Letter: Facts about milk and phthalates

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The Independent Online
Sir: The furore over phthalates in milk highlights the fundamental problems arising when scientific issues have public importance. The reluctance of government officials to release more details suggests they are worried the public will not be able to assess the evidence. Whether or not this is true, it is a timely reminder that every citizen these days is faced with public issues of increasing technical and scientific complexity.

It is vital for the public understanding of science to continue to improve and one factor in ensuring this is to maintain a healthy science research base. In this context Tom Wilkie's article (28 May) makes depressing reading. He points out that the government funded research and development planned for next year is pounds 31m per week less than in 1985. Scientific underfunding will inevitably lead to scientific illiteracy.

Dr W N CATFORD

Department of Physics

University of Surrey

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