Speaking to the Save the Nu-Buy Supermart Committee 21/7/98
Tampering With Nature?
'Genetics is an issue which will gain in importance in the years ahead.
It is an issue that we must approach with a sense of responsibility and maturity and there are a number of considerations which must be weighed carefully.
One is the issue of employment and the second is the issue of the production of food (and we all know that famine for large parts of the world is a terrifying reality, as is the problem of unemployment.)
The third thing to be considered is the consequences of what some might see as 'tampering with nature'.
Think Globally- Act Locally.
There is a slogan which found a good deal of currency some years ago (I believe it originated with the Green Party). The slogan was: 'think globally and act locally' . We could look down on a planet in which many people are starving and as we search for an answer to that problem our gaze may fall on Cramley's own Tempex Industries.
You may know that Tempex are developing an orange which continues to grow and ripen after it has been picked. There are obvious advantages to the Citrus Senensis Maxima (which some of you may know as the Cramley Super Orange) The orange is cheaper to transport as it gains weight once it has reached its destination.
The question of whether it is right to place a gene extracted from the embryo of a cow into the genes of the orange presents itself to us. Many of us have an instinctive aversion to what some might call 'tampering with nature' but some times our instincts lead us from the most equitable path.
Let's address the question of the possible good which could derive from such work.
Locally it has the advantage of providing much needed employment to the people of Cramley, it also helps Cramley move towards a high skilled, high tec economy.
Globally we can see that these developments are ecologically advantageous (as less fuel is burned in transportation of oranges the threat of global warming is reduced) and humanly advantageous ( as this technology can be applied to feeding the world's hungry)'.
Let's Be Responsible.
'Finally I would like to raise the idea of responsible stewardship and apply that idea locally and globally.
We are stewards of the earth and we must take our stewardship seriously.
In my capacity of the moderator of the ethics committee at the research and development annex at Cramley University I try to give a fair hearing to all sides of the argument. The fact that Tempex are willing to facilitate that open debate by funding a portion of the project is also a positive thing and if we are to move forward on these issues with mature sobriety we need to each make a contribution.
It would be too easy for me to have a knee-jerk reaction and go with what my gut tells me and say: 'ban all genetic experimentation'. But what would have happened to those women who were previously unable to have children but have now experienced the miracle of birth largely because of advances in our understanding of genetics through embryonic research?
I am also reminded of the story of ancient Egypt.
The great grain surpluses which were the foundation for that great civilisation were founded on the hybridisation of two forms of wheat. One type of wheat had a large grain which were few in number and the other had a large number of grains which were not very big. The result of this 'genetic engineering' was an ear of wheat with a great number of large grains.
So we might owe a great deal to what some might call 'tampering with nature'.'
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