In truth, there is no such thing as absolute safety; but this fundamental human need may explain the excessive search for certainty in particular as the world seems awash with a constant flow of disconcerting events.
It seems obvious then to assume that risk is the opposite of safety. But it isn’t: as inaction also entails risks, we need instead to properly assess the benefits of risk-taking, such as accepting new technologies, medicines or – yes even – accepting that a global government will not avert all risks.
The key in this respect is opportunity costs. By definition we cannot know fully know the results of our actions beforehand. Consider GMO crops: these are largely shunned and condemned in Europe, despite their documented benefits and the absence of any adverse event since they were first put into practice some 20 years ago.
As brilliantly expressed by the director of EuropaBio, it is not GMO products that should bear special labels, but rather the much praised “bio”products; the former have been extensively tested, especially for allergies; the latter have not. It would be reasonable then to have these marked “Warning: does not contain GMO ingredients”.
Monsanto is a prime target in this respect. It has produced numerous seeds capable of resisting insects, droughts, water-poor soils and related problems. Yet the company is constantly attacked – no good deed goes unpunished – for market domination and for defending its patents.
A simple question to the green lobby: how do you propose to feed the world’s starving people once you have eliminated GM crops, fossil fuels and economic development? Nobody can eat CO2 offsets (except perhaps Al Gore).