Marion Nestle - Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism
2003 | ISBN: 0520232925 | English | 356 pages | EPUB, MOBI | 8 MB
This new book presents the thesis that food safety is a political issue. Sections on pathogens in the food supply and food biotechnology are followed by a concluding section that summarizes the main arguments, reviews the reasons why the food supply might serve as a medium of terrorist activity, and makes a number of grounded recommendations regarding the future of food safety.
A safe food, according to Nestle, is "one that does not exceed an acceptable level of risk" (p. 16). Decisions about acceptability, it is argued, involve opinions and values, as well as science. For this reason, a "science-based" approach to food safety, which balances risk against benefits and costs and contributes to the estimation of risk, is distinguished from a "value-based" approach focused on the acceptability of risk, which tends to balance risk against dreaded outcomes or feelings of outrage. This point is not presented here in the familiar form of a distinction between expert and lay perceptions of risk. The author recognizes the fact that scientific questions do not arise in value-free contexts and that value-based approaches often consider scientific arguments. The argument is rather that when commercial interests are at stake in decisions about the acceptability of risks, these decisions unavoidably become political issues. Nestle points out that it is often difficult to distinguish science-based from value-based aspects of conflicting policies. Most of the book is accordingly devoted to examining actual disputes about food safety in a manner that distinguishes these aspects.