The increase in the number of dolphins in the waters of Mallorca, Spain has a double meaning. What for environmentalists is presented as an environmental triumph, in fishermen becomes a nightmare. Denounce the damage cause by dolphins in their nets and ask the Balearic Government to authorize the use of deterrent devices to prevent looting.
What most people don’t know, that they should, is that practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food. There are no wild seedless watermelons, there’s no wild cows, there’s no long-stem roses growing in the wild …
We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals, that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them. It’s called artificial selection. That’s how we genetically modify them. So now that we can do it in a lab, all of a sudden, you’re going to complain?
So we are creating and modifying the biology of the world to serve our needs. I don’t have a problem with that because we’ve been doing that for tens of thousands of years. So, chill out.
I like Tyson as much as the next science enthusiast, but he is being deliberately obtuse and clouding the issue here.
Have you ever watched Orphan Black? Or any other sci fi / speculative fiction about the moral quandaries of patenting biological life? Have you seen the way intellectual property works in the pharmaceutical industry when life-saving drugs can’t be rolled out to people in time?
It’s the fact that if you buy a GMO plant, you can’t legally take cuttings from it or propagate it by seed, even when it is fertile or able to be cultivated asexually. You purchase the means of production, but a legal restriction that patents the genes of that plant prevents you from ever re-using it or re-sowing it, even if you have the competency or need to do so.
Also you risk gene flow into other populations when you grow it. GMOs have also contributed to pesticide resistance, and an increase in secondary pests among common crops like cotton and corn. These phenomena are well-documented, and not at all the ravings of a mad suburbanite going on about tumours in rats. There is also very little evidence of the promised improved harvests.
I think most people could get behind responsible genetic engineering, but right now it’s in the hands of some lawsuit happy multinationals, and it’s intimately tied with outmoded monoculture farming practices, that have proven again and again to be harmful to biodiversity and habitats.
I’m no luddite: I’d actively call myself a futurist and a transhumanist. I usually welcome change, but I usually fall in the anti-GMO camp because I support open-source technology and I oppose patents on biological organisms that can reproduce. It’s hardly the unscientific stance it’s been made out to be, and I don’t think it should be dismissed out of hand, especially by someone like Tyson who is being deliberately dishonest about the chasm between selective breeding and genetic engineering.
Hell, I saw you are against hybridising snakes because of ethical issues. Some people have ethical reasons to oppose handing over the future of the world’s food supply to a few multinationals.
I love science, and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awed by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and reinvigorate it