Episode 2

Who should decide on whether funding for things like GM, nanotechnology, embryonic stem cell research or particle physics goes ahead? At the moment most of the money for science lies with the research councils, to whom scientists go cap in hand year after year. That's around 3 billion pounds of public money. So should the public have more of a say?

At the moment, it seems like trust in science is at a crossroads. Whilst increasingly we believe in the power of science to benefit society, a recent MORI survey suggested that over half of us are distrustful of scientists who "tamper with nature" and believe that "rules will not stop scientists doing what they want behind closed doors". Though we face global food and energy shortages and await the next mutated animal disease pandemic, barely a third of us believe that the benefits of research into things like GM, synthetic biology or nuclear power are worth the risks. But are we the people, able to best judge what road science should take?

In the second of two programmes, Geoff Watts looks at some of the role models for engagement, such as the Alzheimer's Society, where patients and carers have helped to direct research into new therapies and explores the argument that many of the paradigm-shifting developments in science were entirely unforeseen and might not have happened if researchers were shackled.

Producer: Rami Tzabar.

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28 minutes

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Wed 31 Jul 2013 21:00