I was delighted to read “Marmite may be brain food: Study” (5 April 2017) because the article brought home an important point about how we approach many of the issues – letting the science speak for itself.
Marmite, like many things in life is more than just an item that we eat. It is something that defines us in an emotional manner. You either love marmite or you loath it. Both sides have plenty of reasons to support their arguments and somehow, if one speaks to one side about the other’s argument, they will inevitably ignore the points that the other side is trying to make. Thankfully, in this instance, the science has been allowed to speak for itself – it has now been established that marmite will not harm you and may even be good for you. This fact won’t change the mind of those who loath marmite but it will allow people who enjoy marmite to do so without government interference.
Unfortunately, letting the science speak for itself is not an approach that applies to everything. Take the example of alcohol and cigarette consumption. Everyone agrees that alcohol and tobacco consumption are bad for you is bad for you and nobody complains when governments raise taxes of alcohol and tobacco and places restrictions on their consumption. Yet, despite all of the efforts to curb alcohol and tobacco consumption, those who love to smoke and drink continue to do so.
Surely the approach to alcohol and tobacco consumption is to “create” science to find a way that allows those who enjoy alcohol and tobacco consumption to continue to do so in a way that minimizes harm to the user and eliminates harm to innocent bystanders. If we can send people to the moon, surely, we can find a way for people to drink and enjoy the pleasures of drinking without the risk of them becoming a danger if they get behind the wheels of car. If we can get people to live underwater, surely, we can find a way for people to smoke without putting the rest of us at risk?
As much as the tobacco companies are unlikeable, they’re trying to come up with ways that that smokers can smoke without damaging the rest of us. Unfortunately, few governments around the world are trying to encourage the tobacco companies create science. Smoking remains an emotional issue guided by emotional responses.
There are, however, encouraging signs. New Zealand recently allowed the use of e-cigarettes in effort cut smoking rates and respected international bodies like the Royal College of Physicians in the UK have argued that science points out that this is the way to go.
One might argue that the science is not conclusive. However, instead of doing the draconian thing, surely the thing to do is to encourage all sides to create more science until there’s a clear direction. Both the tobacco and alcohol companies have made millions selling harm. Surely, its time they returned the money though investment in science and research to create better paying jobs for the rest of us.