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February 27, 2009

To GE or not GE…

Filed under: association for indias development, NGO, social change — neosurya @ 18:01

Got into a discussion with members at AID about Genetic Engineering; it was about whether one should support it or not. There were several aspects that were discussed; the question according to me is not about GE but about issues that NGOs have to pick up in general.

I will re-state a few salient aspects as points:

1. Science is often mis-aligned for profit. Science needs to have experimental
rigor and business ethics should be sound.
2. Science should have solutions that are reversible. Think harmful
gas leaks without medication in neighboring hospitals (Dow/Bhopal, industrial
effluents, Agent Orange).
3. Historically, when technology or a line of thought removes choice,
it is harmful.
This is not just about science. Its effects are more easily
understood in social problems. Think Mangalore – removal of choices for women etc.
4. No amount of testing is sufficient testing. Errors happen, and that is
acceptable. Hence, technologies must balance 1, 2, and 3 so as to
allow correctable and gradual acceptance.

As users of advanced technology, and more because we are NOGs, we have to
be aware of these aspects, and be clear about why a certain technology should,
or should not be supported. We cannot have ad-hoc approaches to each problem.

Generally, I am not against a particular technology, and that includes GE. But I would be most comfortable with a technology that supports these tenets.

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