Scientists need to better educate the public

Dr. Leroy E. Hood, a genetics researcher
at the University of Washington at Seattle, told a gathering of genetics
researchers that they need to spend more of their time educating the public
on the benefits and ethical challenges of science.

Hood told the researchers gathered
for the Short Course on Experimental and Mammalian Genetics that the coming
years will bring major advances that could potentially revolutionize medical
treatment. At the same time change is coming at such a breakneck pace
that the public is falling further behind and is occasionally caught up in
distorted images about genetics research.

“Scientists say they’re
too busy with their own research and teaching,” Hood told the researchers,
“Well, everyone is busy. It’s a matter of priorities. A scientifically
literate public is important to many areas of research, including getting
it funded.”

Hood’s comments couldn’t
come a moment too soon. Already movements on either side of the Atlantic
are gearing up to protest and perhaps outlaw much of the results of genetic
engineering altogether. Greenpeace and others lead protests against genetically
altered plants while animal rights groups protest and occasionally destroy
research into promising areas of Xenotransplantation (transplanting animal
cells into human beings). If scientists don’t wake up and meet these
challenges head on, the issue might not be whether or not they can get
funded but whether or not they can legally continue to do their important
work.

Source:

Scientists urged to help public understand science. Michael Woods, Toledo Blade, July 30, 1998.

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