Thalidomide, eugenics, Tuskegee experiment, shock therapy lead long list of errors and abuses
by Alison Despathy
Science and technology have offered so much to the world. They are often associated with progress and life saving products and developments. However, it is absolutely essential that we acknowledge and remember that science and technology are double edged swords and they have also brought destruction, damage, despair and abuse as well. Ethics must be the driving force with science and technology because advances can help or harm depending on how they are implemented and incorporated into use and the world.
There is so much historically that science has gotten wrong and has misunderstood and so much technology that has left pain, death and damage in its wake. The list is endless but here is a start.
-DDT, lead and arsenic pesticides
-Dr. Semmelweis and hygiene
-arsenic, lead and mercury treatments
-genetically modified organisms
-hydrogenated oils/trans fats
-geocentric versus heliocentric worldview
-radium used in industry (watches)
-experimentation on people especially in Africa and Asia with medication and vaccines ie-trovafloxacin experimentation on Nigerian children in Africa by Pfizer,
-experimental dengue fever vaccines on children in the Philippines.
-butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Science is driven by peer reviewed research and this takes time. We have to ensure that we do not have blind faith in science and technology. We must hold caution and a healthy dose of skepticism based on historical track records and the reality of abuses and corruption in the industry and academia. We must hold respect for the process of seeking truth and knowledge.
The precautionary principle developed due to the historical track record of error in science and the fully warranted demand for the role of ethics to be considered and respected at all phases of the scientific process- research, development, trials, effects, approval and use. Erring on the side of caution has repeatedly shown to be a worthy and wise path in the realms of scientific and technological concepts and innovations. Understanding is a work in progress and the science is evolving , always unsettled and typically complex.
Add to this, the fact that we have hungry corporate beasts and markets that want to gobble up innovations and ideas to drive an industry and ultimately profit. Advertising, narratives and propaganda are all part of this game and it is up to the people to be aware and keep an eye to ensure truth. It is also so important that the scientific process of debate and dispute be allowed to happen in order to reach as clear an understanding as possible.
But industry and corporations are powerful and money can drive a path and as we have seen in the past with the Robber Barrons and Oil Barrons- monopolies, consolidation of power and control over a market is the ultimate goal by global corporations. Securing their industry and product is a dream come true- and this is yet another reason that legislation related to an industry, based on science must be scrutinized and cannot be impulsive, ideological or destructive in its means to reach the desired outcome. There are multiple paths to reach resolution- assessing the paths must happen. The clean heat standard did not assess the paths and the majority of legislators did not seem to even understand the details. This is evident in the committee meetings and testimonies. Vermont can develop a better plan- a comprehensive plan- that offers real results and serves the environment and the people without playing the corporate carbon emissions game that has been offered as the answer through the Clean Heat Standard and the Global warming Solutions Act. This is the problem with these they are corporate driven solutions that serve industry not the environment or people. No doubt Vermont can and will do better than this.
Creating positive change for the environment and people must come in many forms. There is usually not a simple answer to complex problems. Real Solutions will encompass multiple avenues including diversification of energy sources, grid upgrades, weatherization, incentives, incorporating technologies such as solar panels and EVs, regulating toxins and chemicals that also heavily damage the land, air and water and influence climate, researching and regulating geoengineering and stratospheric aerosols as they are also unleashed into the environment and impact climate. It must be comprehensive and well- rounded.
Legislation does not have to cause damage, yes compromises must be made but attacking people and businesses to force a system is not the answer. Locking into the market of carbon doesn’t serve the environment or the land – it simply plays the corporate game.
The author is a clinical nutritionist running for the Danville seat in the Vermont House of Representatives.