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Conversations with the President, Part 2: A Dream Wherein I Lectured Him About Genetic Engineering November 3, 2013

Posted by angryscientist in Bad Science.
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I had a dream this morning, which I’m recounting to the best of my recollection. I went to a fund raising event where the President was giving his spiel about research creating good high-tech jobs, and I heckled him, yelling genetic engineering was an example of the research he was supporting that does more harm than good. He looked amused, though some security goons glared at me, and went on. Later he was taking questions one on one. He noticed me lurking around and beckoned to me, asking if I had a question I’d like to ask him, so I gave him a piece of my mind, then I stalked off intending to blog about it. I was about to do that when I woke up.

I told him, genetic engineering is a hoax. These companies whose research you tout are making piles of money off these crops they invented and patented, and for what? It sure as hell isn’t doing consumers any good.

He interrupted me and said, the onus is on the companies to come up with new varieties of crops that will benefit folks. These varieties have already gone a long way to help feed starving people all over the world. They are improving crops for the betterment of mankind just as farmers have always done.

I said, that’s what they want us to believe. There hasn’t been an increase in yield, or decrease in the use of chemicals, despite their claims to the contrary. They aren’t helping feed the world. That’s just public relations propaganda to fool the public while they laugh all the way to the bank. They’ve got friends in high places, so the bureaucrats who are supposed to protect people wink, nod, and look the other way. Their attitude is just like you said, these crops are equivalent to the old varieties, so what’s the big deal? These genetic engineering companies are trying to take over agriculture, buying out or destroying the competition. Organic farming is the way to go. Organic food is better quality, more nutritious, and doesn’t poison the planet. The genetic engineers claim their inventions are safe, that they have been studied extensively and there’s no evidence of danger. They cherry picked the evidence. They covered up and tried to discredit studies showing organ damage and cancer in test animals. What if that’s happening to people? What if this causes an epidemic of cancer when it’s too late to do anything about it? Is that what you want your legacy to be?

Then I figured I had said enough and stalked off. He did seem to listen, though he was rolling his eyes, shaking his head in disbelief, and apparently trying not to laugh. He tries to maintain an image of being open-minded and willing to listen, but at least on this issue, nobody’s going to change his mind; there are plenty of alleged scientists out there who are telling him genetic engineering is the future, and he believes them. The state of Washington is about to vote on an initiative to label food containing genetically engineered ingredients similar to the bill narrowly defeated in California last year, thanks to tons of industry loot funding commercials full of lies and distortions to scare the voters. Let’s hope the voters in Washington don’t get fooled again. And no, I don’t think Obama is quite the same as the old boss Bush, but he’s too close to it for me, and on this issue, almost all the politicians are of one mind, buying the industry line hook, line, and sinker. My Senator Barbara Boxer is sponsoring a bill for mandatory labeling, but that bill has a snowball’s chance in hell.

Fortunately people and politicians in many other countries aren’t so trusting of this technology, and even plenty of Americans say they wouldn’t buy these foods if they were labeled, not realizing almost every processed food not labeled organic already contains the fruits of genetic engineering. People don’t like being used as experimental test subjects, but unwittingly or not, they are. The industry hopes people won’t wake up until it is too late to do anything about it. Organic and conventional crops have already been compromised by drifting pollen, so slowly but surely, the gene pool is getting contaminated. It might be worth it if the benefits really outweighed the risks, but in this case, there are no benefits, except for genetic engineering companies and big agribusiness, and the risks, so cavalierly downplayed and dismissed by American scientists and regulatory watchdogs, are staggering and unknowable. But that’s how it goes when science is used for profit instead of truly benefiting people.