Genetically Modified (GM) Food

Jim heartfield jim at
Sun Feb 28 03:49:09 PST 1999

In message <36D8111A.B9E3FDCE at>, Michael Perelman <michael at> writes

>Jim Heartfield's take on genetically modified food is indistinguishable from
>Monsanto's response.

Michael Perelman's response to me indistinguishable from the British Conservative Party's to Monsanto (or from the Catholic Church's response to Galileo, for that matter). So what? Either you have an argument or you don't. The capitalist makers of nicorettes tell me I should give up smoking, it doesn't mean that they are wrong because they are trying to make money out of it.

>One point: Monsanto's lawyers are going around threatening to sue printers
>and publishers who are distributing material that discusses science that
>disproves Monsanto's position. I can mention 3 cases: The Ecologist, Mark
>Lappe's book, and the television series on BgH.

Nobody has more reason to disapprove of the use of legal power to silence opponents than I, and Monsanto should be attacked for doing so. However, that does not show that the science is bad. The scientific journals are all pretty much agreed that there is nothing intrinsically more dangerous about GMO food than any other form of cross-pollination.

More to the point, most environmentalists here have quietly accepted that they overstated Pusztai's argument, and shifted their ground. The scepticism that says that 'because we can never know, therefore we must assume the worst' just takes it for granted that 'we will never know'.

The scientific community is trying to investigate GMOs, to find out what they can tell us. The environmentalists are trying to prevent that research. One side stands for enlarging our understanding, the other for ignorance. If the Scopes monkey trial were to happen again, the critics of GMOs would be on the side of creationism.

In message <v01540b00b2fe84b87ed7@[]>, shmage at writes

>Alteration of genes by deliberate manipulation of DNA is, as far as we can
>know, a completely new event in the evolutionary history of this planet,
>with absolutely unforeseeable consequences if allowed to proceed with no
>control except that by monopoly capitalists and their agents in the
>councils of government. An absolute moratorium on genetic modification of
>plants and (nonhuman) animals outside the laboratory, until political and
>economic institutions have been revolutionized to permit rational social
>deliberation and control over the process, should be an essential minimal
>demand for any radical movement worthy of the name.

Well, God forbid that anything should happen that hasn't been exactly the same as everything that happened before. Shane's environmentalism is a version of equilibrium theory, where nature's balance must never be upset. Like all equilibrium theory it is intrinsically conservative. -- Jim heartfield

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