Cites for "Need Safeguards for Gene-Tinkered Foods"

Malcolm Davis davis at
Tue Jun 29 09:24:09 EST 1993

In article <C9Cu15.KGI at> wcsbeau at (OPIRG) writes:

   In article <DAVIS.93Jun28115202 at> davis at (Malcolm Davis) writes:
   >In article <C97sr8.LHG at> wcsbeau at (OPIRG) writes:
   >>   In addition, Cummins sent along some other information including an
   >>   example of what he called a "typical trial approval from Agriculture
   >>   Canada". Condition #7 says "no alfalfa will be grown after the site
   >>   for 3 years after the harvest." Condition #8 says "all volunteer
   >>   plants will be destroyed before setting seed following the test",
   >>   and condition #9 is "no seed or harvested plant matter will enter
   >>   human or livestock food/feed chains". Cummins says that this points
   >>   out that AgCan realizes the risk of gene transfers.
   >This is an example of a wonderful no-win situation.  If AgCan were to
   >not take serious precautions, people, such as Dr. Cummins, would be
   >all over them for not being careful enough.  So to try to avert
   >argument, AgCan sets up conditions that should be unarguably
   >stringent.  The first group then points and says "Ah Ha! We told you
   >this was really dangerous.  If it weren't they wouldn't have taken
   >such precautions!"  The argument is fallacious.

   Only if one assumes your interpretation of what Cummins is saying is
   correct.  As I understand it, Cummins' point is that, if there was
   absolutely no possibility of gene transfer, then the precautions would be
   unncessary. Given the cost and bother involved, presumably AgCan
   thinks that, small though the possibility may be, it would be wise to
   take some precautions against it.

   I do not, of course, speak for Dr. Cummins here. I'm just assuming
   that the most reasonable interpretation of his words is what he meant.

   Reid Cooper

I agree that this is what Cummins is arguing, but I disagree with the
premis that no one would agree to precautions that they didn't think
might be necessary.  People routinely agree to things to just avoid
fighting over them.  In addition in today's litigous society if one
does not show the effort to totally, absolutely, completely rule out
problems, then one is often open for costly legal battles over
"effects" which could not possibly be ones fault.

Malcolm Davis

(Of course these opinions are my own. Who else would want them?)
Malcolm E. Davis

USMail: Macromolecular Modeling
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