Being cautious now better than ‘sorry’ later

Duncan – You are correct, Mr. Barker, that a third year microbiology course does not make you an expert, but I don’t think it gives you much insight into GMO foods either.

Even having spent several decades actually working in microbiology, several of those years in developmental research, I don’t consider myself an expert either. I do think it gives me some insight into the dangers of people, scientists included, thinking they are experts.

Mr. Barker, you are too young to remember the early days of antibiotic use. I am not. I remember even making penicillin! We thought we were very smart! We were assured that infections were now a thing of the past.

How wrong we were! A new wonder antibiotic always seemed to be found that worked when a bacterium became resistant to ones being used. Instead of testing an organism to one or two antibiotics, in a few years we testing for many.

We abused the use of antibiotics. We now have Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] and Clostridium difficile which are closing hospital wards and costing the medical system millions of dollars. They are a public health problem. How many people are suffering because of our ignorance – and arrogance? It can take many years to discover dangers and problems in any new discovery. Think of the use – and abuse – of X-rays, asbestos, formaldehyde. We are right to be cautious now, easier than saying “sorry” 20 or 30 years from now.

Trudy Thorgeirson