Subj: Re: Golden Rice, Prince Charles and James Watson
Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 2:10:48 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Bob MacGregor
>>>...According to Charles, nature is now regarded 'as a system that can
be engineered for our own convenience or as a nuisance to be evaded and
manipulated and in which anything that happens can be fixed by
technologyand human ingenuity. If a fraction of the money currently being
invested in developing genetically manipulated crops were applied to
understanding and improving traditional systems of agriculture, which have
stood the all-important test of time, the results would be remarkable.'
I realized that Charles had mandated organic production on his extensive
land holdings; I didn't realize that he was foresaking mechanization and
modern, high-yielding and pest-resistant plant varieties in favour of
those that had stood the test of time (ie, pre-20th century, traditional
Subj: Pope Charles of Wales
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 11:44:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Andrew Apel
The Vatican has made amends with Galileo and others and doctrinally made
peace with science.
Prince Charles apparently wants to unmake this peace, and make religion
and science antagonists once
again. As a self-proclaimed champion of God's work, Charles has revived
the medieval notion of science as the enemy of faith.
If the guiding hand of Nature falls upon him in the form of a case of E.
coli H:0157 after eating organic lettuce, do you suppose he will praise
Nature and go willingly to the next life, or call upon science to spare
Subj: Prince Charles's principles
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 8:21:58 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: J Ralph Blanchfield
I quote below two excellent articles responding to Prince Charles; one by
Steve Connor, Science Editor, in The Independent, 18 May; and the other by
Minette Marrin, in the Daily Telegraph, 19 May. But first, a few comments
of my own.
Prince Charles (or rather his activist ill-advisers who use him as a pawn
to advance their own agendas) is/are at it again. This is not new. As long
ago as 1996 he famously wrote:
""I believe that we have now reached a moral and ethical watershed beyond
which we venture into realms
that belong to God, and to God alone. Apart from certain medical
applications, what actual right do we have to experiment,
Frankenstein-like, with the very stuff of life? We live in an age of
rights - it seems to me that it is about time our Creator had some rights
In the ensuing period he has neither reacted nor responded to two
questions that I sent to his Website in response to an open invitation to
the public to comment, and have subsequently posed on several occasions.
Subj: A prince and a queen
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 7:58:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: "John W. Cross"
As a child, I can remember my father joking that if God had meant people
to fly, he'd have given them wings. I suspect that my father heard that
from some preacher when he was a kid. I think the general notion that
mankind's intellectual efforts are a sacrilege has been around a long time
in some (less educated) quarters. It's just surprising to hear it from
the likes of Prince Charles. (I shiver to think that when he becomes the
Head of the Church of England, he'll decree that the established church
should take up this view.) Somehow, I doubt the deep theological
underpinnings of that anti-technology viewpoint.
The anti-technology philosophy embraced by Charles is actually more in
tune with the sort of romantic, back-to-the basics philosophy promoted by
the French philosopher Rousseau and taken up in a stylish way by Queen
Marie Antoinette: making a game of pretending to live a simple life,
spinning wool and dressing as a shepherdess. I have no doubt at all that
Marie Antoinette, were she alive today, would be tending an organic
garden, drinking bottled water, and preaching to her Nation about the
evils of GMO, "Let them eat organic food!"
So much for the poor, hungry for bread.
1. Do you not recognise that, if you are stating a principle you have
immediately compromised it, by saying that you do not accept interfering
with God's rights with food but are happy to do so with medicine?
2. If you adopt the theological approach, can you not conceive that
mankind's ability to improve the quantity and quality of food by carrying
out genetic modification is a God-given talent which should
be used wisely, and not be rejected out of hand?
We need to understand, and Prince Charles needs to understand, and to
help the public to understand that, in addition to whatever may be
achieved by improvements in population control measures, in conventional
agriculture and in more rational distribution of food supplies, feeding
the world's exponentially-growing population over the next few decades
will require a whole array of genetically-modified foods; foods capable of
growing in arid conditions, foods capable of growing in salty soils, foods
with enhanced nutritional properties, plants and animals capable of
resisting diseases that cause enormous wastage of food. Moreover, public
understanding and acceptance of genetic modification are equally
essential for there to be great beneficial advances in the field of
medicine. Yes, there are serious concerns and problems
relating to genetic modification, which responsible scientists recognise,
and which the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) listed in
its Position Statement on Genetic Modification and
There are two possible courses --
That taken by some groups and individuals, which is to exaggerate
problems, and to play on and amplify public fears, with a view to
preventing the acceptance, or even securing the prohibition, of
genetically-modified foods. This is essentially the same approach as that
was adopted by the Luddites, and those who in the past equally bitterly
opposed the legalisation of milk pasteurisation (the public health measure
that has saved more lives than any other, with the single exception of a
clean water supply).
The alternative approach, and one that responsible scientists commend, is
to recognise the real concerns and continue to address them by research
plus appropriate organisational and legislative measures. The
course of mankind's technical advance from being a cave-dweller has
always involved some risk and been fraught with unforeseen problems. The
challenge is, by foresight, and with the enhanced scientific tools
and knowledge now at our disposal, to predict the problems and solve them
before they happen.
HRH has resurrected his "we must not play God" theme. What a curious,
indeed indefensible, convenience to make a "moral" distinction between
"the stuff of life" (food) and "certain medical
applications". Isn't it merely a case that princes (and probably most
readers of these words) don't have to wonder where the next meal is coming
from, but all (even princes) may at some time be in dire need of "certain
medical applications"? It would be salutary for us to remember the 800
million of our fellow humans who today do not get enough to eat, and the
extra billions of mouths to feed in a few decades time.
The worst immorality, the worst crime that we could commit for the future
of the human race, would be to allow Luddites to make us turn our backs on
the only techniques that will enable us to increase the world's food
supply on the huge scale that will be required, minimising the use of
agricultural chemicals and without vast encroachment on natural reserves..
Of course science ALONE will not solve with the problem of feed the future
world. But it will not be solved WITHOUT science.
"Playing God"? Someone wrote recently that when a religious or moral
leader stigmatises something as "playing God", it always relates to any
new development since the speaker reached early adulthood, never
to anything in place or in operation any earlier.
At 08:58 AM 05/22/2000 +0000, you wrote:
>Date: May 19 2000 15:38:20 EDT
>From: Andrew Apel
>Subject: Playing God
>Is there a theologian in the house?
>The notion that biotechnology is "playing God" and therefore
>forbidden (or at least, wrong in some sense) has constantly
>puzzled me. Is there scriptural or doctrinal authority which
>supports such a claim?
>In theory, if God is all-powerful, then anything we do is
>necessarily within the power of God, which would in effect
>prohibit all human activity.
>I just can't make sense of it.
J Ralph Blanchfield MBE
=46ood Science, Food Technology & Food Law Consultant
Chair, IFST External Affairs
Web Editor, Institute of Food Science & Technology
IFST Web address <www.ifst.org>
e-mail: ICQ# 6254687.
ICQ Web page