My support for the precautionary principle received a rather caustic email response from the CEO of the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), a " US-based nonprofit and nonpartisan legal research and advocacy organization". To my surprise it claimed that I compare "economic/democratic capitalism" with my "preferred French paternalistic socialist model of governance". This was the first time anyone told me that France is a socialist country.
The email can hardly be described as a contribution to scientific debate. It was the type of opinion piece that now tends to replace hard factual information in the newspapers: I was accused to promote "partisan science ideology of socialistic paternalism and utopianism, which is symptomatic of the religious faith-based orthodoxy of precautionary principle advocates".
How can one react to such stuff? I tried to explain that "I teach my students to base every judgement on facts. In my lecture notes I try to show the development of science, civilization and society based on facts of history. I may not have achieved that in every aspect, but I hope that people at least see that I tried." But that did not satisfy the ITSSD, who declared that I do not understand "the legal and economic dimensions surrounding these issues".
I think the real value of the emails from the ITSSD is the demonstration of the hardline ideological character of those who oppose the European initiative to give the precautionary principle more prominence in the administration of industrial products such as new chemicals. I am sure that the "nonpartisan" ITSSD does not speak for the scientists of the USA, but it surely reflects government attitude. If you want to see this kind of ideology in action, see my "Postscriptum" at the end of lecture 35.