GENTECH archive


Re US FDA and turning point, archive 2386, 2387

>Herve wrote:
>you wrote about the turnpoint ad :
>>(1) The FDA has not been forced to claim anything.
>Then it is more serious and we can even not forgive. have a look at

What Ligotti doesn't mention in this web posting (but is shown in Chemical
and Engineering News from 13 December) is that the letters and memos that
are reported to show dissension in the FDA are now at least 7 years old and
come from the early days of the agency sorting out what it would do.  Do
you still believe everything that you believed 7 years ago?  Perhaps you
do, but most people are prepared to change their minds as new evidence
emerges, as has happened for the GMO crop registrations.  In the
mid-1970's, virtually all geneticists agreed that genetic engineering had
risks and instituted the now famous Asilomar moratorium. Within a few
years, with the benefit of more information, it was agreed that the risks
were over-rated, and now almost no geneticists would argue that the vast
majority of experiments banned in 1975 are risky.

>Do not you acknowledge that microbiology has already done
>such chimeras ?

Rick replies: No

>>Rick wrote:
>>How do we begin to quantify the size or weight of a lie to judge which are
>>ok and which aren't?
>>Herve wrote:
>The prototype of the error of the scientist. When I say two things are
>different, I donot claim that the difference may be measurable.

Rick replies:
And how then can you say objectively that one is greater than the other?  I
suffer from the desire of scientists to be objective, but I don't find that
to be an error.

Herve wrote
>I won't answer more on this point. If you do not understand, re-read my
>e-mails or ask to some friend to explain to you. this point was clear in my
>first post.

Rick replies:  I think I understand you very clearly.  I just don't believe it.

>Herve wrote:
>Moreover, please stop refering to french. Science
>works on a reductionnist model also in france OK. I have never thought that
>the fact that I was french could make this right for me !

Rick replies: Sorry, Herve, this was not meant to be negative. It simply
occurred to me that the first example that came to mind was Pasteur, in a
brilliant piece of work, and struck me as a coincidence that I was writing
to France.

>Herve wrote:
>Once again, I hate biotechs not specially because they are american,
>but for the principle.
>By the way, biotech are as much european (and also french) as american.
>Does it convince you that I'm not fighting against americans  but for a
>principle ?

Herve: I am struck less by whether you see this as American or not, but
that you "hate" biotech.  I am convinced that for you, and I suspect many
others on this list, this is an emotional reaction, and not objective.

Rick continues:

I thank François Dubreuil for complimenting my ability to stay calm in all

François, I believe that you are at least partly correct in arguing that
the real objection to genetic engineering  comes from the fact that it
is presented as a progress and yet appears to many as leading no where.
Still, I am alarmed by the suggestion "what is our world going to look like
if we keep on letting scientists freely investigate it ?"  How would you
stop investigation?  We have had despots try in the past, to no good end.
People, whether we call them scientists or not, are intensely curious.

I will defend some GE crops, but share the same reservations as most or all
people on this list about  genetically enhancing humans, and I suspect the
vast majority of scientists would agree with us.  Fortunately, anything
beyond a modest ability to cure some diseases lies beyond anyone's
forseeable technical

However, I don't believe that scientific progress is challenging the very
values we have. I see it our students. Their values are shaped by their
families and friends, not by science. Science will continue to operate
within those values, and legislation will insure that no renegade
scientists will differ from this path. Violence on film and print,
especially towards women, is far more a threat to values than science.