2/08/2006

Mangoes,Intelligently Designed?

"In effect, nature is not a sacred or divine reality that man must leave alone . . . The human person does not commit an illicit act when, out of respect for the order, beauty and usefulness of individual living beings and their function in the ecosystem, he intervenes by modifying some of their characteristics or properties." INTERESTING.

Once again, annoying liberals pester the Vatican and other global bodies of influence to adopt Givadammism as a stance on world hunger. But there's a twist: what about foods that have been genetically modified, A.K.A. 'intelligently designed'? Further, are these foods still the product of creationism? At what point should humans intervene in the procreation choices of agriculture? And if such foods are permissable, why can't humans be modified via birth control?
Let's take a look at these curious positions: (continued) The Organic Consumer's Association has an article on the conflicting views taken by the Vatican regarding GMO food as a way to address world hunger. Behold:

"If the Vatican were to endorse genetically modified organisms, it would have a profound impact on global discussion of the issue. With a flock of 1.1bn faithful, the Roman Catholic church's ethical messages penetrate the whole world.

But GMOs are a divisive issue in the church, pitting clergymen sympathetic
to their use (who have enthusiastic support from the US embassy to the Holy
See) against others who express opposition.

The most authoritative Vatican statement on GMOs appeared in a 2004
publication, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, prepared
by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In a passage
devoted to safeguarding man's environment, the council pleased supporters of
GMOs by stating: "In effect, nature is not a sacred or divine reality that
man must leave alone . . . The human person does not commit an illicit act
when, out of respect for the order, beauty and usefulness of individual
living beings and their function in the ecosystem, he intervenes by
modifying some of their characteristics or properties."

However, opponents seized on another pair of sentences in the compendium
that said: "The authorities called to make decisions concerning health and
environmental risks sometimes find themselves facing a situation in which
available scientific data are contradictory or quantitatively scarce. It may
then be appropriate to base evaluations on the precautionary principle."

Back up. Say that again! "In effect, nature is not a sacred or divine reality that man must leave alone . . . The human person does not commit an illicit act when, out of respect for the order, beauty and usefulness of individual living beings and their function in the ecosystem, he intervenes by modifying some of their characteristics or properties."
Does this statement surprise anyone around here?

36 comments:

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

how about birth control for mangoes?

Kvatch said...

But there's a twist: what about foods that have been genetically modified, A.K.A. 'intelligently designed'?

Humans have been genetically modifying their food for about 3000 years. So we're better at it than we used to be? Big deal?

Mangoes could definitely benefit from some genetic manipulation. How's about we start with making 'em less sticky? (Oops more liberal heresy!)

(Cool photo BTW. Like the Carmen Miranda meets Frankenstein theme.)

enigma4ever said...

great post....love the Dali does the Pope....
and hmm, about Intelligent Anything...
there is nothing that can be intelligently redisigned at this point-
except jeans for women over 35- that would be welcome...
and better Chocolate yogurt....
and maybe lettece that wouldn't go limp....

okay I could go on and on....

Anonymous said...

As a non-believer, I'll go out on a limb here & say since we as humans created our own creator as well as the concept of creationism, both being products of intelligent but bored minds, then of course intelligently designed vegetables etc are products of creationism. OK, you can pound me with those buick-sized mangoes now. D.K.

AJ said...

"...both being products of intelligent but bored minds..."

Pat Robertson has a few buick sized ones comin at you as we speak, young man.
Get yourself into a good Christian Church.
Preferably Westboro Baptist.

*o, and stay away from San Fransisco...

Kvatch said...

stay away from San Fransisco...

Damn straight. We're about to be smote (smited?) even as we speak.

Anonymous said...

AJ, I'm not worried. Pat's buicks must be hangin so low at this point they make a train-track screech as he slides into the room. So unless I feel like facing the 3-toed demon, I'll be long gone by then. D.K.

Brandon said...

"In effect, nature is not a sacred or divine reality that
man must leave alone . . . The human person does not commit an illicit act
when, out of respect for the order, beauty and usefulness of individual
living beings and their function in the ecosystem, he intervenes by
modifying some of their characteristics or properties."

BUT a married couple with a fertility issue can't use artificial means to produce a child that is fully human without the extra added genetic ingredients.

Hello. Real life to the Vatican! Did I miss something here?

This is the same kind of irrational thinking that the cult in Rome has been spewing for decades and it's just as foolish and self contradicting now as it was then.

When a couple goes to a fertility clinic to get pregnant they are not mixing duck and goldfish genes into the genetic makeup of their unborn child, but according to the Catholic party line that's wrong

On the other hand, Mother Nature has created very definite limits on the types of species which can create viable offpsring. If by some wild, horrific chance a leopard and a buffalo were to copulate they would not be able to produce off spring. If a human being and pig were to copulate they would not be able to produce offspring. In other words, only closely related species are able to reproduce and then the offspring are usually sterile.

But now the Cult in Rome has decided that an abomination containing God knows what kind of genes is acceptable, that we can manipulate nature to create something which by its very definition is unnatural, while a fully human child with a fully human genetic code conceived by artificial means is not.

