Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Al Gore's Critics - Friend, or Enemy, of Biotech?

It's no secret that Albert Gore Jr. is not universally beloved by the population. Some people oppose Gore, calling him a Luddite who opposes the biotech industry:

When biotech Luddite Jeremy Rifkin wrote Algeny-a diatribe against gene-based drug development in which he implied that the human life span should revert to that enjoyed before the Bronze Age so that mankind could be closer to nature-it was Al Gore who wrote the glowing blurb that Rifkin has given us "an insightful critique of the changing way in which mankind views nature."

Others oppose Gore, calling him a corporate opportunist who is too friendly to the biotech industry:

From the viewpoint of U.S. foreign policy, genetically modified seeds offer a key advantage over traditional seeds: because genetically modified seeds are patented, it is illegal for a farmer to retain seed from this year's crop to plant next year. To use these patented seeds, farmers must buy new seed from Monsanto every year. Thus a farmer who adopts genetically modified seeds and fails to retain a stock of traditional seeds could become dependent upon a transnational corporation. Nations whose farmers grew dependent upon corporations for seed might forfeit considerable political independence. The Clinton/Gore administration has been aggressively helping Monsanto promote ag-biotech, bypassing U.S. health and safety regulations to promote new, untested gene-altered products.

At first I was mystified, until I realized that the word "biotech" was being used to describe two different things - drug biotechnology, and agricultural biotechnology.

Probably worth some further exploration...


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