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March 30, 2000


Bioethics of AgBiotechnology


The following message was received at AgBioView-owner@listbot.com
and is being forwarded to you, the list owner.

In a message dated 3/31/00 4:33:13 PM Central Standard Time,
AgBioView-owner@listbot.com writes:

<< There are two kinds of ethical arguments against GMOs.

1. Intrinsic objections to GMOs

Intrinsic objections to GMOs maintain that the process of making GMOs
is objectionable in itself. This belief is defended in several ways.
Here are the most prominent examples:

To produce GMOs is ethically wrong because it is necessarily:
To do something that is unnatural;
To try to play God;
To arrogate to ourselves historically unprecedented levels of power;
To disrespect life by patenting it;
To commodify life;
To illegitimately abrogate species boundaries;
To exhibit arrogance, hubris, and disaffection. >>

Interesting analysis. More interesting, I find that many advocacy groups
stoking the fire of biotechnology find GM foods to be intrinsically
problematic. To the average consumer concerned in Europe it is only the
extrinsic factors that seem to raise concern. Few people would care about
the "disrespecting of life" if GM foods were cheaper and safe. Intrinsic
arguments tend to be those of extremists and academics. The trouble is that
the groups that have intrinsic problems with GMOs use very effective
techniques to convince the public that there is an extrinsic problem.