Sound Science

The case for Technology Assessment

Does establishing a UN facility for technology assessment politicize science? Some agencies and treaties have subsidiary scientific bodies and some of these have been accused of allowing governments to interfere in their scientific work. However, one of the biggest changes since the 1992 Earth Summit has been the transformation of publicly-funded science to work in the service of private industry. When some governments – and many companies – express concern about the politicization of science they may be more concerned that the corporate monopolization of science and technology will come under governmental -- and societal -- scrutiny.

Science not only comes under pressure from industry but also from the cultural and economic biases that afflict other sectors of society. The mantra that “sound science” must decide an issue assumes a firewall between science and those with a vested interest in the outcomes of science, guaranteeing independent and, in fact, the best possible decision-making. This in itself is a highly speculative notion, perhaps even no more than wishful thinking.

 

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