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Article Specs

Article ID: 2515

VoxAcct: 9

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 7,421

Times Read: 8,991

Genetic Modification

Author: Pagan Communities
Posted: September 27th. 1999
Times Viewed: 8,991

I normally do not like to get into a topic without having facts from allsides (which I still don't) but thought that this topic was importantenough to give an opinion.

Genetic manipulation has been occuring formore years than many people care to admit. Does your german shepard orlab have hip displaysia? Did you know that comes from years ofinbreeding to get the breed of dog we now call a german shepard? Hipdisplaysia is a serious genetic problem in most large dog breeds due tothe limited gene pool we started with trying to make these breeds. Whenyou eat corn this fall, think about its origins. Native peoples spentyears breeding that ear of corn to look like that. Wild corn does notresemble our corn of today. Big plump tomatoes that you see in grocerystores or that come from hothouses and are sold at your local farmer'smarket are genetically enhanced. They have a longer shelf life andretain their colour due to human intervention. We wanted bigger, reddertomatoes that would last longer so we grew them for those geneticallydetermined traits. Genetics has more of an impact on our daily livesthan you might think. With the birth of Dolly came a lot ofpossibilities that most of us do not want to even consider.

In Russiaresearchers have very recently found the frozen remains of a woolymammoth. They hope to be able to retreive some DNA from the animal andrecreate the species. The idea that an extinct species could be broughtback is astounding. Extinction would no longer be a big problem. Wecould save the Tigers, Lions, Rhinos, Wolves all by saving little vialsthat hold DNA. Of course there is a problem with this wonderfultechnology. It does not address the reason that these species are goingextinct; loss of habitat. Where on earth are you going to put apopulation of Wooly Mammoth? So for that reason and other ecologicalreasons, we probably won't see any large pre-historic elephants runningaround northern Canada. Genetics is a tool that could help enhance ourlives. It can reveal the cure for cancer, for alhizmeir's and for anygenetically inherited disease. I personally think that genetic researchcan be a good thing, but IF AND ONLY IF we and our politicians arewilling to stand up and say we want the field to be regulated.

Wecannot turn our backs and let just any scientist run wild with genetictinkering. I don't think we need to have animals such as Dolly runningaround in our barnyards, but the human organ generation that may comefrom this experiment will be invaluable for a patient who is waiting fora heart and there are no donors to give him/her one. There are manybenefits that genetic experimentation can bring, but there are also manythings that will be detrimental and unnecesary for us and our planet.Education and public awareness are the only ways we will be able tounderstand what is happening and that is up to us. Once you have allthe facts then you will be better prepared to make a descision and takea stand.

As always you may not agree with the above, but thanks for listening andI hope that if anything, it will make you think.

May Her light shine bright in you heart,


Mr. Leighton is correct. Genetic engineering of crops is alreadycausing major problems in the ecosystems of the US. I apologize for nothavinga reference for you, but I recall reading an article on a few monthsago relating to this topic.

A certain type of corn had been engineered to bepest-resistant. And it was indeed pest-resistant; however, it also turned outto be butterfly-resistant as well and was killing off the native monarchpopulations at an alarming rate. My reaction was "Duh!" Our technology isn'tgood enough yet to target only one species of insect when making plantspest-resistant. Of course other bugs are going to be affected.

As a biologymajor at Brown University, I am excited about the possibilities that geneticengineering holds. However, I am also aware of the power behind thesetechniques, and the potential for abuse is enormous.

It's frightening thatthere are no regulations on these companies. People got all nervous about thegenetic manipulations by independent researchers that cloned Dolly, but whenthey hear about genetic manipulations of crops by large, wealthy (andthereforepowerful) corporations, there seems to be no reaction.

Mr. Leighton's suggestions for getting involved were excellentones. Iknow that in the US, the number of people who actually write letters to theirrepresentatives is very small, so those letters that are received do getattention. Boycotts are powerful, but usually only if they're organized. Thecompany needs to know that you're boycotting them, otherwise there's no valuein the action. And the company is more likely to pay attention to you ifyou're one of fifty or a hundred people, rather than just one by yourself.

