Contra Costa, Solano County, CA November 7, 2000 Election
Smart Voter

Genetically Engineered Foods and Human Germline Engineering

By Martin Sproul

Candidate for United States Representative; District 7

This information is provided by the candidate
You will not hear about these issues from candidates fearful of angering special interests, but it is crucial for you to know more about them. Please read on.
I have long been out in front on this issue, raising public awareness of the dangers of genetic manipulation. My views have been published in the Sierra Club magazine Sierra, in the University of California alumni magazine Cal Monthly, in Organic Gardening, and in The Nation. I am not a Luddite: I fully appreciate the value of good, careful science undertaken free of the biasing influence of corporate grant money, and motivated by the public interest.

But in agreement with John Hagelin, the nuclear physicist presidential candidate of the Natural Law Party, I am outraged by what's happening to our food supply. The genetic manipulation of food, and the hasty commercialization of these untested foods, poses risks more far-reaching than the advent of nuclear technologies a half century ago.

The scientific community is deeply divided about the safety of genetically engineered foods. Even the FDA's own staff scientists have warned against their unique health risks. Yet the government rushes these foods to market unlabeled and untested. We, the consumers, are being used as guinea pigs in this risky nutritional experiment. Moreover, the environmental risks of these new life-forms are incalculable. After billions of years of gradual evolution of Earth's complex ecosystems, we are about to rewrite the world's genetic library. Who can predict the environmental devastation, the genetic diseases, and the cancers that will result from this radical technology? And while a nuclear disaster "only" lasts 10,000 years, gene pollution is forever. It is self-replicating and irreversible.

Who gave the biotech companies the right to threaten our food and environment? The Clinton/Gore administration and our "Republicrat" Congress--awash in biotech money.

There is also the related issue of techno-eugenics: the manipulation of the human genome to the end of promoting desired characteristics, such as intelligence, ability, health, stamina--perhaps even emotions or qualities such as obedience. Already, we see writers such as Francis Fukuyama and editorials in the Wall Street Journal conditioning the public to accept and even welcome the idea of "designer babies." This favorable spin masks the reappearance of the monstrous ideology of eugenics, the design mastery of man and nature. Such "mastery" would entail control and manipulation of human beings--which just as well could be in the direction of slavery as mastery--without the possibility of consent by those whose genes would be altered. In the case of human germline alteration, the unconsenting populace will include future generations.

Although both major parties have leveled charges of class warfare against the other, neither dinosaur party is willing to address the moral issues raised by a technology that could give that warfare biological weaponry. This is not science fiction, folks: biotech research is just about finished with the mapping of the human genome; it will soon learn how to manipulate the genome in all sorts of ways. Enormous amounts of venture capital will pour in this direction during the next four years. Insurance companies will be eager to know whether your genes predispose you to expensive diseases. And you can be sure that the wealthy, the privileged, and those with inside access to the technologies will want to give their children bionic advantage just as soon as it is available.

We need mandatory labeling and safety testing of genetically engineered foods--plus a moratorium on the release of these experimental life-forms into the environment until proven safe. We also need a ban on human reproductive cloning and germline engineering. Japan and the Netherlands have already taken steps in this direction.

It is crucial that we begin civic dialogue on these issues. The public was excluded from the discussion of genetic engineering of foods, with the result that industry altered major crops and placed countless products intended for human consumption on supermarket shelves everywhere before consumers were even aware of what was going on, let alone consulted about their choice in the matter. This is not supposed to happen in a democracy--this is corporate rule, not government of, by and for the people. If we don't take back our stolen democracy, money and power will make the decisions for us in other major areas affected by technology as well: privacy, medicine and human reproduction. To get our democracy back, we must end special interest control by eliminating PACs and soft money--crucial democratic reforms that will ONLY come from a grassroots, broad-based third party insurrection. Be an agent for progressive change. Vote for Sproul on November 7th!

"[W]e can easily imagine an arms race developing
over GNR [genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics]
technologies, as it did with the NBC [nuclear,
chemical, and biological] technologies in the 20th
century....This time...we aren't in a war...we are
driven, instead, by our habits, our desires, our
economic system, and our competitive need to know."

-- Bill Joy, Chief Scientist and co-founder, Sun
Microsystems, "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us,"
Wired, April 2000

"We should be on our guard not to overestimate
science and scientific methods when it is a
question of human problems; and we should not
assume that experts are the only ones who have
a right to express themselves on questions
affecting the organization of society."

-- Albert Einstein (Time Magazine's "Person
of the Century"), May 1949.

Candidate Page || Feedback to Candidate || This Contest
November 2000 Home (Ballot Lookup) || About Smart Voter

ca/state Created from information supplied by the candidate: November 6, 2000 18:36
Smart Voter 2000 <>
Copyright © 2000 League of Women Voters of California Education Fund.
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.