Debates about scientific issues are often very heated and bring in many emotions and opinions which are poles apart, as these studies often effect patients or consumers directly. The longest and most wide spread debate I know of is the one on GM crops.
Technology that can genetically modify food crops to increase food quality as well as medical applications seems like a good idea to me but not to everyone. The stance that messing with the genes of plants would affect other organisms of the environment is help by strongly by groups such as Take the Flour Back. In 2012 around 400 anti-GM protesters tried to destroy Britain’s first open air trail of aphid resistant crops causing a re-emergence of the argument.
The other big scientific debate that has occurred in my life time was on the use of embryonic stem cells for research and to treat disease. This holds huge ethical issues as it uses fertilized human embryos that could have the potential to become a baby. This topic has not only split the scientific community against the general public but it has split people on a moral basis, which is the reason for the tight regulation of the required licence for this type of research in the UK. New technology such as iPSC’s may hold the answer for using stem cells from a non-embryo source.
We need debates like this is get the opinion of the public, but in the past has this hindered research significantly?