Musings on genetic engineering

Academia – for all its movement toward sustainability – remains steeped in the old model that nature can be reduced to objective phenomena and that, by including environmental harm among those phenomena and fitting the best computer model, we can achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. It is interesting to see the options unfolding and to see that, while scientists tend to view them all as equally beneficial, I see some as perpetuating the model of big industry and corporate energy while others quite literally give power to the people. Many who share my views do not believe that technology and complexity can solve our problems. I disagree, but only in the case where technology creates something simple that does not require energy/technology to produce and sustain. Genetic engineering has a unique potential in that regard, in that the end products are alive and can be grown indefinitely without need for technological input or knowledge. Some see it as irresponsible to interfere with life in that way, and while I can understand their perspective given the ill-advised creation of herbicide resistance and the control of genetically engineered crops by large corporations, I also feel that the way forward must not continue to rely on menial production labor and raw-materials extraction, and that the only way around that is to take advantage of the self-constructing ability of living things. So while others try to re-create photosynthesis using complex organic chemistry and rare-element catalysts, I maintain that living cells are the best answer.

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