Chapter 6: Risk and the Social Sustainability of Innovation
You would say I have lost my faith in science, and progress... (Sting: ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith in You’) INTRODUCTION Since the second half of the 20th century, there has been increasing criticism of scientific and technological advances. Some examples of this are the popular opposition and concerns related to nuclear energy, environmental pollution’s effect on health, human reproductive technologies, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These reactions differ a great deal from country to country (as in the case of environmental pollution awareness), from one period of time to another (anti-nuclear energy groups were particularly strong in the late 1970s), and from issue to issue (human cloning has been universally rejected, whereas opinions about abortion vary considerably). Scientific and technological advances that take place in our industrialized economies constantly pose new social and political questions about the limits to scientific activity and how our society should deal with itself. Answering these questions is a matter of political decision anticipating risks and solving new ethical dilemmas, in what is essentially a matter of collective values and choices. This chapter deals with the former issue, that of risk, as it has been a hot topic of political debate in the EU, and represents in many ways the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of a much wider political and social concern about the ‘governance of science’ in the European Union. What has this to do with innovation policy? The EU’s technology policy of the 1980s was hardly touched by popular dissatisfaction. Most...
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