Friday, July 22, 2011

#203 / GMOs

There are practical and prudential reasons not to like the fact that the food we eat may now be "genetically modified," or GM food.

GMO means "genetically modified organism." There are lots of them out there. In fact, the laws of the United States now allow corporations (let's hear it for Monsanto) to patent new forms of life.

Let me make a philosophical point. Human beings have historically understood themselves as "creatures," who come into the preexisting world of Nature and then live within it. My main point, in this Two Worlds blog, is to note that we don't, actually, inhabit the world of Nature directly, but that we live most immediately in a world that we ourselves create.

In our world "anything is possible," because we make the rules. In the world of Nature, the contrary is the case. We ignore the rules of Nature at our peril.

Many of our problems seem to come from the fact that we get the two worlds confused. We think that the kind of "political" changes that we could easily make are somehow "impossible," while we act like we don't have to pay attention to the inevitable results of tampering with Nature.

GMOs are a great example of our thought that we can tamper with the laws of Nature and get away with it. The "better living through chemistry" revolution, long associated with the DuPont chemical company, turned out to have lots of downsides. It turns out we didn't know what we were doing. How much more risky it is to create new forms of life. Yet, that is what we are doing, and we act like it's "progress."

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