I think that Avaaz should not be used for theological, reactionary campaigns against the progress of science. I also think that fanatic, irrational conservationism is a reactionary viewpoint.
My opinion on this subject is the following:
1) Theological thought says that genetic research is “playing God”, a sin and an unmoral work. They are afraid that science challenges theological dogmas. But for propaganda reasons, many times they do not appeal to theological arguments, but they use ethical and pseudo-scientific arguments. “Ad ignorantiam” reasoning are frequently used to emphasize the danger of the unknown. The main critic to doctor Frankesntein is made in this sense: he is playing God, because only God can create life. The name “Frankestein fish” suggest this theological viewpoint: “non tangitur” (does not touch!) because is God work.
2) But neither God nor the “wise nature” made a fine work, because every year born thousand of children with genetic disorders caused by DNA mutation.
3) Genetically modified organism (GMO) are not more dangerous that naturally random modifications of the DNA. Biochemical variations “n’ai pas d’oleur”, do not matter how this happen. A naturally random modification of DNA is not different that human made modification of DNA. As biochemical modifications both are identical. Analogously, NaCl is only NaCl independent of how been obtained.
4) Scientific genetic engineering is essentially not different that traditional artificial selection methods. The wheat of our every day bread is also a Frankestein, but that was obtained in thousand of years: it does not have pairs of chromosomes, as you, I and the mushrooms, but it is hexaploid, i.e. it has three pairs of chromosomes.
5) Theological thought also yields the old fashion, scientifically incorrect “equilibrium ecology”. Nature has an equilibrium, ecosystems have an equilibrium and always it is preferable do not modify this equilibrium, said this erroneous view. Many modern research does not share this. For example: “periods of equilibrium are often interrupted by even longer periods of nonequilibrium”, “Evidence for nonsaturation and nonequilibrium in ecological communities is more convincing than evidence for saturation” (see at the end of this e-mail). Mass extinction is happen today, now.
6) “Long term testing” for a fish meat is a delirium. There are poisonous fishes and other problems with fish food, but long term testing make no sense. I ask you: “if is not a GMO, but a natural being: do you demand long term testing?” For example, if coelacanth fish becomes very common and many people would eat it: do you question for a long term testing? I doubt.
7) The humankind, long time ago, has extincted many species in an irresponsible way. Many examples can be cited: the megafauna, tiger of tasmania, etc. Today humankind can create and extinguish species intentionally. The variola virus is practically extinct, for example. The “Frankestein salmon” probably causes the extinction of the wild salmon. Sanctuaries for the wild salmon, storage of its DNA, etc., can be made to prevent eventually “ecological disaster”, as the rabbits in Australia. But our level of prediction is very limited in this and similar cases. I think that the humankind should assume this “calculated risk”. The extinction of a species is not a bad thing by it itself: it depends of many circumstances. The irrational, fanatic conservationism: “no species should be extinct” ignores the modern ecology and the history of the life in this planet and, for these reasons, it is a reactionary viewpoint. This is another form of “non tangitur” (does not touch!), with theological prejudices.
8) If you defend the humans rights, then you are very concert with the malnutrition in the world. See the statistics:
Any human being with hungry hurts my heart. Some countries of Africa needs urgently food assistance, for example. The research in GMO is a very hope against the hungry in the world. We should be very careful in this matter for does not stopping GMO research. If I have to choose between the food for a child and the extinction of the wild salmon, you already know my response.
9) I am not ignorant that the way that companies and corporations behave. “Res non verba”, they only seek to profit, while they talk about ecology. For this cause, they should be controlled. I am not against this control.
10) I think that we need to change the pseudo ecological discourse by scientific criteria and do not mixture theological or mystical viewpoints with scientific ones. Ecology do made more testing prior to become a militant cause. But the ecological militant cause actually assumes many times anti-scientific premisses which are forms of conservatism. Irrational conservationism is conservatism. Non tangitur species, non tangitur climate, because they have hungry but we have food. Avaaz said that wants to change the world. The environment, the species, the DNA are part of the world. I want to change the world. As a part of the world, I want to change the ecosystems, the nature, the species, the DNA, the environment, the climate of the planet and many other things.
11) I am not against the propagation of theological or mystical viewpoints. I am against the diffusion of this viewpoints as scientific or ethical ones. Or another form which disguises their theology, religion or mystic behind they.
Apologize the bad English.
Klaus Rohde, “Nonequilibrium ecology”,Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 182,