Better The Milk Devil You Know

NEW ZEALAND - In the furore over A1 and A2 milk, the most important factor – the science – has been overlooked, says Lincoln University professor Keith Woodford.
calendar icon 1 November 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

In the recent media frenzy over A1 and A2 milk there has been a remarkable omission. There have been lots of claims and counterclaims, but there has been almost nothing on the science. Yet science is what it all depends on.

Why is it that as a society we are unable to debate science? Are we so scientifically illiterate that we cannot even explore such matters, but have to leave it to those who self-proclaim to be experts?

For the past three years I have been trying to get Fonterra directors to engage on the issue of A2. But I cannot find a single director who has a strong science background. There is plenty of business, economics and strategic management experience, but there is no one who considers himself sufficiently literate in science to even engage in dialogue. It is a tragedy.

Understanding the detailed science of A1 and A2 milk can indeed be complex. But to understand the big picture should be within the capability of every citizen.

However, the problem goes even deeper than that. Even among those with science degrees there is a remarkable lack of understanding as to how science really works.

Many science graduates understand the principles of chemistry, biology and physics but have little appreciation of how science progresses. In particular, there is an unfortunate tendency to regard the existing state of received knowledge as being "facts" that must at all costs be defended. Anything that challenges this status quo of knowledge is seen as a threat and is itself often labelled as "unscientific".

Source: Stuff
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