I was primarily concerned to refute Ali Tonak's drastic lie
>> Genetic engineering has taken place for hundreds of years by the farmers
>>of the world.
Herb Fox waives this point, deeming it 'unnecessary
polarization'. He is instead concerned to open up the issue of the term
'natural'. He particularly discourages reasoning along the lines
'unnatural = bad', on the principle
> To condemn a scientific tool or discovery because it is unnatural
>contradicts the very function of science.
Herb dislikes the idea of
>a society that condemns science because it does things that nature never did.
I don't know of any scientist who says gene-tampering is bad
*on account of* it's unnatural. The significance of the radical novelty of
the gene-insertion techniques now used is that they resemble little if at
all the natural DNA transfer processes. As would be expected, it turns out
that the properties of the tiny minority of cells that survive are not
predictable. This is because biology is unimaginably more complex than
technology. If the properties of, say, a pressurised-water nuclear reactor
are unforeseeable, when it was entirely designed in the human mind, we
should not be surprised that synthetic DNA coated onto micro-birdshot and
then blasted into a plant cell produces unforeseeable effects. What is
objectionable is - from a scientific viewpoint, as distinct from any
mysticism - the turning loose of GM organisms before most of the required
testing has been done. The unnaturalness of GM is not *inherently*
objectionable, but does imply that far, far more testing would be required
before any GMO could be prudently turned loose. It had not occurred to me
to spell this out, for a scientific audience; I hope it's now clarified. I
look fw with interest to hearing from anyone who thinks unnatural = bad; as
an inventor, I certainly don't.
As Herb says,
> A scientific/technological establishment responsible to and monitored by
>the people would expose all discoveries and innovations to thoroughgoing
>processes of evaluation.
The main complaint about GM so far is that nothing like that has
yet been done. Because GMOs are, generally, able to breed, turning them
loose thus entails a new order of pollution, a new kind of threat. Even
those GMOs that can't breed may throw novel pathogens.
The best sites I know of on this are www.psrast.org and
Herb & I are apparently in agreement that neither capitalism nor
communism has a good record in control of dangerous technologies. This was
my other main point against Tonak who had tried on the old Soviet line
'state ownership makes it safe when the greedy capitalists had failed to'.