BLAIR'S VEILED BLAST AT 'ANTI-SCIENCE' CHARLES
'The anti-science brigade threatens our progress and our prosperity.. they
are a powerful and vocal lobby, with access to all the media'
TONY Blair yesterday put himself on a
collision course with Prince Charles when he attacked Britain's "anti-science
The PM laid into "powerful and vocal figures
with access to all the media" who protested against GM-foods, stem cell research
and animal experiments.
Charles has set himself up as an
anti-science figure warning technology will kill the earth.
He has also led the campaign against
GM-foods by questioning their safety.
But Mr Blair warned such sentiment could
damage our economic future and said those who opposed scientific progress had
not conducted their arguments rationally.
In a speech at Oxford, he added: "The
anti-science brigade threatens our progress and our prosperity. We need
political and science leadership to stand up to them.
"The anti-GM lobby does not campaign against
GM human insulin because the benefits to people with diabetes is obvious.
"We need to take on and defeat the vestiges
of anti-science. This won't be done by lofty superiority but by engagement with
the street, with science out there talking, debating, listening and educating.
"In many instances, a powerful and vocal
lobby, with access to all the media channels and an interest in polarising the
argument, frames the debate.
"The misconceptions, often borne of the most
outrageous distortion of fact by campaigners, who in accusing others of a lack
of scruple show precious little of it themselves, can be so pervasive.
"They so easily take hold. Standing up to
this is harder than it sounds. But it is a classic example of the struggle
between short-term politics and long-term public good."
Downing Street insisted they were not trying
to "personalise" the debate.
But Liberal Democrat science spokesman Evan
Harris said Mr Blair himself was standing in the way of progress by closing
He said: "The PM has presided over the
imposition of massive debt on science graduates, a failure to provide specialist
science teachers and allowing the closure of university science departments."
And University and College Union chief Sally
Hunt claimed 70 science departments had been closed down in the past seven