Recomendaciones arriesgadas

BRIGHTON -- ¿Por qué parece que estamos presenciando un número cada vez mayor de sorpresas tecnológicas negativas? De hecho, el desastre nuclear de este año en Fukushima (Japón) y el vertido de BP del año pasado en el golfo de México han ocupado su lugar junto a problemas más antiguos, como el agotamiento de la capa de ozono. Creemos que lo esencial es la forma como se desarrollan y se comunican las recomendaciones científicas.

Cada vez se utiliza más la ciencia para apoyar decisiones que son esencialmente de política pública, en particular relativas a tecnologías nuevas y complejas, como los alimentos genéticamente modificados, las nuevas substancias químicas y las infraestructuras energéticas contrapuestas. Las decisiones sobre opciones y la forma de aplicarlas son difíciles, en vista de las incertidumbres sobre sus peligros, beneficios y posibles efectos secundarios. La dudas no sólo afectan a las probabilidades, sino que, además, se refieren también a los propios resultados y lo que podrían significar. Con frecuencia están en juego poderosos intereses económicos, con lo que las presiones aumentan aún más.

Con demasiada frecuencia, se considera el dictamen de los expertos más útil para las autoridades cuando se presenta como una sola interpretación “definitiva”. A consecuencia de ello, lo habitual es que los expertos minimicen la incertidumbre y, en la medida en que la reconocen, suelen reducir los factores desconocidos a un “riesgo” calibrable.

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