GMOs just one in a line of demonized tech, study finds

In AgFax

Disruptive, transformative technologies are being introduced at an accelerating pace, fuelling opposition that impedes forms of innovation needed to meet profound challenges such as climate change, poverty and world hunger, says a new study from Harvard University.

Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technology, by Prof. Calestous Juma of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, chronicles the history of opposition to change — from tractors and certain uses of the printing press to coffee and margarine — and its underlying reasons.

Such understanding is critical, he argues, to the successful introduction and adoption of technological innovations needed to cope with humanity’s most serious economic and environmental challenges.

Published as a book by Oxford University Press, the 16-year study says fear and perceptions of lost employment, identity, and power drive impediment to innovation, and describes the widening gap between the pace of technological advancement and slow rate at which society adjusts.

Says Dr. Juma:”To meet the needs of a growing world population on a warming planet, humanity’s hopes are pinned on the introduction of transformative technologies but progress can be impeded by unreasonable obstruction to change.”

The study acknowledges the need to address legitimate health and environmental concerns related to new products and technologies and underlines that transparency, inclusiveness and caution in the handling of scientific uncertainty as critical elements of public trust.

The study chronicles the extraordinary measures taken by opponents to change, and the tenacity of entrepreneurs and technologists who overcame it.

Read the rest of the story.

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