However, if even a small percentage of people who read Mr. Leighton's articlewrote to Monsanto, Zeneca, or Novartis, or all three, or other similarcompanies, informing them of our intent to boycott, that would be asignificantnumber and would certainly get their attention.

One of the best ways to getinvolved is to contact one of the organizations that Mr. Leighton haslisted atthe bottom of his article, particularly under "Doubters' sites." Theseorganizations very possibly have some sort of campaign already under wayagainst such corporations and it is simple to see how you can help.

Christine Marrese

I am writing this in response to the essay on genetic manipulation recentlyfeatured on the Witchvox site. I have been a practicing Wiccan for threeyears. I grew up on a family farm in the American heartland. I also hold aB.S. in Biology. I am working on a second Bachelors in History. For sixyears I was employed in a transgenic research lab as a technician. I feelthat these experiences provide me with the standing to address this issue.

The author of the essay deserves some credit for his research, but should nothave limited himself to Internet sources. Genetic manipulation is a tool, quite possibly the most powerful tool man has discovered since fire. To saythat we should not employ this tool because there is some risk envolved iscomparable to saying we should abolish fire because someone could get burned.

The argument that we are playing god and messing up nature is, in my opinion, wrongheaded. Mankind and nature are not two disparate things. Mankind ispart of nature, and interacts with the environment in just such a way as doother organisms. We humans can no more act against nature than can abacterium.

It is true that mankind has radically affected the environment, but that started long before the incidents cited by the author. Humans, uponcrossing the land bridge to the Americas during the last ice age proceeded tohunt every terrestrial animal in North America larger than the bison toextinction. This was a natural process. Similarly, when stromatolitesdeveloped the novel method for generating energy we refer to asphotosynthesis, the resulting buidup of oxygen in the atmosphere was toxic tomost other forms of life. The enormous changes did not destroy nature, theyenabeled it to expand in new and exciting ways.

We are playing god far moreby embracing the status quo than by embracing change. Continual change is thehallmark of nature. If the author wants to see the true nature of geneticmanipulation he should peruse the scientific journals, they are filled withgroundbreaking work that is deepening our understanding of life, as well asleading to biomedical advances to combat disease. None of this would bepossible without transgenic animals.

Genetic manipulation is not unnatural, and should not be opposed in an unthinking knee-jerk reaction. We need tostep back and see that nature is larger, more dynamic, and more resilient thanmost of us give it credit for. We cannot prevent change in nature, nor can wereturn to any imagined past ideal. We must employ our tools to grow andthrive, just as any other organism would. That is the natural way.


I have held genetic manipulation as suspect in my own mind ever sincethe introduction of "Broccoflower" in our local supermarkets. I mean, honestly, if the Goddess had intended for us to eat this mess, she wouldhave created it herself!

Sometime later, my suspicions were reinforced when I saw a laboratorymouse, on the news, which the scientists had used to grow a human ear. Poor mouse, carrying around an adult sized, human ear on his back. Looked like one of those really bad B-grade horror movies to me.

These practices fly directly in the face of ethics, including the Rede.

I totally object to genetic manipulation, of any kind, but especiallywhere our food is concerned. We already know that the mega-doses ofgrowth hormones, super anti-biotics, and the like that now permeates ourmeat supply (for those who still eat meat) has had some pretty ugly sideeffects on humans. We know that certain pesticides and herbicides (DDTcomes to mind) have been very harmful to humans.

