Coming Soon: Attack of the Enviropigs!

30 07 2007

Enviropigs

By Jill Ettinger

When I was growing up, food technology seemed to mean a new Starburst flavor, or “more crunch” in Cap’n Crunch cereal. Microwave popcorn was avant-garde. But in just the last two decades, advancements in bioengineering hints to a rapidly evolved integration of scientific intelligence and our ever-increasing human curiosity – or perhaps – we’re just crazier than ever. Reading this NY Times article on biotech foods, like the “Enviropig” (I kid you not), emphasized the probability that lunacy, rather than logic, guides our efforts in these expensive explorations. What will we think of next? Jumbled human minds dispense difficulty disguised as logic for no other reason than to untangle itself, insisting on constant innovation. The matrix of rationalization and deduction cloud the obvious, and we toil in false problems with answers of even greater consequence.

According to Andrew Pollack’s article, funding for livestock biotech is slim primarily because of lack of definitions from the FDA. But they’re coming, even though the long-term research doesn’t exist to support safe entry into the food chain. Altered genetic composition has the potential to create food sensitivities and allergies on any scale. Remember the Starlink corn fiasco? Though I’ve nothing more than intuition, living, breathing, mutant animals seem to pose a much greater risk than a stalk of corn.

Though these modern practices enhance megalomania, we’re not strangers to playing God with our environments. Mythological mixed creatures like centaurs and mermaids have existed for thousands of years. Agricultural hybridization dates back to pre-biblical times. Countless cruel and vulgar practices demonstrate that we’ve presumed that that which does not dominate us must belong under our dominion. Whether contrived at the whim of a commanding King or in the haughty pretense of unventilated laboratories of academia, this is marginal compared to their irreversible effects on society and nature. And maybe, that’s just the point. Maybe our purpose amounts to creating noxious pollution and pigs that have been genetically modified to excrete less phosphorous into our water systems, so that the genetically enhanced giant-three-eyed-salmon we eat are healthier.

Whether in the name of science or religion, our myopia verily distills down to War. On the surface, religion drives our violent killing-in-the-name-of’s, but look just below and you’ll see the battle against ourselves born of non sequitur science-fictional manipulation of our organic environment. Why do we do this? Splicing and dicing gene codes is an endless downward spiral of conjecture. Cleaning swine-spoiled water by tinkering around with their cellular structure seems like trying to make raindrops less wet so that they don’t cause a flood. Isn’t the common sense answer to build dams, or avoid it altogether by getting to higher ground?  Isn’t the answer to the complications born of industrialized foods simply less of it?

Genetic exploitation of animals is a precursor to unknown transmutations passed from generation to generation. It’s simply impossible to predict the cellular behavior of future generations. This oversight demonstrates the scariest and most irresponsible aspect of modern science. Sure, we can make a salmon grow twice as big in half the time, but does that really solve any of our food problems – or does it just create more of them?

Maybe the bloody combat wars will begin to subside, but we’re filling in the space with a different kind of genocide. We’re raging against our planet with patents and terminator seeds and Enviropigs. Maybe we’re not developing ways to sustain life, but more ways to destroy it. In The Godfather II, Michael Corleone says, “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.” The ways, of course, are unlimited.

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