Letter: The uses of science

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Sir: Sir Richard Sykes ("Science must allay the public's fears", Podium, 14 September) displays exactly the limited perspective on scientific development which creates public fear. In misrepresenting the debate as one between those who are for and against science, he misses the point, which is whether science is put to good use or bad.

Greenpeace strongly supports the application of science and new technology to amend environmental problems, such as our initiatives to create markets for ozone- and climate-friendly fridges, PVC-free credit cards and renewable energy sources. We oppose misapplication of science which leads to uncontrollable environmental risks such as those posed by nuclear power and release of genetically engineered organisms, or continued investment in fossil fuel extraction technologies when we cannot safely burn the fossil fuels we have already.

If Sir Richard wishes to allay fears he should acknowledge the real dilemmas, not pretend that all those who question the bad applications of science have "a lack of real understanding" or see all "scientific advances as heralding Armageddon". In a recent poll across the whole of Europe, increased knowledge about genetic engineering led to no greater acceptance. "Real understanding" will not necessarily remove public concerns, because members of the public frequently bring different values to bear.


Scientific Political Adviser

Greenpeace UK

London N1