Question: Is genetic engineering a bad thing?
Glenn Roberts: Genetic engineering is not a bad thing
because even if it were, it’s not going to go away. I have geneticist
friends who have no barriers whatsoever moving from conventional
breeding... which means we’re using a microscope and we’re taking
genetics out of one thing and putting it in another thing, that’s
conventional breeding. Whereas we’re bombarding something with
radiation from something else and splicing genes and doing all kinds of
nanotechnology, they have no trouble walking back and forth. I don’t
think that genetic engineering is a bad thing if we know its impact.
And I think that just as much on the conventional side, I can raise
issues about invasive species on a conventional basis that are more
deleterious. Bamboo. We all love bamboo, don’t we? It is a threat in
the South because of just people planting it just for fun. Well, it
never goes away. Dig 100 feet down, it’s still there.
weedy rice in the South that’s still there from before the Civil War
that took down rice fields where you can’t farm the rice fields. So, I
have examples that are every bit as deleterious as what we might imagine
from genetic engineering that have been here continuously for our
existence here in America, certainly. And so I could say "Do I want to
focus on genetic engineering?" The answer is, I don’t at all. I don’t
have time. Am I kind of leery of it? Yes, I am. I was trained in the
sciences as a college student. So, I’m concerned about the long-term
processes and how we evaluate this and whether the evaluation is
thorough or whether we are trying to satisfy a profit motive in a
business stream. I’m sensitive to that. By the same token I think
there are things being done in research that may be rushing... may be
perceived as rushing the results, to put it in lay terms.
Recorded on April 28, 2010
Interviewed by Priya George