> On the issue of GMO's I note a superb chapter "Genetics and Animal
> Welfare" by Temple Grandin and Mark J. Deesing in a book called
> Genetics and the Behaviour of Domestic Animals edited by Temple
> Grandin ISBN 0-12-295130-1.
This is extremely interesting to me, and I offer to pull out an
important point tucked inside of it (I'll tuck it back when I'm
done). The point relates to the GMO issue, and refers back to our
ongoing discussion of modes of knowing and varieties of science (< L.
/scire/, to know).
People who argue from a abstract reductionist (of whatever flavor)
standpoint for GMOs tend to offer simple-minded points of view.
(Examples later.) From my perspective, they especially could benefit
from reading Temple Grandin's work.
Those of us arguing for a more complex look at the GMOs/food issue
might check out the above reference then refer those folks to this
source. Another good source is her autobiography, whose title is
escaping me but is easily found via a search on her name, and Oliver
Sacks's essay on her in (and named) /An Anthropologist on Mars/.
To put it awkwardly, I often think of Grandin as the Barbara
McClintock of animal science: I remember McClintock getting slammed
by others for her use of intuition and her use of terms like "a
feeling for the organism" as an expression of her scientific method.
Some of the worst criticism of her came from those around whom she
thought circles, of course. Including one of her mentors, who was
soundly miffed when she once easily solved a problem he had thought
about for years to no resolution.
This further reminds me of the scientists who dismissed Rachel
Carson as a "tree worshipper" and "druid priestess" while ignoring
both her science and her syntheses. Apparently those terms were
insults in the 60s and implied an inability to think clearly--i.e.,
one cannot be a good scientist and also hang with god; god clearly
couldn't be a scientist since god was the head of religion; Man [yes,
Man] is the head of science, or maybe Prometheus is, but we don't
want to talk about him. Carson's critics stood outside of her vision
and knowing (ecology) and couldn't get in. So they claimed her
science was faulty, rather than their sensoria or palette of thinking
skills. (I don't understand it, therefore you're wrong. Or
This goes back to my point in the Occam's razor post: there are
scientists who drag around a straw-man "religion" (which gets
defined as anything involving forms of knowing which they, the
scientists, want to discredit) so they have something to burn when
the nights grow chilly in the castle of Rationalism. But I digress.
In Grandin's case, "feeling" isn't the right word in the conventional
sense, given that Grandin is autistic. Yet she somehow has greater
empathy with and understanding of the animals she works with than
"normal" (nonautistic, capable of "feeling") scientists whose
thinking hers has overturned. An interesting sociological
observation, with concrete implications: her insights have led her to
immense breakthroughs in animal science. An outstanding example of
that has been her work on the design of abbatoirs (slaughterhouses)
to reduce stress and terror in animals going to their deaths.
An excellent, deep lead, Alfred, thanks. I spent part of my weekend
reading Loren Eiseley's "How Flowers Changed the World" at the
marina in Port Washington and thinking about this issue of GMOs.
Douglas's comment about "you can't cheat evolution" ties in here.
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
In the end, they will lay their freedom at our feet
and say to us, 'Make us your slaves, but feed us.'
--the Grand Inquisitor, Dostoevsky
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