AEI Conferences Involving Jon
Crop Chemophobia: Are We Over-Regulating Pesticides?
January 18, 2011
What is the proper balance between crop protection and environmental and public health considerations? AEI scholar Jon Entine explores this question in a new edited volume, Crop Chemophobia: Will Precaution Kill the Green Revolution?
The Bloody Crossroads of Science and Policy: Personal Genomics
September 24, 2010
Public policy debates are increasingly based on matters of science, from issues such as energy and climate change to health and food safety. Yet the results of these debates vary, with good legislative outcomes when the available scientific evidence is used objectively and bad policy choices when it is interpreted subjectively in pursuit of a preordained policy agenda. Jon oversees a panel on the regulatory outlook for the burgeoning personal genomics industry. This "bloody crossroads" of science and policy was the subject at AEI.
The Science and Policy of BPA
June 9, 2010
Although regulatory authorities in the United States, most of Europe, Australia, and Japan have approved as safe the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA)--ubiquitous in plastic products and the lining of metal cans--controversy remains over its potential health effects when found in low doses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are reevaluating the chemical. Precautionary" regulatory actions, are underway in numerous jurisdictions, including in the U.S. Congress. At this conference, policy experts and scientists participated in a nonpartisan dialogue about the risks and benefits of using, or choosing not to use, BPA and whether a more precautionary approach should be adopted in regulating chemicals.
The 27 European Union (EU) governments have instituted new criteria that could ultimately blacklist around twenty-two chemicals--about fifteen percent of the EU pesticides market--used by the agricultural and pest control industries. The EU regulation embraces a more restrictive hazard structure based upon the "precautionary principle," which contends that some chemicals are intrinsically dangerous at any level, even absent definitive risk data. The new ban has been challenged by some policy experts concerned that it could damage food security while yielding limited or no health benefits.Proponents of the new pesticide regulations hail them as necessary precautions for addressing the unknown cumulative effects of chemical residues.
Israel faces hostility and pressure from religious enemies on its borders. But in a new book, "The Israel Test," author George Gilder reveals that Israel has also become "the crucial battlefield for capitalism and freedom in our time." In Gilder's telling, Israel has emerged in the early twenty-first century as a bastion of technological progress and commercial and scientific advance. Israeli Jews have achieved enormous success in areas ranging from business to the arts. Gilder argues that "if we allow Israel to be quelled or destroyed, we will be succumbing to forces targeting capitalism and freedom everywhere."
It is said to be sports' doomsday scenario: a new generation of chemically enhanced or bioengineered athletes transformed from also- rans into world champions. We are entering an age often referred to as posthumanist, and sport is its leading edge, benefiting from dramatic advances in medical technology, reconstructive surgery, and drug therapy. Most physiologists, ethicists, and sport authorities have attempted to draw a line — one that critics say is hazy and unenforceable — that makes certain performance-enhancing drugs and gene manipulation off limits.
Corporate Responsibility in an Era of New Internationalism
December 14, 2008
Corporations and governments are witnessing a resurgence of political and economic internationalism. Increasingly prominent issues such as the global financial crisis, the environment, human rights, the developing world, and trade policy have galvanized efforts by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and international governmental organizations to become more deeply involved in government and corporate policies. Considering that these are often contentiously debated issues, to what degree should sovereign governments be held accountable to these demands? How should corporations respond in light of their classic responsibility as wealth generators and engines of the world economy?
Crisis management has become the latest fashion in building a corporate reputation. Companies that come under siege from interest groups, trial lawyers, and the press wage image campaigns to make themselves "better liked" and often do so by playing down their capitalist purpose. Do these campaigns mislead the public? Do they validate the belief that for-profit entities are inherently corrupt and, therefore, injuring them is a virtuous act not to mention a victimless crime? Does corporate social responsibility represent a good business strategy in the long run, or has reputation management become, in effect, an apology for making money? If so, does this trend ultimately pose a threat to free enterprise?
Has the threat of global warming and soaring fossil fuel costs changed the prospects for nuclear energy? Advocates stress its potential cost-effectiveness and the coming generation of safe, efficient plants. Critics maintain that efficiency is a mirage and that environmental uncertainties remain. While technological advances have made nuclear power plants safer than ever, the United States has not ordered a new one since the 1970s. Yet new nuclear facilities are coming on line in India, China, and eastern Europe, while the United Kingdom and other G-8 countries have cautiously endorsed a move toward nuclear energy as an alternative to expensive and greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuel plants. Whether the legacies of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and a determined political opposition will derail new construction remains to be seen.
Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity
May 23, 2006
Daily horror stories in the media about unfit doctors, unhealthy foods, dangerous chemicals, soaring gas prices, and incompetent child care have created a culture of fear. But is that fear well-founded? A panel of AEI experts, moderated by Jon Entine, and ABC's John Stossel, author of Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity (Hyperion, May 2006), tackled the misconceptions, misrepresentations, and plain inanity that plague our society, including the role of law, genetics, and environmental activism in today's world.
Is Corporate Social Responsibility Serious Business?
March 3, 2006
Is Corporate Social Responsibility really a win-win situation as its promoters claim for both corporations and the public? Corporate leaders struggle with determining to whom their social responsibilities extend: to shareholders, employees, local communities, the environment, humanity as a whole, future generations? This conference examined the complex global CSR phenomenon and took an in-depth look at Wal-Mart, which has been under fire for some of its corporate, social, and environmental practices.
