If definitive evidence is developed showing that the genetically engineered
crops now available have absolutely no adverse consequences on human
would this be good or bad news?
--- on 12/23 INTERNET:WLockeretz@infonet.tufts.edu wrote: ---
Because several responders to an earlier question I posed said that it was
impossible to prove the absence of a health effect, let me refine the
question, and invite responses:
If a systematic, comprehensive, well-planned and well-executed effort by
a broad team of highly qualified and indisputably unbiased investigators,
are given time and money in amounts commensurate with the task, finds no
evidence of any adverse human health effects from recently available
genetically engineered crops, would this be good or bad news?
----- On 12/28 INTERNET:YankeePerm@aol.com wrote: ------
<<I find myself wondering more every day if the particular people on this
are people with whom I have anything to say or whose (censored) comments
something I want cluttering up my mail box. Agriculture is rapidly
destroying several bases of life such as soil, water, air (dust and
habitat, etc. And we have some blankity blank person suggest a
problem to discuss and he is actually taken seriously. this is idiocy. It
is offensive. It is unrelated to the issues that make all agriculture as
practiced unsustainable. If you don't have something useful to say about
real problems, don't make up some, please. This is brain pollution and it
---On 12/28 Stuart Brown, INTERNET:firstname.lastname@example.org
<<If I may be so bold, I think what he wishes to know is; do you have a
fundamental objection to genetic engineering per se ? And if so why ?
Or is it only specific cases and some current methods ?
<<I think he wishes to know where you are coming from.
I've been watching this conversation with interest.
On the one hand, Dan, while I appreciate your passion, I feel much more
progress would occur if you could state your differing view without putting
others down with such vehemence. Discussing content without invalidation
and personal attacks makes conversations so much more enjoyable and
fruitful! If we can't influence those who see differently than us, no
change can occur in the world. And to influence others, we must be open to
what the world looks like from their point of view - i.e., we must be
willing to be influenced. To attack is to have others fight or shut up,
but to stop true conversation that can move things forward. That is why I'm
committed to conversations that allow diverse viewpoints - *if* they are
communicated based on facts and ideas, not attacks. That to me is
consistent with being sustainable, connected to Spirit and heart, and other
values I've heard you discuss, and I feel is just as vital to creating a
happy world as not using pesticides is.
On the other hand, I do feel that the original question was weird and
obviously biased (even in it's rewritten form) - basically in the "if pigs
had wings" category and seeming to want to prove some assumption about our
predisposition to be against genetic engineering (GE), rather than move
forward a real conversation that might do good in the world.
Sure, if all those conditions could be met we'd be having a different
conversation. But those conditions are *not* being met and that is vital
to those of us with concerns about GE. The corporations/U.S. government
are not waiting til we have perfect knowledge before tinkering with the
basis of life! Like so many other corporate ag experiments, it's being
thrown out into the world after brief analysis and then the (easily
predictable) problems are being found - "oh sorry, oops!" Well, some people
feel that this experimentation on human populations needs to stop. Haven't
we learned anything from history???
Every person in this country has DDT in their bodies, it's in the north
pole, its links to breast cancer (for instance) are strong - and the
corporations made money from it without compensating those who harmed -
while we argue among ourselves about who should pay for and who should get
the expensive medical resources for the diseases caused (that then give
profits to often the same corporations). What population would continue to
play that game, where they keep being the losers without compensation....?
There are real existing tangible reasons to be concerned about/against
genetic engineering just by looking at today's GE "products" such
already-proven problems like:
- allergic reactions (to the inserted gene, ex. nuts),
- supporting increased use of pesticides (Roundup on soybeans),
- increased pest resistance to pesticides (by their foolish prophylactic
use in corn and cotton, e.g. Bt, that literally trains the pest to adapt)
and thus it's failure as a tool (more money for the pesticide company, not
necessarily good for the farmer, consumer, or anyone else),
- increased illness in livestock (rGBH; meeting an individual farmer's
goals of more output by causing unncessary suffering in the animals in
their care - in a market that already has too much milk), and
- risking transferring antibiotic-resistant bacteria to human populations
(thus rapidly increasing the trend toward antibiotic failures and people
dying of previously curable diseases).
- And now the news that these tinkered toys might not even work (e.g. GE
Bollgard failures on cotton)!! (Of course, Monstanto had another pesticide
they could buy to solve that problem - rather than taking responsibility
for the failure of their promises and "making good" by providing the new
How much more horrifying does this have to get to be taken as a real
problem that requires real thinking rather than some theoretical exercise?
To turn the question around, "If it were shown that genetic engineering
puts our population and DNA at risk, would this be good or bad news?" This
shows the bias of the question. It's happening, and it's not good news!
How bad does it have to get to be taken seriously? And will it be
reversible at that point, once the new DNA is integrated into our ecosystem
and food supply?
And even without this overwhelming evidence there are two more reasons many
intelligent people are deeply concerned about/against GE products:
(1) We are tinkering with DNA, the source of life, the source of the food
we need to survive. We are crossing species that would otherwise have no
way of being combined! But there is still much we don't know about nature
and DNA and the inter-relationships of ecosystems. We are taking this huge
risk with our very survival armed with a huge lack of knowledge. Before
doing such a thing with the fate of the entire global ecosystem, there
should be a darned good reason, and there should be free discussion and
choice about whether we really want to take that risk.
(2) The history of corporations hiding the truth about the harm of their
products, suppressing those who would say it, suppressing democracy to be
able to continue their actions, putting products out that are harmful and
doing all they can to avoid responsibility (liability), refusing to let
customers have the info they need to "vote" at the grocery store, etc. does
not lead me to blindly accept their assertion that they are doing this from
some Mother Theresa desire to save the world, or that they are adequately
weighing costs and benefits to anyone but the corporation. Just as if they
were a 13year old teenager on hormones, I wouldn't give them the keys to
the family car on Saturday night without some serious consideration!
Rather than true conversation about our goals, the best way to reach them,
and what risks we want to take, we get government officials acting as
cheerleaders for the chemical companies biased justification for taking
huge risks to the entire global ecosystem ("Um, we're going to feed the
world, yeah, that's it..."). Instead of conversation and choice, we're
told "this is the future" and we should accept it. Instead of real
analysis, policy is driven by unproven assertions that can easily be
seriously challenged (How exactly does being allowed to use more toxins
feed the hungry....? Even if a tenuous link can be shown, is that really
the best path to that goal?) Corporate visions dominate and are supported
by our government - for such corporate welfare is said to be in the
interest of this nation (while the corporations respond with no such
loyalty to this country, abandoning their workers for countries led by
dictators and few worker and environmental protections) - but, on the other
hand, people welfare and food stamps that actually *do* feed the hungry are
"too expensive" for us to afford.
I could give many more examples of reasons that I just don't see the
evidence that corporations are our benevolent benefactors that should be
given control over (and ability to then patent) the very source of life.
So, though I support people like William in asking the questions they feel
are appropriate, I too am more interested in conversation that doesn't
completely ignore the evidence about the true threats to sustainable
ag/ecosystems and has some intention to constructively discuss how we might
shift this world's path away from the harmful hugely-risky corporate path
to one where the wisdom of natural systems is treated with respect and
something to learn from, not tinker with foolishly.
Hope these thoughts are useful -