Genetic engineering is a Good Thing?

Roger Whitehead rgw at
Thu Oct 1 07:29:00 EST 1998

In article <3612D6ED.58ACAFCA at>, Dean Ronn wrote:
> Finally, a man of reason. I retail agriculture products [snip]

Interesting. Let us, as the linguists say, deconstruct that message.

[Start of analysis]

> Finally, a man of reason.

At last, someone who shares my viewpoint.

> I retail agriculture products in Saskatchewan,

I'm a seed merchant in a prairie province of Canada,

> and I see all of the successes as well as failures in my particular
> area.

and I'm in touch with local farming activities and can assess them - in farming 
terms, anyway.

> The Round-Up Ready technology has absolutely caught on like wild fire
> with our producers growing canola.

Local rape growers are buying a lot of Monsanto's (and possibly other makers') 
new bioengineered seed.

> Your so right about actually decreasing the spraying of chemicals to
> control weeds in this particular crop.

I'm suggesting (but not actually stating) that, as a result, these purchasers are 
either using fewer artificial herbicides or that they are using smaller amounts 
of them, or possibly both things. However, I offer no evidence in support of this 

> Anybody that disagrees with this should compare some chemicals in a
> W.H.M.I.S. manual where they'll find that glyphosate is a very safe
> chemical in comparison with the fops, trifuralins, ethofuralins, ulfonic
> ureas, etc.

I am now introducing new and logically unrelated material. I am (somewhat 
aggressively) suggesting that members of this list consult the manual for the 
Canadian national scheme for controlling workplace hazards.

Although this manual only carries information about the health risks to farmers 
and their employees of handling the chemicals I list, I hope that members of this 
list will be persuaded that its recommendations somehow constitute proof that 
bioengineered seeds are safer for the consumer and less harmful to the natural 
environment. (The manual, in fact, contains no information about these farmers' 
changed spraying activities or the wider consequences thereof.)

> Do I dare say that whoever is making these statements doesn't farm and can't
> see things through a farmer's eyes?

Despite having no actual knowledge one way or the other, I am saying that the 
(unspecified) person making these (unspecified) statements is not a farmer. 
Because of this, he is unable to see things from that viewpoint. 

Here, I am implying two things - that only farmers can see things from their 
perspective and that the farmer's perspective is the most important and, 
the only valid one.

I am also hinting that the statements of scientists, especially government 
scientists, are invalid or worthless. (In so doing, I am ignoring the fact that 
the publication upon which I base my main argument is compiled from data supplied 
by the agrochemical suppliers' scientists, under the supervision of the Canadian 
government's scientists.)

{End of analysis]

Well, Dean, I hope you'll forgive me for saying that, if this message is 
representative of the farmers' line of argument, the public is right to remain 
suspicious. Aside from its logical weaknesses, it is all about what's good for 
the farmer.



PS By the way, when replying to or commenting on a message, there is no need to 
quote all of it _and_ the earlier message. Just a couple of lines will suffice.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Roger Whitehead,
14 Amy Road, Oxted, Surrey RH8 0PX, England
(Tel +44 (0)1883 713074; fax +44 (0)1883 716793)

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