Our culture is in the grip of the "precautionary principle." From agricultural biotechnology and biomedicine to geopolitics, international business, education, and our most intimate relationships, risk aversion has become a defining and paralyzing ethic of our time. The notion that we should forsake the products and benefits of new technologies until it is proven that no adverse effects could result reflects an obsessive fear of the unknown. This conference, organized in cooperation with the UK Institute of Ideas, suggested that only by challenging the wider risk-averse culture that permeates contemporary society can we hope to rediscover a sense of purpose about progress and a desire to experiment with new ways of doing things.
NGOs: Indispensable or Unaccountable?
December 7, 2005
Government and international aid agencies have come to depend on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to implement their development policy programs. Corporations are increasingly expected to consult with NGOs prior to making investments in the developing world. Yet the long-term impact and effectiveness of NGOs is largely unknown. Does the U.S. government rely too much on NGOs in its aid efforts? Or are NGOs the only way to stop corrupt governments from lining their pockets with aid money? What should the relationship between corporations and NGOs be?
Science Wars: Should Schools Teach Intelligent Design?
October 21, 2005
What should public schools teach about life's origins? This debate has erupted anew because of the growing interest in intelligent design (ID) the notion that intelligent causes are responsible for the origin of the universe and of life in all its diversity. Proponents of teaching alternatives to evolution are now lobbying state legislatures and pressing school districts to incorporate ID into science curricula. Alarmed scientists and educators see ID as a disguised form of creationism and a direct attack on the scientific method and critical thinking. Is intelligent design religion or science? Would the teaching of intelligent design violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause?
Check out press coverage by the National Center for Science Education, the American Geological Institute.
Because of limitations on federal support for human embryonic stem cell research, the regulatory and research funding picture has become increasingly complex. Many states, led by California with the passage of Proposition 71, have begun setting up their own initiatives. There are concerns about the impact of the restrictive federal policy and the repercussions of private-public initiatives with limited federal oversight.
Race, Medicine, and Public Policy
November 12, 2004
Should “race” be considered in medical diagnoses and research? Check out the details about the AEI forum that Jon organized and view Jon's presentation on “Jewish Diseases,” a key part of his upcoming book, Abraham's Children, which will be published during 2005. (Read the UPI interview with Jon, "Tracing Jewish History Through Genes,” on his upcoming book.)
Read an article on the AEI "Race and Medicine" conference in American Medical News and a thoughtful USA Today editorial on the issue of ‘race and science' by Michael Crane, who attended the AEI conference.
Risk, Science, and Public Policy October 12, 2004
How to Save the Planet (Really) (.pdf)
The American Enterprise Magazine
January 2005 (Quoting Jon about the conference)
"Socially Responsible" Investing and Pension Funds
Welcome Reform or Fiduciary Nightmare?
June 7, 2004
Socially responsible” investing (SRI), which incorporates nonfinancial social and ethical criteria, has attracted significant publicity in recent years and sparked interest among some institutional investors, public pension funds, and Social Security reform advocates, particularly in the wake of recent corporate scandals. SRI adherents claim that one of every ten dollars in United States markets is invested using SRI principles. Although those claims are widely disputed, there is no question that public and some private pension programs are being asked to consider if and when they should include social and ideological screens when making investments. Social investing is not an exclusively American phenomenon. It is popular in Britain and Europe, and governments from Malaysia to Sweden to Canada have utilized pension funds to support stock markets or to make loans or create incentives with explicit social goals. Is this trend welcomed or a threat to fiduciary independence and responsibilities?
Critics Fear Pension Activism (quoting Jon)
David Hafetz, New York
Sunday, July 22, 2004
Biotechnology, the Media, and Public Policy
June 12, 2003
For more than two decades, scientists have been working to develop a range of animal, agricultural, and industrial products (such as foods and pharmaceuticals) made with the help of genetic modification. As has often been the case with the introduction of new scientific methods, gene manipulation has stirred intense and contentious debates. This sometimes-confrontational atmosphere has limited the use of this new technology by negatively shaping public attitudes and government policies toward bioengineering around the world. This conference will focus on the origins of this debate; how the dialogue on genetic modification has shaped public policy around the world; how it impacts the commercial realities of companies developing new products; how it might alter the course of future research; and what strategies might be formulated to develop a more rational public policy that would foster more constructive discussion over the costs and benefits of genetic manipulation.
We're Not from the Government, but We're Here to Help You
Jon's paper: "Why NGO-Stakeholder Dialogue Can Endanger Corporate Social Responsibility" American
June 11, 2003
In recent years, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have proliferated, their rise facilitated by governments and corporations desperate to subcontract development projects. While many NGOs have made significant contributions to human rights, the environment, and economic and social development, a lack of international standards for NGO accountability also allows far less credible organizations to have a significant influence on policymaking. The growing power of supranational organizations and a loose set of rules governing the accreditation of NGOs has meant that an unelected few have access to growing and unregulated power. NGOs have created their own rules and regulations and demanded that governments and corporations abide by those rules. Many nations’ legal systems encourage NGOs to use the courts-or the specter of the courts-to compel compliance. Politicians and corporate leaders are often forced to respond to the NGO media machine, and the resources of taxpayers and shareholders are used in support of ends they did not intend to sanction.