Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Science and Scientism


Back in the 1990s I spent time in the company of scientists who were expressing concern at the lack of public debate on developments in genetic engineering. They pointed out that the planting of genetically engineered crops in fields open to the air constituted deliberate release into the wild. They expressed the view that uncontrolled releases of this nature were contrary to true scientific practice because their effects could not be monitored or controlled. As I listened to these sincere and well-informed individuals I could not credit that such unwise actions were really taking place. Surely there were checks and balances in place? Now, as I read leaflets from those days (see 'Deliberate Release into the Environment of Genetically Engineered Organisms', as posted on the YEA Page of https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ ), current developments force me to revise my earlier judgement.

With hindsight I now see that those organisations were well justified in seeking to draw attention to matters of general concern to the public at large. The leaflet cited above was one of many backed by a number of national and international organisations and circulated widely at academic, political and green conferences - which is where I found myself talking to concerned scientists.

During the same period (the 1990s) I was introduced to an international body of women medics, scientists, academics and journalists who were concerned that developments in the new reproductive technologies were occurring rapidly and without open public debate. Formed in 1985, FINRRAGE (the Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Engineering) sought to share information about the development and application of these techniques globally, and their impact upon the lives of women. They asked: "Where are doctors and scientists taking us? Test-tube fertilisation, surrogacy, embryo flushing, sex-preselection, genetic engineering and artificial hormones are being used on women all over the world. As medical scientists find new ways to control human reproduction, the need to explore how these technologies affect women becomes more urgent." So says Pat Spallone in Beyond Conception. When the possibility of using IVF (in vitro fertilisation) on women became apparent in the 1970s, it raised medical, legal, moral and social questions, giving rise to a series of committees set up by corporations and governments to explore ethical issues. These questions are explored in Beyond Conception, published in 1988. For information on literature covering a range of related issues see the YEA Booklist that is to be found on the YEA Page of: https://www.douglassocialcredit.com/ .

Two documents have recently been added to the Douglas Social Credit website SOCIAL ART PAGE. The first comprises two articles written by Ellen Teague and published in The Tablet. In 'Frankenstein in the Fields' (1998) she documents the dangers to human health and the health of the planet posed by developments in genetic engineering of food pursued by transnational corporations whose primary motivation is profit. Her review article, entitled 'Eden or Apocalypse' (1999) looks at five books exploring the developments to date in the genetic engineering of food crops.

'Editing Humanity' appeared more recently (2015) in The Economist. It drew attention to the CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology that makes it possible to edit genetic information quickly and cheaply. The Economist Leader comments that the new technique for manipulating genes "holds great promise - but rules are needed to govern its use".

The question for all of us to ask - and answer - is -who is currently determining the direction of research? What is their primary motivation? Who might devise the necessary rules? And how might those rules be enforced?

Frances Hutchinson, 29 June 2021

"It is well known, too, that the talents of scientists are unscrupulously prostituted by Commerce. Research into pure science is not wanted. To live, the scientist must devote himself to discoveries that are financially exploitable." Eimar O'Duffy, Life and Money, 1935) p242.

1 comment:

  1. A most relevant red flag! It is interesting that, in one of the many discussions Henry Ford conducted with three of his closest friends, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh and Harvey Firestone, the owner of Firestone tyres. Lindbergh had become a board member of PanAm airlines and they were discussing the future of airlines. PanAm was expanding into tourist travel, especially South America. Lindbergh raised what he considered an important moral issue: was it right to drop rich tourists into poor, undeveloped countries like Cuba? Could this have a major disturbing effect? This led to a thoughtful discussion.

    These questions do not seemed to be raised today in the sphere of science. It seems that scientists no longer have the consciousness about the impact of the advances, in particular of technological applications, especially in the natural world. The ethologist, Konrad Lorenz, a Nobel prize winner, said about fifty years ago that: "Most people have forgotten how to live with living creatures, with living systems and that, in turn, is the reason why man, whenever he comes into contact with nature, threatens to kill the natural system in which and from which he lives".
    The examples raised in the article should give pause for thought, especially now that, in agriculture for instance, understanding of the role soil and plants play in removing carbon from the atmosphere and "storing". This is leading to a rethink about tilling, as well as chemical use. The complementary effect is that the fields where this is happening are much more productive and pest-free, i.e more profitable.
    Surely now is the time to research the restorative properties in plants and minerals that occur everywhere naturally. It is also time to call out the attempts of the pharma industry to co-opt the work of our scientists.