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economic justice | environment | genetic engineering biodevastation 2004

My response to Brooke

It's really nice that the super-rich in the wealthy countries have "a life" where they can get boutique medical services to address their non-problems.... Pity that the non-super-rich in most of the rest of the world get their lives cut short by completely treatable medical conditions.
First, the story:

(06-09) 17:50 PDT SAN FRANCISCO (AP) --

Actress Brooke Shields told an audience Wednesday that she became a mother because of advances in biotechnology.

Addressing a meeting at BIO 2004, the annual international biotechnology industry convention being held in San Francisco, the 39-year-old Shields credited in vitro fertilization with helping her become pregnant with her daughter, 1-year-old Rowan. She said she was considering going through the treatment again to have a second child.

Shields entertained the audience with stories of how she and her husband, screenwriter Chris Henchy, found creative ways -- and unlikely places -- to administer the daily injections that are required for in vitro fertilization. In one case, she recounted an injection in a basement bathroom stall at the Tribeca Grill, a swank New York restaurant.

Shields said she was puzzled by the anti-biotechnology protesters who had targeted the convention, saying they must not realize how biotechnology can help people.

"Some of these people need to get a life," Shields said.

Shields was joined in her presentation by singer Patti LaBelle.

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Now, my comments:

(article here)

Okay, Brooke. I'll bite.

First, it seems that medical treatments are the biotech industry's replacements for the now flogged-to-death old warhorses "ending hunger and malnutrition" and "reducing pesticide use". Guess there's just been one too many cynic pointing out the unlikelihood of a human being able to eat the -- what, dozen pounds a day or so -- amount of "golden rice" it would take to get enough vitamin A in his or her diet. And the argument about pesticides doesn't particularly go well when the main application of genetic engineering is "roundup ready" crops that let farmers dump more toxic herbicides on their fields. But I digress.

It's really nice that the super-rich in the wealthy countries have "a life" where they can get boutique medical services to address their non-problems. Yes, non-problems. Last time I checked, there was no human underpopulation crisis. And infertility is hardly a life-threatening condition. Oh, I'm sure it's psychologically unpleasant but compared to something that's going to kill you in a matter of days it's a non-problem.

Pity that the non-super-rich in most of the rest of the world get their lives cut short by completely treatable medical conditions. Things like waterborne diseases and common parasites the prevention and treatment of which have been common knowledge for a century or more. Not to mention plain old starvation, the cure for which has been known since before the dawn of history.

I suppose we're to believe that a miracle is somehow about to occur, and for some unexplainable reason the global corporate/capitalist system will suddenly magically develop a heart once a few more years of biotech research takes place. Yeah, right. Personally, I'd rate it as a higher probability that next year the Tooth Fairy will appear in person at Powell's Books signing copies of her newly-published autobiography.

address: address: Portland

Need to understand something 10.Jun.2004 06:45

Mike stepbystepfarm <a> mtdata.com

Otherwise criticism on specific examples are meaningless.

There is a FUNDAMENTAL ethical difference involved. On one hand we have people who do not believe that it is their OBLIGATION to help anybody else -- might be a nice thing to do, might be praiseworthy, but not obligatory. Call these people type X.

Then there are others among us who feel it IS our obligation to help others, to CORRECT unfairness of distribution of the goodies of the world, etc. Who feel that those who do not do so are BAD because they are not fullfilling an obligatory duty. Call these people type Y.

OK --- our critic here says "Pity that the non-super-rich in most of the rest of the world get their lives cut short by completely treatable medical conditions. Things like waterborne diseases and common parasites the prevention and treatment of which have been common knowledge for a century or more. Not to mention plain old starvation, the cure for which has been known since before the dawn of history" FINE --- it's a typical utterance from a person accepting a type Y ethical system. But if intended to be addressed to a person accepting a type X system of ethics it misses the point.

That type X will shrug, may commiserate or even reply "yes it's a pity". Or might say "so?" with a puzzled look on the face.

You don't understand, do you? The critic has made a statement of FACT. Not a statement of Ethics. The FACT that the non-rich are dying, the FACT that diverting "unnecessary" medical resources consumed by the rich could alleviate this is NOT a challenge to the ethical posiiton X. It's simply not enough for the critic to utter facts. Needs to include arguments why the ethical position X is wrong and the ethical position Y is correct.