Food Science & Technology Under Attack
The promise of a better future through technology was a major theme of the original television series Star Trek in the 1960s. However, this philosophy is seemingly being rejected and replaced by the wistfulness of another 60s TV show “Green Acres.” Gentleman farmer Oliver and space scientist Mr. Spock are not simply television characters; they represent the opposing issues in the current debates on food technology. For nearly 40 years, many of the most significant technological advances in food science and technology (e.g., biotechnology, irradiation, fortification, packaging, artificial sweeteners, and nanotechnology) have met and continue to be hindered by a lack of consumer acceptance. The public is being led to believe that the food industry deals in a sea of toxic chemicals that are causing everything from cancer to obesity. Public policy on health and foods is often made in an environment where science-based evidence takes a back seat. Members of professional societies like IFT need to realize that every negative headline undercuts public trust in their profession; every politically expedient decision lessens public confidence in science; and every hyperbolic claim weakens the credibility of scientists.
On Tuesday morning from 8:30–10:00 am in Room 292, Session 228 Star Trek or Green Acres: The Future Roles of Chemistry and Technology in the Food Industry, Regulatory Policy, and Human Health: Part 1 – Where Are We and How Did We Get Here? will examine the evidence of how the public views science and scientists. The session will include discussions on the consequences of public attitudes (particularly on the acceptance of new food ingredients, processes, and technologies) and how scientists and professional societies can change negative attitudes into positive outcomes.
Part 2 (Session 257) of this symposium will subsequently take place from 10:30 am–12:00 pm in Room 292.