Need Safeguards for Gene-Tinkered Foods

Jim Owens jow at helix.nih.gov
Wed Jun 23 16:04:36 EST 1993


In article <C933D9.37B at news2.cis.umn.edu> Art Eschenlauer,
eschen at molbio.cbs.umn.edu writes:
>I think that open minded discussion of this topic is merited, even though
>I feel that the risks are slight, in general. The 
>tryptophan disaster was *NOT* due to genetic engineering, but to the fact
>that competition caused the company to go into production without making
>
>sure that the product was pure; big mistake! We need time
>learn from such
>mistakes, however, so caution is definitely advised, although
>paranoia is not, IMHO.

Hear, hear!  I am afraid, however, that there are people on both sides
who are not interested in an open-minded discussion.  We will see them
refuse to budge from their prejudices as if God were on their side. 
Probably, the anti-biotech side will be unreasonable first but with
enough good points to keep them from looking like complete idiots.  Then,
the pro-biotech side will try to defend itself from the exaggerations of
the first and introduce some of its own.  The disussion will become
politicized and polarized.  Those in the middle will have to be awfully
strong in order to come to a reasonable resolution.  They will be accused
of betrayal of mankind from one side and betrayal of science from the
other.

There is a certain air of superiority among those of us in scientific and
technical fields that does not like criticism from those ignorant of our
work.  The public no longer accepts experts as infallible.  Therefore, we
need to take the fears generated by Jeremy Rifkin and his ilk seriously,
and not just as the rantings of the unwashed lest we and our works be
swept away in the tide of public reaction.

Sorry, to be so gloomy.  I guess I've been caught in the middle too often.

JIm Owens



More information about the Bioforum mailing list