Zbeeswax's picture
Isn't it true that the endeavor of biotechnology is basically well meaning but subject to the myopia of the widely accepted philosophy that humans can do things better than nature? Stated differently, when these organisms are removed from controlled conditions and released into a conditionless state (ie reality) is it possible the perceived superiority of these organisms may become null and void?

A:Expert Answer

Humans do many things better than nature. Human medicine attacks huge numbers of naturally existing microbes, insects, worms and pets that kill and maim us and our plants and animals. Nature is not always wise--the world can be a very nasty environment for our children and us. If we are going to live on the planet we will have to intervene and alter it to some extent to survive.
Still it is true that in trying to alter nature one of the biggest threats is the unexpected spread of an altered or artificially introduced species‹think of the havoc kudzu, Asian chestnut blight, zebra mussels and sea lampreys among others have done. In fact, introduced species (not including humans) are a greater threat to natural biodiversity than pollution or diseases.  So in engineering nature we do need strict controls over release, auditing, and labeling of engineering genes to allow traceability and liability and sometimes engineering in lethal genes that will cause engineered animals and plants to die after a few generations. International agreements are not as strong as they should be in this regard.

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