Introductory text (Concept paper) Freedom from prejudice, abandoning the principle of authority as a strategy for solving controversies and opening up to critical confrontation based on controllable experiences are at the origin of modern science. They made possible cognitive progress and technological innovations for which the western world has moved ahead culturally, economically and politically. In practice modern science has created the intellectual and material conditions for the development of democracy. Paradoxically, in democratic societies today scientific research is threatened by the unfit and senseless attempt to make science more “democratic”, in reality aiming to subject it to designs of an ideological and fundamentalist nature, often starting from an abusive use of religious obligations. The objective of those claiming to work for a more “democratic” science is not at all the one, to be hoped for, of improving scientific literacy, making citizens aware of the cultural range of scientific knowledge and the effectiveness of the methods used to control and disclose the impact of a new applicatory procedure. Their objective would actually allow that evaluations based on undemonstrated opinions dictated by cultural prejudices and misunderstandings – or by political projects of generalised impositions of fideistic beliefs – would prevail over those founded on objective analysis in political decisions. In practice, the results already acquired, and those within reach of science, which politics should enhance and publicise among citizens through education and popularisation, are questioned. While faith in scientists decreases, and there are more frequent episodes of political censure and manipulation of science on matters such as food derived from genetically modified plants, research on human embryos, and climate changes, with respect to which various religious, ethical and political appreciations enter in play. In fact, there are countless episodes of censure and manipulation of science and technology found in recent decades in various western countries. Often such projects transform – obviously with significant differences from country to country – into positive rights and into government policies that, rather than placing limits on applicative technologies, actually prohibit the very progression of research, i.e. knowledge. These are phenomena which, as in the past, are not the consequence of a totalitarian political framework. In actual fact, they manifest themselves above all in the countries where democracy is more advanced. In a society where economic well-being and the enjoyment of civil rights are most widespread, a critical, suspicious attitude towards science and technological innovations tends to prevail. An attitude which is used by politicians to reduce researchers’ margins of freedom, determining as a result the restriction of prospects for economic development and the opportunities for citizens to realise their natural aspirations for reproduction, treating disease and improving health. Over the past thirty years, in the more scientifically advanced countries, the communities of scientists have implemented various communication strategies to sensitise public opinion about the importance of science to the social role, and therefore guarantee the political conditions necessary to continue carrying on research. The results of the various experiences are not easy to read, and it does not seem completely clear how to proceed to improve the perception of science and the diffusion of scientific literacy for a more effective exercise of political choice by citizens. The first meeting of the “World Congress for Freedom of Research” intends to promote a confrontation on the status of the relationship between science and society, in particular between science and politics, and on the possible initiatives to undertake in the various countries. The purpose is to try to understand which factors in the various geopolitical contexts are at the origin of the spreading of a perception – intentionally fed and publicised from several parts – of science as a threat to man and the environment, and how politics intervenes. It is a matter of trying to understand whether we face specific and circumscribed phenomena, from which general conclusions cannot be taken, or whether constants can be identified. If, for example, different levels of comfort, and therefore different expectations, can explain the differing attitudes of the citizens of European countries towards science and technology. If the crisis of trust in scientists depends on errors in their ways of communicating and presenting themselves to society or on political delays in adapting education and training to the need for making understood how science functions, not just its results. And what is the role and range of fundamentalist and prohibitionist forces, in the political and religious field, in explicitly and deliberately restraining the progress of knowledge and freedom of conscience. In this context, a confrontation is necessary and should involve both the political and scientific world towards the role of science and politics, on a local or international level, in order to re-launch the function of the first as an indispensable resource for the latter in the governing the human problems as well as those of the environment. Starting from this confrontation any proposals for actions, even ordinary ones, even at a transnational level should be evaluated.