Monday, May 28, 2012

New reading material - the geek manifesto

The Geek Manifesto has been floating around in the background of various news feeds for a few weeks now, as in I'm sure I've seen it mentioned several times. This post on Mark Henderson's blog actually makes me want to to and find a copy though. It's an eloquent defence of the use of genetic engineering. One with which I wholeheartedly concur - it's a tool, learn how to use it, then use it where appropriate. To pieces particularly stick out for me:
The whole question of being pro- or anti-GM food is in many ways a bad one. The better question is what crop, with what modification, for what purpose, made by whom?
It's a good point - as much as the people writing stupid headlines and generating sound bytes would like to believe otherwise, people aren't (generally speaking) stupid. A blanket ban is not throwing away a potential useful tool because it's not useful in all situations. Throwing away all your hammers because right at this moment you need to drill a screw in. The other salient bit is:
By so transparently rejecting scientific consensus on both issues, greens invite the charge of hypocrisy when they urge politicians and the public to listen to the scientific consensus on climate change. If they are prepared to cherry-pick scientific evidence to suit their purposes on nuclear power and biotechnology, people are bound to wonder whether they are doing the same over climate change.
Which is, I think a fair point. If you are using solid evidence and the scientific method to push for a particular world view (climate change), you don't then get to switch off the evidence based view of the world when it all of a sudden conflicts with your "common sense" (GE). Science is first and foremost about what is really there, not what we want to be there.
And an honourable mention to a commenter, mentha trecenta, in the comments, in response to someone using the old "there's no evidence to support GE's safety" argument, for providing this pithy link alongside an expression of disbelief. 440 studies of ... studies of GE safety that have found nothing to indicate danger.

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