Fire / Feu

                     

 

Une vue écocentrique des OGM

À chaque fois
que j’entends une
discussion dans les
médias concernant
les débats
d’éthique reliés à
la recherche sur
les cellules
embryonnaires et
sur le clonage des
humains, je pense
à l’éthique relative
aux OGM
(organismes
génétiquement
modifiés).

Comment peut-il
être acceptable de
faire le clonage
artificiel ou la
modification
génétique d’un
non humain s’il
est inacceptable
de cloner ou de
modifier un
humain? Les
humains s’arrogent
le droit de faire tout
ce qui est possible,
sauf lorsqu’il s’agit
des choses qui
affectent les autres
humains. Peut-être
que l’on devrait
s’efforcer de
trouver un gène
d’humilité dans
un gorille et de
l’insérer dans un
humain volontaire,
et ensuite accélérer
la reproduction de
cet humain de sorte
à créer un monde
meilleur par
l’élimination
graduelle des
humains agressifs
et arrogants. Cela
serait sûrement plus
moral que de créer
des plantes
toxiques et des
poissons
monstrueux.

An Ecocentric View
of GMOs

Martin Willison

Halifax, Nova Scotia
February 2002

very time I hear discussion in the news media of the ethical debates over stem cell research and human cloning, I think about the ethics of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). How can it be acceptable to artificially clone or genetically modify a non-human, if it's unacceptable to clone or modify a human?


(photo: Monsanto)

It's possible to ask a human "May I do this?" Did anyone ask the parent of the GMO salmon whether it wanted to have offspring that grow like crazy? Who asked the parent of the GMO potato whether it wanted to have a body that makes an insect toxin? Who asks the GMO corn plants whether they want to produce pollen that kills butterflies? Do herbicide-tolerant plants want to grow in toxic fields?

Humans arrogantly assume the right to do what is possible, except when it comes to things that affect other humans. There is no strong ethical basis for this, and thus I regard the moralizing over human cloning to be a smokescreen for the real debate. The real debate should be over whether it is right or wrong to transmit genes across natural incompatibility barriers, regardless of the species involved in the experiments. According to standard ethics in the social sciences, if experiments are to be done, then they should be done with the consent of the subject. Since the non-human subjects cannot consent, then it is logically immoral to transfer foreign genes to them.


(photo: Monsanto)

In my view, either humans should be the subjects of genetic modification, or it should not be done at all. Perhaps we should try to find a gene for humility in a gorilla and insert it in a willing human, and then out-breed this modified human aggressively, so as to make a better world. That would surely be more moral than to create poisonous plants and monstrous fish.