Need Safeguards for Gene-Tinkered Foods

HAURIE Xavier hauriex at divsun.unige.ch
Tue Jun 22 12:21:44 EST 1993


As a matter of principle, I wish to show some support to OPIRG's warning against 
the dangers linked to genetic tinkering. First, Larry R. Erickson questionned
OPIRG's "unbiasedness" on the wrong grounds, I believe. Let me cite him and
then explain:

>    It's not that there aren't serious social, economic and ethical
> issues associated with the genetic engineering of plants and animals,
> but it's obvious why Joe Cummins is excluded from many of these
> debates or hearings on these issues in Canada. By posting this kind
> of science fiction from Dr. Cummins and inviting "...people NOT
> trained in these areas..." to enter the debate, OPIRG is showing
> incredible bias, which prompts me to ask how they define "research"
> and in whose "interest" they are doing research.

Dr. Cummings is RIGHT, in my view, to invite people NOT trained in the area
of genetic "tinkering" to join the debate. These people are the consumers of
the tinkerd products, for one thing, and they will be the ones affected by 
any side effects of tinkering. But moreover, Dr. Cummings pretends there is
a threat to the ecological environment, and this should make EVERYONE concerned.
We are all consumers of the environment! Now Dr. Cummings may be wrong, and that
is what exactly Mr. Erickson should be focusing on, trying to disprove Dr. Cummings
claims. THAT is, I believe, the proper attitude. After having read Dr. Cummings
detailed explanations and Mr. Erickson groundless attacks, I am more enclined to
believe Dr. Cummings. Now OPIRG may have strong biases against anything that has
to de with industry (and I don't believe that either), but still their interest
is PUBLIC interest isofar as they seek to solve problems that THEY think may 
affect the public at large.


Now, to Paul Schlosser blind belief in the market.
Here he goes:

> Just as organic growers proudly label their produce that way, I'm
> sure that 'non-tinkered' growers will do the same, so that even if
> it is not required that 'tinkered' produce be labeled, it will 
> become quickly the case that anything not labelled 'non-tinkered'
> will be assumed to be 'tinkered' - giving the consumers an informed
> choice without the necessity of govnmt. regulation.  Market
> competition will then determine what consumers want & will accept.

Mr. Schlosser, I am sorry to inform you that theories of the Market 
suppose that information on that market is perfect. If the consumers
are to decide, through a market mechanisms, which products are "good"
or "bad" for their health and for the environement, then they must be 
informed about WHAT exactly they consume. So far Dr. Cummings has 
been the only person to contribute to informing the public about
tinkered food. 
Now if you believe that Dr. Cummings' analysis of the problem is biased,
you must tell the public WHY. Then the consumers will have a less biased
information of the problem and will be able to decide.


Give PIRG a chance. Help them.

Xavier Haurie.



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