens to educate those who do not possess their specialized knowledge on the consequences thereof. One should not ignore that quite often researchers are held hostage by powerful interests that limit their freedom of research as well as the possibility of exposing publically what they consider to be the pernicious nature of projects assigned to them and the possible harmful applications of the results of their work. The persecution of whistle blowers has become a vehement demonstration of this state of affairs.



WFSW Statement on the Threat of Nuclear War and the Possible Consequences of the Use of Nuclear Explosives

For many decades, the dangers associated with the use of nuclear explosives in warfare have been a major concern of the World Federation of Scientific Workers. The design of nuclear weapons of increasing sophistication and yield, its production and stockpiling by a handful of states has been and is going on since the very first nuclear explosions that took place in the middle of the twentieth century. Immediately after the 2d World War a large number of scientific workers including several Nobel laureates have alerted public opinion and attempted to brief influential political decision makers on the dire consequences of nuclear explosions on people’s lives and on the environment.

Our first president and co-founder of WFSW, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, resigned his post of Head of the French High Commission on Atomic Energy as the French government decided to develop an atomic weapon.

Since 1945 and until the end of the so-called “cold war” the total number of nuclear test explosions exceeded 2000 of which more than 500 were conducted in the atmosphere. The total yield of detonated explosives is estimated as the equivalent to 540 million tons of TNT, a number approximately 8000 times that of the blast yield of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The detonation of a nuclear explosive can lead to massive destructions both of living beings and of inert structures. Through a range of different effects it may cause immediate death but also long term time delayed health damages due to the direct exposure to radiations and to the environmental contamination caused by the fallout of radioactive dust. As a consequence of the deflagration, temperatures of several thousand degrees can arise in large areas surrounding “ground zero” as well as wind speeds that can exceed a thousand kilometers per hour. These effects lead to enormously destructive firestorms.



Frederico Gama Carvalho

(Portuguese - Sobre as Armas Químicas)

January 2013 marked the twentieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction. Known as the Chemical Weapons Convention, it is the outcome of an intergovernmental agreement that was negotiated in the context of the so-called “Conference on Disarmament”, a body that was established in 1984 outside the United Nations system but is recognized by it. The text of the Convention was submitted to and adopted by the UN General Assembly in 19921. The Convention came into force in April 1997, after it had been signed and subsequently ratified by 65 states. Many states had already signed the Convention before that date, but it was only then that the minimum required number of ratifications was achieved. States that had not signed the Convention before its entry into force could, from that moment onwards, use the so-called “accession” instrument to become parties thereto. This instrument has the same effect as ratification without requiring the prior signature of the Convention.

Israel signed the Convention in January 1993 but it hasn't so far ratified it and is therefore not considered a State Party to the Convention. The Syrian Arab Republic acceded to the Convention on 14 September 2013 and committed itself to fully comply with its provisions immediately, thus waiving the 30-day period after the date of accession provided therein for its entry into force.

In a significant number of cases, the deposit of the instruments of signature, ratification or accession was accompanied by statements aimed at safeguarding the acceding state's strategic interests or specific positions.

Thus, the USA acceded to the Convention on the condition that, with regard to the Annex on Implementation and Verification, “no sample collected in the United States pursuant to the Convention will be transferred for analysis to any laboratory outside the territory of the United States”.

The Member States of the European Union have indicated that their compliance with the obligations laid down in the Convention will be dependent upon their compatibility with the provisions in the EU Treaties “if and insofar as such provisions are applicable”.

Syria, the most recent state to accede to the Convention has committed itself to fully comply with its provisions, to observe them faithfully and sincerely and to apply them even before the Convention actually comes into force in its territory, as was mentioned above. In its statement, Syria emphasized that its accession “shall in no way signify recognition of Israel or entail entry into any dealings with Israel in the context of the provisions of the Convention”.

Guantánamo, in the case of Cuba; Gibraltar, in the case of Spain; the Malvinas in the case of Argentina, are some of the special circumstances that were the object of statements at the time of the accession of the relevant State Parties to the Convention, with a view to safeguarding their claims to the sovereignty over those territories.

At present, 190 states are parties to the Convention 2 . Non-Member States include Angola, Myanmar, Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan and, as mentioned above, Israel.

The deliberate use of toxic chemicals to destroy human lives or cause the death of other living organisms has a long history and has taken many forms. Such chemicals were used in theatres of war against military forces and civilian populations; as a means to carry out genocides or to eliminate specific groups of human beings; to fight armed dissident or terrorist groups. More recently, and especially since the second half of the 20th century with the advancement of science and chemical technologies, significant developments occurred in the agents used for the aforementioned ends. It is particularly worrying that such developments continue to take place using increasingly sophisticated technical and scientific means. An area of particular concern is that of so-called “non-lethal” chemical agents which are described as “incapacitating” and supposedly designed to “maintain law and order”.

In 2007, the British Medical Association published a study entitle “The Use of Drugs as Weapons” 3 where it stated that we are “knowingly moving towards the top of a 'slippery slope' at the bottom of which is the specter of 'militarization' of biology” including the “intentional manipulation of people's emotions, memories, immune responses or even fertility”.

Chemical weapons are particularly perverse weapons as their effects are long-lasting and stretch over territories in ways that are difficult to control. Fatalities due to direct exposure are but a small fraction of those who, while surviving, will carry for the rest of their lives the physical and mental effects of the use of such weapons.

Nvens de cloro










Clouds of chlorine gas on a battlefield in the First World War

COMPETIÇÃO E ÉTICA CIENTÍFICA: uma perspectiva contra-corrente que suscita reflexão


Henry H. Bauer

The Science Bubble

When a useful activity expands without restraint, when more is not necessarily better, a collapse may occur that causes widespread harm. This phenomenon, known as a “Bubble,” is commonly associated with financial fads and crashes, as we witnessed most recently with the Mortgage Bubble that caused the Great Recession of 2008. It all began with an activity that is almost universally agreed to be socially useful, as mortgages enable people to own their residence, an activity that is believed to encourage responsible behavior. So, obviously, the more mortgages, the better! Government policies encouraged that. The greater the number and value of mortgages, the more benefit accrued to banks, insurance companies, and other sources of mortgage funding, and to the employees of those institutions. And so what was initially a socially desired means of enabling people to buy their homes became a quite different thing: a socially divisive and destructive system for bringing wealth to certain institutions and individuals and disastrous “side” effects to other individuals and institutions.