Between fear and confidence

Terrorism, climate change and now a pandemic – worries and fears shape the everyday lives of many people. The latest issue of the Science Magazine BfR2GO from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is dedicated to fear, while at the same time embarking on a search for confidence. Scientists from many spheres have their chance to speak and categorise the concepts in a clear way. “Fear is vital for survival; it warns us about hazards. But we all tend to overestimate risks in a state of fear”, explains BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. “Crises require solution-orientated decisions instead of those driven by fear.” Regular surveys, such as the BfR Corona Monitor, help to include the population’s concerns in research and communication. It is not just coronaviruses that cause fear: one topic that concerns many of us is, for example, plant protection products. Some fear that the products could drift from the field and damage our health. Experts explain how this is assessed from a scientific point of view in the new BfR2GO.

Our society has been in a kind of permanent state of alert since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The BfR uses this exceptional situation as an opportunity to discuss how risks and their perception control certain areas of our lives. On the one hand, fear is considered to be an innate survival system that warns humans and animals of acute hazards. On the other hand, fear is not a good advisor: it should not be the only basis for making decisions. Experts from the fields of psychology, sociology and philosophy show individual and societal ways of dealing with fear, providing scope for confidence. Professor Dr. Maren Urner, media psychologist at the University of Applied Sciences for Media, Communication and Economics in Cologne, explains in an interview in the Science Magazine BfR2GO how media can provide solutions in crises without resorting to pessimism.

Another topic in the eighth issue of BfR2GO: allergies. They are a growing health problem, especially in industrialised countries. Allergenic substances in everyday products are abundant and the mechanisms in the body complex. The article on this explains the diverse reactions of the immune system and sheds light on the challenges for science.

Also in the new BfR2GO: where listeria hides in food, what coronaviruses have in common with microplastics, what consumers should pay attention to when it comes to their iodine supply and how “organoids” just a few millimetres in size can help replace animal experiments.

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Compact and packed to the brim with knowledge, the BfR2GO science magazine provides up-to-date and well-founded information about research and the assessment of this research in consumer health protection and about the protection of laboratory animals. Each issue presents a topic focusing on one of the BfR’s current fields of work. Moreover, there are reports, interviews and information from all areas of the BfR’s work.

The science magazine BfR2GO is published twice a year in German and English. It is published on the BfR website and can be downloaded free of charge or ordered directly. In addition, those interested can register for a free subscription:


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About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

This part of information is sourced from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-07/bfif-bfa070121.php