Science is for innovation, but what is the public for?

The UK government is worried. It says science underpins the economy, but the big issue is public opinion, reports Robert Walgate.

Robert Walgate(walgate@scienceanalysed.com)
Jul 30, 2000

LONDON, 31 July (Science Analysed) The first UK White Paper (government statement) on science for seven years, published last week, is very clear about the key issue in science — but a good deal less clear on what to do about it. And the issue is not money. It's public disquiet. And until the inquiry into past governments' handling of information on BSE, chaired by Lord Phillips, reports in the autumn, the Government approach to massaging public opinion on science seems likely to remain ill-defined.

But first of all, British scientists can cheer. With a 15% increase in the science budget last year, and a recent commitment to a further 7% a year for the next three years, this government has shown its scientific colours [see BioMed Central article Devil's in the detail of UK science boost]. It is in favour of science — at least, if...

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