23 April 2018

More thoughts on "GMO"

The science of genetic modification is proceeding apace. It's public perception that's lagging. I understand people's justifiable anger at Monsanto for its monopolistic tactics and its blindness to the dangers of things like GMO to make plants "roundup ready..." with all of the unintended and adverse consequences that entails (for example). But the fact remains that directed adaptation through gene science is already a functioning scientific endeavor. There's no stopping it. What needs to be done is to figure out how to make sure it's done right. Just ignorant rejection of all genetic modification of food plants isn't going to do it; in fact it will play into the hands of those who would manipulate the science in the interests of nothing but greed. 

Turns out the main differences between GMO and ordinary, undirected evolution by natural selection are: (1) the obvious, that there actually IS intelligent design involved, for better or worse; (2) the ability to introduce genes that nature would have had no realistic opportunity to bring together; and (3) speed. Artificial variation is several orders of magnitude faster than natural variation. With these fantastic abilities comes great responsibility. As with other areas of human endeavor, we are being put to the test. If we fail, it will be spectacular, and horrible. But if we succeed, the sky is no limit. 

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