Risk row repaired

March 21, 1997

PURE and social scientists ended a five-year squabble and returned to debate risk at the Royal Society this week. More than 300 academics, policy makers, industrialists and members of the public attended a conference, Science in Society: Science, Policy and Risk.

In 1992 an attempt by the society to bridge the gap between objective risk as measured by pure scientists and subjective and culturally constructed risk described by social scientists degenerated into near-anarchy, with the accompanying handbook being published in two distinct sections.

Among the speakers, Derek Burke, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, who admitted his mistake in once believing that all "experts" had to do was to decide whether a novel food or process was safe and a grateful public would accept it,.

However, the meeting was not without debate, particularly over the usefulness of the term expert when speaking of scientists, as opposed to the non expert public.

See WWW on http://thesis. newsint.co.uk/RS.rs.html.

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