Can the food system be scientifically oriented?

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Confidence in science: Is it total or partial?

By Yvonne Colomer | Science interprets unknown realities and their different specializations make them useful for society.

Science interprets unknown realities and their different specializations make them useful for society.

And how can we know that an interpretation of reality is science and not “pseudoscience”?

There is a conceptually simple way, which is applied in the scientific world: “any fact must be able to be described in such a way, that it can be reproduced by anyone (of course, anyone who has the means of preparation), and with a statistical certainty minimum of 95%. Since all discovery is limited by the equipment available, and this 5% margin represents in a way what remains to be known.

It is evident that not all of us can repeat the new realities and advances that almost every day shows us science, due to its difficulty of preparation, for the means and time required. We must therefore trust in the confidence that media opinion makers offer us. And here, there is a risk, and it’s big. The scientific method must be integrated into our world, not by repeating the experiment (which may be difficult as we have explained), but by exploring in a wide environment, if the fact offers a significant positive advice from the scientific world (endorsed by universities, research centers National and international…).

With a certain sense of humor we can adopt the following criterion against a novel interpretation different from that offered by the science developed so far, and we can think that only two things can happen: a) that the interpretation is a scientific fraud or b) that we are point to opt for a new Nobel prize. In both cases, it is absolutely necessary to review it, especially if we can be victims of the first situation.


And in the face of this problem of belief, and in an increasingly emotional rather than rational base society, we observe a curious behavior: society believes in scientific information in certain cases, while in others it is carried away by “pseudoscience” , the conspiracy theories and the return to the Paleolithic.

We believe in physics in all its aspects (photonics, quantum, elementary, particles, astrophysics … ..) in basic chemistry, in mathematics … general, in everything that seems to be external to us.

But when we are aware that the reality described affects us, personal or group opinions begin to appear, giving their own interpretation of the facts. And this is even more important when it affects health and nutrition. And here also bipolar behavior occurs.

In health it is evident that advances in medicine, both in drugs, immune techniques or surgical techniques, have increased life expectancy in a spectacular way. Recall that the life expectancy of the Spanish has doubled in just four generations. Spain has become the country of the European Union (EU) with the highest life expectancy (82.4), only two European countries, not members of the EU, surpass Spain, Iceland (83 years) and Switzerland ( 82.5). And science and food have something to do with it. And in general, these technologies are accepted, although there are groups that question them, especially in relation to immunological advances that protect not only the individual, but the society of the pandemics that have been the scourge of humanity for centuries. And his arguments of defense, would not exceed the simplest criterion of verification that we have pointed out.

Also on the subject of food and food, we can refer to three areas where the abundance of “off-scientific” criteria make a dent in the population: the first referred to primary production, which is demonized by advances of genetic techniques in production; advances, all of them validated and endorsed by the strictest scientific evaluation criteria and the respective bioethics committees. This, in the long run, can produce economic and therefore social imbalances. It has already happened repeatedly throughout history, and even once there have been dubious interpretations of the scientific advances shown, as a smokescreen for social problems to which society has to respond.

Another area is the one related to the transformation and preparation of food, which is questioned on occasion by situations that have already been overcome and scientifically proven several times. We can refer for example, to the use of sodium glutamate (amino acid present in human milk). The sowing of unfounded suspicions (verification by scientific method) or doubts in the use of proven technologies or approved ingredients, can also suggest manipulation or other non-transparent attitudes if they can not be guaranteed.

And we can refer as third area, to media pressure for miracle diets of all kinds.

Well, all this can have a significant remedy: the level of training and information supported on the subject. The scientific basis that is explained to the citizen but clearly distinguishing the proven part of the hypothesis. And here the risk may be that it goes beyond the hypothesis (still to check) to the “pseudoscience”. And all this the citizens must know. Challenge difficult, very difficult because at the same time we must prepare a clear and exciting message and face the conspiratorial and “pseudo-scientific” forces for which solid training is its corrosive agent. And this is difficult in a basically emotional society. A challenge for the dissemination of all the achievements of science and the most cutting-edge advances of today. As a positive data of the way to go, our country appears in the first rankings more prestigious worldwide in terms of publications.

By Yvonne Colomer | Director of Triptolemos Foundation