Future's so bright...
April 7, 2003 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Pessimism bad - With the recent kabal surrounding the "dishonesty without intent" (whatever that means) Bjorn Lomborg committed in his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist", Matt Ridley speaks out for more "technological fixes" and against the technological pessimism that pervades the public debate about technology, and which can have perverse side effects, according to him. "In the 1990s Ingo Potrykus genetically engineered some strains of rice to contain a natural vitamin A precursor precisely because he was affronted by the fact that half a million children go blind every year in the third world for lack of vitamin A. He gave up his intellectual property rights, and persuaded Syngenta and other companies to waive their patents so that he could give the rice away for free in poor countries. Yet the crop remains tied up for years to come awaiting regulatory approval as a "drug" because of precautionary regulations urged on third world countries by environmental groups. " Future's so bright, I gotta get an eye upgrade!
posted by NekulturnY (13 comments total)
Looks like everybody at Mefi hit Arts and Letters Daily this morning. First the Doestoevsky article, now this. (I'm not complaining, mind you. Just ...observing)
posted by leotrotsky at 10:34 AM on April 7, 2003

You're right, that's where I got it. But I frequently lament the fact that ALDaily doesn't offer a chance for a healthy discussion, and I thought: if the mountain won't come to Moses, I'll take the fight to MeFi.
posted by NekulturnY at 10:47 AM on April 7, 2003

Let's see, we've got already got IraqFilter, Bookfilter, and Sportsfilter (among others), why not get set up an ALDaily filter? I don't imagine Tran would begrudge you a link.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:58 AM on April 7, 2003

I agree with the sentiment of the article (the public debate is too pessimistic). However, I find it shocking that any reasonable person would argue that genetically modified foods should not have to go through regulatory approval.

You can't possibly know every impact of genetic manipulatation, throw the word drugs in as many quotes as you want -- whether they are in pills, or plants, or whatever, chemicals are chemicals. So it is practical to send them thru the same approval process. That's good sense, not pessimism.

Yes, it's disheartening that regulation comes with bureaucracy, but it's certainly better than the alternative (a free for all where any genetically modified food is instantly approved).
posted by malphigian at 11:05 AM on April 7, 2003

I was wondering as I read the article: how much of this guy's boosterism is caused by a recognition that the Americans will push ahead no matter what the rest of the world thinks, so you either try to get on the train as it's easing out of the station - and while there may still be time to at least influence the timing and direction - or risk being run down by the barreling locomotive in at some future point?
posted by JollyWanker at 12:18 PM on April 7, 2003

What will we do, I wonder, in 20 years, when we suddenly find people going blind from the genetically modifed rice? I suppose there's a "fix" for that, right? And then what happens when we find the serious flaw in the "fix"? A "fix" for the "fix", I reckon.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:59 PM on April 7, 2003

reminds me of the WHO's pricey buckle up campaign in Africa where there is probably one car for every 25 sq. miles or so. Got to keep those beaurcrats employed right? [lafs]
posted by ZupanGOD at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2003

The attacks on Lomborg are just shocking, they show the depths that the enviromentalist movement will sink to. Browbeating a committee to call his book "intellectually dishonest" simply because you disagree with it is the epitome of the ends justifying the means.

I agree with the goals of the enviromentalists, but I have nothing but contempt for those who comprise the movement itself.
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:23 PM on April 7, 2003

Honestly, after all that's been said and done, my opinion of GM foods has actually improved, in terms of the potential for society, and the intentions of the geneticists who've worked on it for so long. I don't think there's anyone not for improving agricultural technology and our ability as a race to harvest and produce food for our world.

The real problem with it has been the economics and politics of it. The patents. The fees. The idea of corporations somehow owning food or manipulating policies to have their food accepted. Had an free and open government initiative, multinational or not, produced all of this, I doubt the arguments would have gotten to this point.

I think the P&T show was right: ultimately, it's all about who you trust (and just so you know, i really don't trust Monsanto).
posted by teradome at 8:26 PM on April 7, 2003

What will we do, I wonder, in 20 years, when we suddenly find people going blind from the genetically modifed rice?

Wow, that's great! Can you tell me what stocks I should buy too?
posted by kindall at 11:18 PM on April 7, 2003

The attacks on Lomborg are just shocking, they show the depths that the enviromentalist movement will sink to.

The tree huggers at Scientific American:

Misleading Math about the Earth :Science defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist

From Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty:

Decision regarding complaints against Bjorn Lomborg

Some Realism about Environmental Skepticism: Bjorn Lomborg's 'The Skeptical Environmentalist' (PDF)

From American Scientist: Skewed Skepticism
posted by y2karl at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2003

More contrarian science here: The Flat Earth Society
posted by y2karl at 9:49 AM on April 9, 2003

On a more serious note: Correcting myths from Bjørn Lomborg
posted by y2karl at 9:51 AM on April 9, 2003

« Older WWTBAM   |   Face Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments