Volatility

November 4, 2017

The Lies of the CRISPR/Gene Editing Media Campaign

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The allegedly “new” GMOs are nothing but retreads of the old in every way. This is the case no matter whether the flacks call them by a technical name like CRISPR or Zinc Finger Nuclease, “gene editing”, “new breeding techniques”, or the more internet-colloquial GMOs 2.0 or what have you. The alleged novelty of these retreads is just the latest lie designed to rehabilitate all the same stale old lies.
 
GMO critics often have noted the self-contradiction between the original lie that genetic engineering was “precise” and the more recent hype touting CRISPR as “more precise than earlier methods”, thus conceding that these methods weren’t all that precise. This Wall Street Journal piece goes further, openly acknowledging that the GMO cartel wants simply to start over and “reset” all the lies. It doesn’t even say “more precise” but that “gene-editing technology…enables scientists to make precise changes to plants’ existing DNA”, thus admitting the complete lack of precision of the earlier methods. They’re also simply starting over with the lie equating genetic engineering with conventional breeding. The idea, evidently, is to pretend they never deployed these same lies for the earlier generation of GMOs, and that these lies weren’t all completely debunked.
 
Of course the same liars who tout the alleged greater precision of the retread GMOs still claim in other contexts that the old GMOs are “precise”. So we have two mutually exclusive versions of the “precision” lie being double-thought at all times by the same pro-GM activist liars. Then there’s the stealth version of the lie where a pro-GMO activist, pretending to be reasonable, concedes the failure of GM-based agriculture and pays lip service to emphasizing better farming practices over technological magic bullets, but in the very course of this smuggles in “gene editing” as “…a very different thing to GM [which] will change the whole picture.” This is the furthest I’ve seen a pro-GMO activist go in denigrating earlier GMOs while stealth-touting gene editing as something completely different and with completely different future prospects. In the same way as the more brazen liars he’s trying to get a do-over, a new beginning, for the products of genetic engineering. This fits with my analysis of agricultural GMOs as a stalking horse and preliminary experiment toward GE human eugenics, with animal modification a mid-point. And indeed pseudo-precise gene editing already is being used in human eugenic experimentation.
 
There’s more propaganda along those lines in these pieces, including a typical, indeed standard example of the reporter himself asserting “CRISPR is a far more accurate method of modifying genes than scientists have had access to before” instead of reporting this as a claim being made by the developers and sellers, the way a bona fide journalist would. This and other installments comprise a coordinated mainstream media propaganda campaign dedicated to ensuring the retreads are exempt from the meager, usually farcical regulation earlier GMOs were subject to, and to persuading the public to rescind its suspicion of GMOs as such by trying to convince them of all the same “precision” lies which were so evidently false the first time around.
 
This campaign also is a good example of a much greater confusion and lie. In principle science and technological development (engineering) are two completely different, although often related, things. I stress often but not necessarily related, since in the case of genetic engineering we have one of the cases where the technical deployment has nothing to do with the state of the science and indeed runs counter to it. Genetic engineering is based on nothing but determinist junk science and brute force empiricism (best symbolized by the fact that they literally shoot the transgenes into tissue cultured cells with a gun; read Lords of the Harvest for the image of how gene gun experimenters literally got splattered with onion gore; “precision” indeed!) and has almost nothing to do with science. Indeed, the more the actual science of genetics learns, the more geneticists realize how basically ignorant they are about how the genome works, and how impossible it is to attain any kind of “precision” with artificial genetic manipulation. Here’s a recent book (published in 2016) on the state of genetic science, written by a geneticist who is typically pro-GM. That is, no one could accuse her of slanting anything in an anti-biotech way. And yet the book completely demolishes any claim that genetic engineers could ever have the slightest idea what they’re doing and what the effects will be. (The author seems unaware of this; she’s an example of the double-think I described above.) Yet the propaganda of genetic engineering always systematically has conflated engineering with “science”. The media’s propaganda campaign touting gene editing is a typical example.
 
This leads to one of my basic points, that today’s establishment “science” is indeed nothing but the corporate science paradigm. (Cf. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions for his use of the terms “science paradigm” and “normal science”.) Under the corporate science paradigm, “science” is indeed defined as nothing more or less than the development of profitable technologies. From that point of view, GMO deployment would be called “science”. But this has zero to do with the mythology of the scientific method like we were taught in school, and in fact directly contradicts it. Yet the professional liars depend upon the average pseudo-educated reader to conflate the two in their mind.
 
The CRIPSR media campaign boils down to one of the fundamental political lies: [Insert failed policy] had this-or-that problem the hundred times we touted it before, but THIS time we really promise it’ll work, so believe us again and keep submitting. The most amazing thing is that this self-evident mode of lying works, so long as there’s enough people who are still desperate enough to believe the lie. In the case of genetic engineering, the idea and its toolkit of canned lies comprise a proxy for the crumbling, ever more desperate religious faith of middle class Westerners in technocratic “progress”. As I’ve long said, GMOs are most of all a propaganda campaign. Until enough Westerners are willing to face reality and psychologically burn their ships, the GMO idea, and from there the real-world deployment, will continue to have traction. That’s why the “anti-GMO” people as well are so peculiarly ambivalent and modest in their prescriptions: Most of them too are pro-technocracy consumerists whose opposition to one facet of that system (GM/pesticide food) is more a personal fluke than anything based in a coherent opposition to the system of which genetic engineering and eugenics comprise the supreme idea and product.
 
 
Propagate the necessary new ideas.
 
 
 
 
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2 Comments »

  1. Would a worthy proposal be local control through permaculture and hands on food growth? I may not have much say on air quality but at least I have more control of my food lifestyle.

    Comment by Imax-field — November 4, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

    • Absolutely. Permaculture is more of a landscaping supplement to agroecological horticulture. And the more people of a region do that and prevent or drive out industrial polluters, the more they improve their entire environment including the average regional air quality. CAFOs, for example, are horrendous regional air polluters. Prevent or drive them out and you’ll automatically improve your air.

      Comment by Russ — November 5, 2017 @ 8:56 am


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