So is Anti-GMO Equivalent to Nazi Book Burning?

The idea that those that oppose GMOs through direct action are equivalent to Nazi book burners is a troubling notion.  It is based on two simplistic premises that science is neutral and that the advancement of knowledge is good.  However, the premises contradict each other.  If science is neutral, and science has the goal of the advancement of knowledge, then to my mind the advancement of knowledge can be neither good nor bad, just the uses to which it can be put.  Any thinking person can agree that although science may be neutral, scientists and everybody else, are not. That corporate greed can undermine the neutrality of scientific results should be a cautionary tale to us all. 

Consider that Nazi science was neutral, but the scientists were not. It is clear that Nazi science, although neutral, was often also immoral. Scientists could agree to go on wholeheartedly with the experiments, or sabotage them. The scientist as a Nazi would go on with experiment in good faith.  The scientist as a moral person would find any way possible to disrupt it.  So the question is who, if any, are the real Nazis in this debate?

Discussion over honest differences of opinion in the arena of scientific ideas is the way knowledge advances.  Theories change on as experiments warrant. However, as with a medical trial, the experiment stops when the precautionary principle suggests that harm could be done.

As the patient is on the operating table, the GMO supporters argue that the patient will die without the operation.  They argue that the anti-GMO people are causing the patient to die by halting the operation and saying that anti-GMO people are doomsayers. The death of the patient is itself a theory open to debate, as is the efficacy, morality and safety of the operation.  This makes the GMO supporters not only the doomsayers, but also immoral by openly violating the precautionary principle.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by First Officer on May 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    “However, as with a medical trial, the experiment stops when the precautionary principle suggests that harm could be done.”

    Huh, medical trials are discontinued not when there is a chance or suggestion of harm but when harm exceeds benefit. A great many compounds and therapies are approved even when they have deletious side effects because their benefits outweigh those side effects. Cancer treatments are a prime example.

    The Nazi book burning charge was made in reference to anti-gmo vandals destroying the very experiments that would determine if such harm exists. It is also made in reference to vandalism and destruction even in the face of demonstrated safety of GMO’s, as in the case of Golden Rice.

    Reply

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