We also know two basic truths of nature....1) when you release anorganism with no natural predator, that organism gets out of controlquickly (as mentioned in the article), and 2) when you use a particulardefense (such as poisons or anti-biotics) against an organism time andtime again, that organism will eventually adapt defenses of its own. For example, I am a hairstylist, as you know. We often have to dealwith the unpleasant task of informing someone that they have head lice.Both my industry, and the medical industry, has noticed over the lastfew years that some species of head lice have become completelyresistant to the current treatments available such as Rid. It simplydoes not faze them anymore. These particular critters are becomingnearly impossible to kill, and until some other treatment is introduced, will continue to grow more and more resistant.

What Monsanto and the other companies are doing, in reality, is settingthemselves up to completely control our food supply. The by-product ofthat is going to be not only foods that are potentially dangerous tohumans, and could eventually cause mutations in humans, but they arealso creating new hybrid organisms that have no natural predators. Therefore, the probability of these organisms running rampant isextremely high, not to mention the eventual evolution or mutation ofthose new organisms, into Goddess knows what. Makes me wonder just howfar fetched some of the mutant creatures in those old "B" movies reallywere.

I say that Genetic Manipulation should not proceed any further until wehave some way of knowing for sure that there is no potential danger. Remember when we first tested nuclear bombs? The military personnel whowere ordered to observe the tests from nearly ground zero were told thatit was completely safe. Years later, they died either from cancer, radiation poisoning, or produced deformed children. This article iscorrect.....this could very well be another bomb, waiting to explode inour faces.

Walk in Peace,

I am currently doing research on the social and ecological implicationsof genetic modification, especially in the area where I live, among theMaya Indian farmers of Chiapas Mexico. I want to congratulate NiallLeighton's on his thoughtful article on Genetic Modification--A PaganPerspective. The reaction of the public in countries such as UK is oneof the very interesting aspects of this whole issue.

The subject is complex and difficult to understand for many people. Formost people, the very subject of 'genetics' is mysterious and certainlythe complexities of transferring fish genes into tomatoes is not asubject most people are consversant with. For those who would like toinform themselves a little more on the technical aspects as related toagriculuture I can highly recommend the articles on the web page of AnnClark:

But for those who are not up to navigating the intricacies of GMtechnology I would like to suggest a simple guide to deciding about thepros and cons of this technology. We know that magic is also a"technology" of potential benefit and also great danger for those whoemploy it. The key is motivation. So we can ask what is the motivationof Monsanto, Novartis et al. in creating seeds, for example, that aresterile and cannot be saved by the farmers for replanting? Do thesecompanies have our best interests at heart? Are they really interestedin feeding the world? What will happen if, through monopolisticpractices such as "terminator seeds" and gene patents, these companiesremain in total control of the "global food system" as they like to callit? It doen't take a Ph.D. in molecular biology to answer thesequestions and they should provide a sufficient guide for action.

May everyone be happy.

Ronald Nigh

I totally agree with Mr. Leighton's views in his article and ironically, have been studying this issue for the past couple of months, when it came tomy attention through Organic Gardening Magazine (July/August 1999) They dida great job of stating facts about Monsanto, and the whole issue ofgenetically modified anything ( with research article references).

I don't know how anyone can become informed on this subject and thenactually think that genetically modified crops, sterile seeds, and herbicideresistant crop strains are a good idea. As an Earth and Nature worshippingstudent of Wicca, the thought of fooling with Mother Nature makes mybroomstick stand on end; especially when the "fooling" is done ultimatelyfor economic gain, and to makes it appear like third world hunger problems, or farmer's weeds are truly important.

But it's not just an issue for Pagans, its an issue for everyone who caresabout the earth, but not enough people are even aware of the facts. It'spractically impossible, like Mr. Leighton mentioned, to fight amultinational agri-chemical organization(s) but even more so when there'sonly a trickle of accurate education being given to the public.

Fringe groups like pagans, organic gardeners, and so-called tree huggersmake up the majority who are "hot" about this issue, and let's face it; inthe public, average daily stream, environmental or so-called "flakey" "earthcare" concerns don't make first or even last news items. This is entirelywrong.

Mr. Leighton's suggestions for getting "active" on this issue are goodones. Knowledge is our best defence.



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