The following article was originally circulated in 2001 to my distribution list. Although many new developments have arisen to show the increasingly sinister extent of this undeniably new and unproven science, the article still stands today to highlight some basic aspects of this vast topic.
As a common theme with many such subjects, regardless of where you stand on the relative merits of genetic engineering, the question remains as potent as ever - does anyone have the right to inflict their opinions on another in such a way as to take away their freedoms of choice?
For those who have become increasingly aware of the role of food and nutrition in their health, few things can be more important than ensuring the future availability of our food supply. In this sense, I do not believe this is a political subject, but a question of our freedom and right to good health.
Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM) is a process by which genetic material from the DNA of one species of plant, animal, or human is spliced into the DNA of a different species in order to modify the nature of that species. Specifically, the term is applied to situations where nature has otherwise refused to allow such combinations to occur through natural selection and even deliberate cross-breeding attempts. In other words, Genetic Engineering seeks specifically to override the protective mechanisms of nature to cause mutations that could never occur otherwise.
"Due diligence" may be regarded as political-speak for going through the motions to give the appearance that the views of all interested parties have been considered before the same decision that was always going to be made is finally announced. It helps create the illusion that the decision-makers actually care about the people affected by the decision and its long term consequences.
As you read below, please consider what action you can take to ensure more than due diligence is taken. Genetic Engineering must be regarded with extreme suspicion, as the potential consequences are astronomic in proportion and it is clear that there are already countless examples of "due diligence" being a sham.
The very name "Engineering" suggests that the process is quite scientific and controllable. This is far from the truth. While a great deal of knowledge is required to work in this field, the results of this work are quite random, immeasurable, and unpredictable. Proponents and investigators in this field don't generally see it this way, they see it as quite measurable and controllable, although the evidence to the contrary is by their own admission.
To simplify the process for you, essentially a virus (which has the ability and tendency to attack or invade genetic material and make it its own) is given a segment of donor DNA which goes "piggyback" on the virus into the DNA. If the DNA survives the viral attack and if the donor DNA latches onto the original DNA in the right spot (a random occurrence) then you have successfully genetically modified an organism. The problem is knowing what effect the modification will cause, since the system is somewhat hit-and-miss as the virus will not target or unload its passenger in a specific area.
Only a tiny fraction of the genetic material within a human cell (only the shortest chromosome of 23 pairs), for example, has been fully mapped. Small though it is in humans and plants, this mapping has produced vast quantities of information. It is the vastness of this information that has in part lulled researchers into a false sense of security that they now know what they are doing. Any deliberate attempts to change the known chromosomes can be measured, but undesirable changes to the remaining majority of chromosomes which are far more complex cannot yet be measured, thus it is assumed that if changes can't be seen, they don't exist.
The position taken by the Genetic Engineering Industry amounts to intellectual arrogance, since their two principal defences are fatally flawed: they are incapable of measuring the effects of what they are doing, and they cannot guarantee that the modified organisms will not be released into the environment or that they can control the future interaction of the modified organisms with nature.
As each trial of genetically modified plant goes ahead (those few that are publicised), it is generally proclaimed that all precautions have been taken to ensure that no pollen or other plant material will be allowed into the general environment. I might add, that for every trial that we know about, there are many more that are kept shrouded in even greater secrecy, thus the illusion is maintained that public scrutiny is being facilitated while secret agendas are pursued.
The normal test procedure for planting such crops is to provide a 6 metre exclusion zone, between GE crops and normal crops, so that no cross-contamination can occur. Yet it is routinely known that pollen may be carried by air for several hundred metres, and 5km or more by bees, either to other plants or into the hive to become part of the honey we eat. There is currently no control of this and from this one source alone, there can be no guarantee that we are not already "passively" consuming quantities of GE foods nor that nature is not already interacting and being changed.
Furthermore, it is known that the pollen of pine trees, because of their height and the ridgetop locations they often occupy may travel at least 500km! Consider also that the process by which plant material finds its way from one island and even from one continent to another through bird droppings and driftwood, etc is well known and is partly responsible for the current level of biodiversity that exists today. The idea of containment being ensured by a 6 metre exclusion zone would be laughable if the various regulatory authorities hadn't blindly swallowed the claims of the industry. This is yet another example of how industry has learnt and successfully employed the techniques of the rhetoric of "due diligence" to get its own way while appearing to act responsibly.
The consequences of misadventure in this area are transparently clear, although brushed off as if an irrational fear of progress. There is a very real danger of destroying the food supply of animals and humans alike which could spell the end of life on the planet. To put this risk into perspective, it is necessary to consider one aspect of GE technology called terminator technology.
This is the process by which genetically modified seeds can produce a plant, but which is itself sterile and cannot produce viable seeds to grow another plant. This is a process by which the industry claims genetically modified organisms can be contained, yet which ultimately ensures intellectual property of the seeds and plants so that a royalty must be effectively paid to the industry for every plant grown. It also creates dependence on the industry since one can no longer save their seeds and grow more plants. Each year, one must buy new seeds and pay a new royalty.
