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.
We are facing today a number of serious challenges of different nature that put our common future at risk. These challenges can only be overcome by radical changes in the way human societies are organized which suppose political, economic, social and cultural changes.
Honeybee landing on a milk thistle flower Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
See “Saving the Honeybee”, Diana Cox-Foster and Dennis van Engelsdorp, Scientific American, April 2009, pp.24-31
The uncontrolled use of pesticides and of antibiotics connected with the factory farming of animals and with industrial agriculture using genetically modified seeds; the destruction of forests and the growing environmental pollution, are a few important examples of the challenges associated with a profit driven policy of unsustainable material development and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny fraction of the world population.
The article by Dr. Roberts, “The Social Cost of GMOs” deals with a few of the relevant questions touched upon in the above text.
Frederico G. Carvalho