[Marxism] Frankenpolitics: The Left defence of GMOs,

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Wed Jan 8 13:57:26 MST 2014

On Wed, January 8, 2014 20:11, Louis Proyect wrote:
>> as there is more discussion there it seems.)
> Mr. Nuke weighs in as a pro-GM guy as well. Gosh, what's next?

I really don't think this sort of remark about what are clearly different
issues is either fair or helpful to a productive discussion. Unlike many
other (fortunately MOST other) issues discussed on this list, the
controversial component of this discussion does not relate at all to
issues of economics or political power, nor can you pretend there is a
clear "position" that the ruling class takes on GM technology (nor is
there on nuclear power, but it IS a DIFFERENT ISSUE).

I think the points made by both David's are pretty much on the mark, and
also clearly are not dogmatic or based on a particular prejudice. I won't
repeat those points but just want to delineate the discussion so the issue
isn't made one-dimensional. There are 3 separate sorts of issues involved,
around which one could have different opinions:

1) The social benefits or evils of corporations (such as Monsanto) who
employ or have a stake in this technology.

2) Whether (and when/how/where) this technology represents good or bad
agricultural policy, that is, "policy" in the best sense of the word,
policy for the common good, as would be the standard under a socialist

3) Whether there are valid safety concerns regarding eating food
originating from genetically modified organisms.

As for (1), I think we all pretty much agree that these capitalist
corporations are evil (as are the ones who DON'T use GM), and we can all
decry HOW they use otherwise valid technology (whether or not GM) for
their own good and often against the public interest. So this is not a

As for (2), I have no expertise in agriculture and will not further
comment. Louis posted one article in this regard which is worth
considering but which, as David pointed out, is in regards to one single
use of an entire technology and whose conclusions cannot be applied to
that entire technology unless they can be properly generalized.

But I believe that (3) is the issue that receives the most attention among
lefties, where GM food is practically equated with pesticides,
radio-isotopes, and other harmful substances entering the food chain,
water supply, affecting workers, etc. THAT is the big mistake! There is
ZERO repeatable evidence for any such dangers based on a species having
been created through GM versus through "natural" cross-breeding. And there
just isn't any scientific reason to believe there should be. The sort of
"information" out there to the contrary has as much credibility as RT on
Syria. It simply isn't an issue.

Look, my concern isn't that the left might succeed (as if we ever succeed
in anything) in getting a ban on GM crops. Even if that means less
efficient farming, I know that world hunger isn't due to inefficient food
production. I'm not qualified (nor are most of you) to weigh the efficacy
of using this or that GM or conventional technique in this or that
situation. Rather, my concern is that I don't want the left to look
STUPID. I don't want the left to become known for LYING and using
(pseudo-) scientific results selectively to prove something that is (and
sooner or later will be recognized as) FALSE. I don't want the left's
rightful opposition to Monsanto and agribusiness to rest on arguments and
suspicions that will be recognized as contrived. I want Marxists' respect
for science to mean REAL science, and not convenient "facts" which are
cherry-picked out of the gobs of research (both well and poorly-conducted
research) without considering repeatability and significance of
statistical results.

Genetic engineering, like it or not, is the wave of the future, in many
areas (not just agriculture). I do not want the left to look like
Luddites, opposing actual progress in science and technology in the name
of social "progress." Because in 50 years, people (or historians at least)
will look back on these discussions about the supposed dangers of eating
food associated with an entire technology, and it will look just as silly
as someone proposing to ban electricity or antibiotics. It just makes us
look stupid.

- Jeff

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