Technology replaces Nature
Gregory Stock discusses the controversial issue of germinal choice technology (GCT) in his essay, "The Enhanced and the Unenhanced." Michael Pollan alludes to a potato called the New Leaf Superior that produces its own insecticide in "Playing God in the Garden." While Pollan's essay deals with the role of biotechnology to enhance agricultural products, Stock's essay points to the ways in which technology has helped humans in their development and claims that the genetic choice technology in particular will be the next hope for humanity. After reading Pollan, my views on the unnaturalness of technology, as well as its effects on diversity, are the same as they were prior to reading his essay. I believe that genetic engineering, in general, is unnatural, will be detrimental to the natural, can possibly be very dangerous, and will ultimately destroy national diversity.
Stock argues, "We are as natural a part of the world as anything else is, and so is the technology we create"(Stock 569). He is basically classifying humans as a part of nature. Therefore, according to Stock, since humans are nature, anything they create is natural by means of the laws of association. However, if we were to put Stock's theory into practice, then everything on Earth would be natural. For instance, a computer, a man-made breakthrough in technology, is natural according to Stock. As a result, I believe Stock's opinion on what constitutes naturalness is absurd. The altering of human DNA to allow for the selection of desired traits is not natural. I believe that human influence on a natural process will ultimately make the process unnatural.
There are several negative side effects to biotechnology. Pollan explains how "the bacterial toxin produced in my (Pollan's) New Leafs happens to be the same insecticide organic growers have relied on for decades"(Pollan 403). This can cause a major problem for organic growers as Pollan writes, "The widespread use of Bt in biotech crops is likely to lead to insect resistance, thus robbing organic growers of one of their most critical tools"(Pollan 403). Massive usage of Bt can cause the insects to build a resistance to the insecticides the organic growers use to free their crops from bugs. Thus, the growth of these genetically engineered potatoes will inevitably lead to the decline of naturally grown potatoes.
More importantly, the rise of genetically altered humans will lead to the downfall of natural people. Genetically enhanced children will have huge advantages over those without any altered genes. Everyone will be forced to use GCT or else they will be at a huge disadvantage. Those with exceptional natural genes will no longer be viewed as impressive. Stock states, "One social problem that might attend germinal choice technology, if it really can give our children raw talents, would be that such enhanced abilities would soon be less special"(Stock 563). Stock tries to defend GCT usage by discussing how "those who are clumsy, inarticulate, unattractive, slow-witted
are at a great disadvantage"(Stock 563). He believes that life is unfair for those who are not fortunate enough to have been given desirable genes. I believe that people should just accept the hand they are dealt with. If they are unhappy with some of their characteristics, then they should try to improve them the natural way: through training. World-wide acceptance of genetical engineering will bring an end to all that is natural.
All forms of biotechnology will always be accompanied by risk and uncertainty. "Uncertainty is the theme that unifies much of the criticism leveled against biotech agriculture by scientists and environmentalists"(Pollan 406). A great deal of research has to be conducted before one can claim whether or not a genetically altered vegetable can cause several health risks if consumed. Pollan states Margaret Millon's opinion that we know very little about...
Cited: Stock, Gregory. "The Enhanced and the Unenhanced." The New Humanities Reader. Eds. Richard E. Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
Pollan, Michael, "Playing God in the Garden." The New Humanities Reader. Eds. Richard E. Miller and Kurt Spellmeyer. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
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