Monday, September 20, 2010

Genetic engineering and same-sex marraige.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is holding final hearings on approving a genetically-modified salmon as fit for eating. Of course the anti-science Left is in a dither about this, much like the anti-science Right gets when stem cells are mentioned.

A panel of experts from the FDA have said that there is no substantive difference between this salmon and other salmon, other than it reaches maturity faster. The scientists find no evidence of risk because of. So precisely what has these Left-wing "consumer" and "environmental" groups in such a uproar? Precisely what is the risk?

That is a good question. According to news reports no one is being very specific at all about the risk. Bloomberg reports: "But opponents of approval, including many consumer advocates, worry that the fish could pose a threat to both the heal of consumers and the environment." Well, that doesn't say anything other than that these Left-wing groups are worried, but they are always worried about science.

If you have watched any of the panic-driven television commercials put out by the anti-equality, Mormon-front, the National Organization for Marriage, you will hear lots of verbiage about the "threat" of same-sex marriage. What is missing is any precise claim about what that threat might be. They simply raise the spectre of a threat. They warn viewers that this threatens their children. How? They don't say. They say it threatens marriage itself. How? They make up false claims over and over and, in very serious tones, warn this is dangerous. And they never get specific as to what this threat really is supposed to be. Why? Simple: They don't know.

NOM and their Mormon-financiers have absolutely no evidence that same-sex marriage is a threat. And neither do the foes of genetic modification have any substantive evidence that these salmon are a threat either.

The foes of GE foods, when told that there is biological difference between GE modified salmon and regular salmon say that is the problem. "That's what worries consumer advocates, who say that approving the salmon is opening the door to all sorts of genetically engineered animals, such as pigs and other animals." So what? So far, they have not stated any real risk. All they are saying is that if you let same-sex couples marry.... whoops, I mean they are saying that GE salmon might mean GE food products of other kinds. Sorry, it is hard to remember which unproven fear-mongering lobby group I'm talking about -- their tactics are always the same so it is sometimes hard to tell which panic lobby is which.

Wenonah Hauter, the chief fear-monger in this case, is simply a political activists with no credentials whatsoever related to the issue. Her entire history is one of being a left-wing activist and her university degree was in anthropology. In fact Hauter's organization, if you bother to read up on their staff and board members, is made up almost entirely of political activists with no credentials in science at all.

Here are the credentials of the staff members listed on their website. It's a long list but illustrates my point that very few of the activists in the anti-science industry have real scientific credentials.

Wenonah Hauter: lobbyist, activist, studied anthropology.
Darecy Rakestraw: Activists with Worldwatch Institute, political science major, studied with a new age type "nutritional" outfit with no science involved.
Rich Binden: environmental activist, studied communications and rhetoric.
Royelen Lee Boykie: no real credentials listed in any field.
Jennifer Errick: no real credentials listed in any field.
Kate Fried: environmental activist with degree in English.
Anna Ghosh: studied public relations.
Elissar Khalek: studied political science and psychology.
Lauren Wright: studiend graphic design and communications.
Patty Lovera: degree in enviromental studies.
Sarah Borron: appears to actually have some degree in relative field of food from a real university.
Tony Corbo: studied public affairs and industrial and labor relations.
Zach Corrigan: attorney.
Brooks Mountcastle: environmentals, studied environmentalism at university.
Felicia Nestor: attorney.
Tim Schwab: studied journalism.
Tyler Shannon: studied law and computer science, union activist.
Patrick Woodall: activists on "economic justice" issue and studied economics.
Ron Zucker: studied political science, English and philosophy.
Emily Wurth: International Studies and Public Health.
Kathy Dolan: studied health policy.
Sarah Gingold: studiend government and politics.
Mary Grant: opponent of water privatization and studied environmental sciences.
Mitch Jones: studiey history and philosophy.
Marianne Cufone: law degree.
Eileen Flynn: studied environmental policy and management.
Meredith McCarthy: astronomy.
James Mitchell: attorney.
Justine Williams: sociocultural anthropology.
Darcey O'Callaghan: social work and economic policy.
Dave Andrews: theology and law.
Claudia Campero: geography.
Eve Mitchell: English and anthropology.
Marcela Olivera: political activist, no credentials listed otherwise.
Alberto Villareal: sociology.
Anna Witowska-Ritter: sociology.
Gabriella Zanzanaini: social anthropology and sustainable development.
Mark Scholsberg: economics and law.
Jorge Aquilar: trade unionist, communications.
Sarah Alexander: English.
Alex Beauchamp: activist, political science.
Meredith Begin: degree claimed, field unstated.
Julia DeGraw: environmental studies and sociology.
Noelle Ferdon: law.
Denise Hart: political science, counseling, English.
Jon Keesecker: community organizer.
Katy Kiefer: "faith-justice studies" and environmetal science.
Renee Maas: public policy.
Matt Ohloff: political science.
Sam Schabacker: economics.
Adam Scow: political science.
Elanor Starmer: development economics, public policy and agriculture science and policy.
Nisha Swinton: environmental law and policy.
Renee Vogelsang: communications.
Jim Walsh: "dedicated political organizer."
Lane Brooks: broadcast journalism.
Jon Bown: IT work.
Clayretha Gatewood: accounting and information systems.
Kevin Larson: IT.
Caitlin Levesque: American studies and history.
Alex Patton: sociology.
Ben Schumin: public administration.
Michael Surbrook: IT.

The closest we get to real science, out of this bunch, is environmental studies, which is normally heavily infused with political assumptions. There are plenty of sociology, anthropology and English major but no one with a degree in the hard sciences. Is it any wonder that they avoid the science and instead talk about fantasies, assumptions and fears?

Hauter claims, regarding the salmon, that "we don't know if it's safe for humans to eat." Actually we do know, it is no biologically different than other salmon that we eat. There is no evidence that any risk is posed. Nor does Hauter offer any. She merely offers her own fears as reason to ban same-sex marriage, oops, there I go again, I mean to ban GE fish.

Bloomberg says: "Food & Water Watch was joined by 30 other animal welfare, consumer, environmental and fisheries groups, including the Sierra Club, which issued a statement citing concerns that the fish could escape and pose an environmental threat." What threat? None is states. They worry that the fish "could introduce new or unknown allergens into the food supply." Do they offer evidence that any risk is likely? No. They appeal to the potential of an "unknown" allergen. What science couldn't be stopped with that logic?

In fact, what human action couldn't be controlled using exactly the same argument? No, you can go outside because there are unknown risks out there! No, you can't watch television; there could be unknown risks associated with it! No, you can't vote for Obama.... ooops, those risks were known.

And how do these salmon pose a risk to salmon in the sea? They don't. They are sterile so they can't reproduce, they will all be females and have no contact with male salmon as well. And they are raised in land-based tanks not in the ocean.

In the end all we have is imagination to scare us. No substantive reasons for opposing GE foods are offered, no hard science is used. Instead these anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, English-majors and political activists appeal to the bogeyman theory of science: if they can imagine a problem then one must exist. And if they can imagine a risk it must be banned.

The environmental panic-mongers are really no different than Maggie Gallagher and her anti gay bigots. They drum up imaginary fears to stampede the public, and the political process, in order to stop progress. They hype unknown fears instead of known facts, they both engage in the politics of panic.

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