While the industry says the intention "by design" is not for the sterile nature of these organisms to be transmitted into other plants through cross-pollination or other means, there is as yet insufficient knowledge and track record to show this will not occur. In fact, there are already many counter-examples showing that it can and does occur.
The consequence of plant after plant becoming sterile is that biodiversity becomes decimated and only those crops which the industry chooses to supply will exist. What of the myriad grasses, weeds, plants, and trees that the industry does not choose to supply (many of which have great herbal properties and are essential links in the food chain of countless species of animal and insect)? Biodiversity is the great strength of nature that allows it to survive any catastrophe; where one plant cannot survive, another that fulfils its role can flourish.
Man has an indisputable track record of destroying ecosystems by intervening or introducing new life forms where they otherwise did not exist. While this has generally occurred historically in a localised way, man is now designing and using methods by which the global destruction of the ecosystem and possibly all natural life may easily be achieved. The future of the world's food supply is definitely at risk here and in no uncertain terms.
Of course it is not all bad. There are a lot of jobs and money to be made through this destruction. Think of all the extra pesticides that can be sold and applied to the food chain by creating pesticide-resistant plants. Think of all the doctors, hospitals, and medical researchers that will be kept in their jobs by attending to the sick. Think of all the "good" that can be done by selling third world countries high-yield wheat, rice, or potato seeds (which incidentally have generally been shown to produce smaller yields than organically grown crops) and more pesticides so more food can get to market to be sold overseas (while farmers starve on their own land) so that more seeds can be bought. Never mind, we'll buy the land off them (not that it's worth much to us, but we'll do them a favour). Of course, we have no use for farming the land, it's not economically viable...
Some political commentators have suggested that one eventual consequence of the increased urbanisation of farmlands which is rapidly accelerated by the use of genetically modified crops is the eventual necessity for a one-world food bank to supply those who can no longer supply themselves (not so easy when you have no land of your own and you have to buy the seeds that nature used to give you for free).
So-called "free trade" between countries is also a problem here since buying and selling food (through a middleman of course) discourages the ethic of self-sufficiency. Free trade is of course necessary if one wishes to have such important things as colour television sets, DVD's, Italian shoes, and a monthly subscription to Sports Illustrated. Loss of connection with the land is already a reality for most modern people and will likely continue to be for some time to come. The pressures of urban living help create the continuance of those pressures which require greater urbanisation. This is no secret to those who profit from urbanisation.
Is Genetic Engineering Morally Correct?
This is probably the largest issue at stake here, the question of whether we have any business as humans in manipulating life. This is not unlike the Biblical references to Satan's failed attempts to create life in his own image. Man is now paving the way to this same goal. In fact, the way is not being paved, the deed has already been done.
Thirty years ago when people were first publicly speculating about the moral issues of genetic engineering, it was said that it would be carefully controlled under government auspices, public scrutiny and debate, and only for the good of mankind, etc. However, the reality is that intellectual curiosity and corporate interests have total control of this arena behind closed doors. The government and public are only privy to propaganda about genetic engineering. The reality is that experiments in genetic engineering are being conducted in most universities in the world at one level or another and that a multitude of corporates with different interests are conducting privately funded research with the object of developing something for private profit. Any public scrutiny or government control can only be very much after the fact in these circumstances. The cart is already before the horse.
As an example of how a moral line has been irrevocably crossed, human genes have already been inserted into cow DNA to make them produce milk more like human milk to feed infant humans. Some would say that this is moving into the realm of cannibalism. Others would say that the sacredness of human life and consciousness has been violated by merging it with animal life and animal consciousness. Meanwhile, someone else out there is saying, "I can sell this."
Please don't take this lightly. If you would allow your child to drink so-called humanised milk from a cow with human DNA, would you allow your child also to eat the flesh of that humanised cow? While some will say in their defence that the line is very vague, I would say the line is very clear and has been comprehensively crossed.
There are many virtues proclaimed for genetic engineering that are used to sell the general principle, such as its potential use for curing various medical disorders, an increasing number of which are becoming recognised as being genetically influenced. Indeed, the consciousness and the karmic burden of man are clearly reflected in his genetic structure, for "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." While each person is free to choose their own course of treatment, it should be considered that medical intervention at such a level is still not addressing the underlying cause and may be taking away the very experience needed for individual progress. Unfortunately, man has not yet grown into sufficient responsibility to be taking such matters into their own hands. At any rate, the promise of health and longevity are amongst the carrots being dangled before us to sell us the double-edged sword of our destruction.
The aspects of genetic engineering presented here are but the tiniest tip of the iceberg but I am not calling for the dissolution of society. Nevertheless I encourage you all to take some action now in whatever way seems appropriate to you. Please feel free to forward this email to your friends, but please do so in its entirety.
Additional information about genetic engineering can be found at the Greenpeace website, from the Soil and Health Association, the Green Party, NZ Health Trust website and various publications (naturally, many of which represent the industry's views since they have the money to finance such publications and research).
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