Science and Politics


The recent attack by anti-GMO activists on an experimental planting of biotech grapes in a government-funded site in Colmar, France raises some thought provoking discussion about public safety, burden of proof and the nature of the public commons.

An article by Davis grad and plant pathologist Steve Savage "A Sad Day for Wine, A Sad Day for Science" articulates one side of the debate, and there is lively and civil discussion in the comments, including some by yours truly. Recommended reading.

Systems thinking and prediction of consequences is not something contemporary science is very good at. Consider, for example, the consequences of USDA’s recent intentional introduction of the asian ladybug to the Central US, a disaster of epic proportions.

Steve's assertion that he is in a position to assess the risks is chilling. A sad day for science indeed when we lord our education and experience over the lay public's legitimate concerns for unpredictable consequences.

Scientists need to state their case — the risks and the rewards — and let the public in on the decision-making process, rather than to pre-empt such a conversation and ask us simply to trust the "professional" assessment.

Aside from the fact that scientific corricula generally include little in the way of ethics, philosophical training, writing skills, or political awareness, UC Davis is a brutally tough school (I found it much more disagreable to study there compared with MIT), and graduates tend to carry the false impression that such hard-won degrees must confer special wisdom. That gut feeling of superiority results in much mischief.







Genetic "Engineering" is dangerous and was built on an outdated model of molecular biology. The "New Molecular Biology" shows that genes can express in unpredictable ways and are influenced by a vast network of information. Gene expression is a function of its environment.

Current transgenic patent law threatens The Plant Variety Protection Act and should be changed. Traditional plant breeding is being threatened because transgenic breeding is unfairly given greater patent protection. This must change.

Transgenic patented genes have spread into the wild and threaten traditional and native seed diversity.

Transgenic Terminator seed technology threatens traditional seed banks and wild seed.

Patented genetic code is mathematically equivalent to patented computer code, both can be represented in binary language. Owners of patented transgenic code must follow the same rules that apply to patented computer code. Said code according to patent law should not be malicious. Owners of patented transgenic code should be liable for transgenic code trespass in the same way computer hackers are liable for computer code trespass.

Enhanced Classical Plant Breeding shows greater promise then transgenics.

New discoveries in molecular biology show that transgenic engineers have got the science wrong. Special patent protection should be ended.
Code trespass goes against patent law. Traditional and wild seed are now threatened. Genetically engineered grapes and wine yeast are not needed. Wine making has a successful 8000 year history without transgenics.