Am I the only one who sees this as a tad self-contradicting?

some_maineiac said...

wow, talk about food for thought, lily...i've never given much serious thought to the problem, and i'd have to say right now that i would back a traditionalist view in that we've been doing pretty good with selective breeding in plants for 8,000 years now and we ought to leave well enough alone for the time being...there's a big gray area in GMO's in which to draw a line, because the further you go with that demarcation, the closer you come to genetic modification of humans, and IMO that's definitely a bad idea now, because our species is nowhere near enlightened enough to prevent hitler's vision of a race of supermen, or huxley's pre-programmed baby factories...IMO the problem with food production in the US is the forgotten practice of crop rotation, and the use of too much chemical fertilizers and pesticides...not to mention all the crap that gets injected into beef cattle to keep them "healthy" and make 'em grow big and nevermind the stuff that goes into their feed...exporting those practices to impoverished areas of the globe in an effort to make them self-sufficient is a bad idea, again IMO...

i do pretty well with my organic vegetable garden and what i can't can or freeze i give away...i refuse to buy supermarket beef or those gigantic strawberries from CA (they don't taste right and i feel weird after eating them)...the country store has a statewide supplier for beef and i rely somewhat on the belief that beef producers in this state have some sense of the right way to do things...can't feed the world from my garden, though, so about the best i can do is act locally...

Brandon said...

Humans have been genetically modifying their food for about 3000 years. So we're better at it than we used to be? Big deal?

Easily one of the most misleading and disingenuous lines that corporate America spews whenever it wants to play God with the natural world.

The big deal is that we're talking about mixing genes from species which could never possibly breed nor produce viable, fertile offpsirng in nature.

How many times in the last 3,000 years have you seen a cross between a cabbage and a Norway rat? There's a hell of a difference between breeding for given certain characteristics within the same species, between various cultivars (or even cross breeding between closely related species) and crossing a horse with a dandelion. But the companies involved seem to think that they can play genetic roulette with life on this planet. To paraphrase that wonderful line from Jurrasic Park, "they spent so much time figuring out that they could that they didn't take the time to figure out if they should."

Earl Bockenfeld said...

Lily, Valentine's Day is coming and, I'd be off my noodle...
If you'd be mine.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

Way down deep in the middle of the congo,
The hippo took an apricot, a guava and a mango,
He stuck it with the others and he danced a dainty tango,
The rhino said 'I know, we'll call it Um Bungo'
(Um Bungo Um Bungo they drink it in the congo)
The python picked a passion fruit,
The marmoset a mandarin,
The parrot painted packets that the whole caboodle landed in,
So when it comes to sun and fun and goodness in the jungle,
They all prefer the sunny funny one they call Um Bungo!
Yes, I was singing along this morning, and afterwards I groaned at how very very sad I am.

Brandon said...

Actually I subscribe to the Dish Washing Dtergent theory of creation. We were all once a highly condensed bottle of Ivory Liquid, but were dispersed throughout the cosmos when The Godess dropped the (then) glass bottle and stepped on it.

lily said...

Yes, I knew Earl was a bonafide pastafarian!

You guys have been great to indulge me with this conversation, by the way. Sometimes I think its best to present the joke and let us create our own punch lines.

Yes, examples like fertility, stem cell research, contraception...many examples of contradiction come to mind. And if I might suggest a macro-snark, I think its also typical that we look to technology to solve what we cannot solve with empathy,decency, humanity, and justice. How ironic that GMO crops would on one hand supposedly solve world hunger but on another, destroy small farmers. And create more global poverty. Is it so ridiculous to suggest some fair trade? Or worse and more politically incorrect- to suggest that the vast wealth of the church be used to minister to the world's most vulnerable?

Anonymous said...

No, I'll stick with we (humankind) are the creators. A few months ago I read that some research lab was injecting human brain cells into their mice. Their response to the journalist's concern over "manimals" was ... "oh, if any mice start displaying any human characteristics, we naturally destroy them"!! Doesn't this smack of Thou shalt have no other gods before me ? D.K.

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

"Does this statement surprise anyone around here?"

As a life-long Catholic, I was taught years ago that suprise is sinful. Thus, I cannot be suprised.

But nice try, blasphemer!

Anonymous said...

Lot of talk about these manimals lately.. we need the Bjork/Banderas Manimal to make an appearance... he's like this mythic commenter.

So lets get this straight, no stem cells, fertility treatment, contraception... or manimals. Dogma is so time consuming.

Anonymous said...

Dogma is so time consuming. And time is so dogma consuming. I think I was born about 25,000 years too late. D.K.

granny said...

Pastafarian! LOL

Thanks for clearing up the difference between hybridization and natural selection with genetic alteration (very very bad stuff by the way).

The National Council of Churches is planning a biotechnology conference next year:

http://www.ncccusa.org/news/0620127bioconference.html

I thought I saw another progressive Christian site bring it up but I can't find it.

Rich said...

""The human person does not commit an illicit act
when, out of respect for the order, beauty and usefulness of individual
living beings and their function in the ecosystem, he intervenes by
modifying some of their characteristics or properties.""

I guess that is the sanction for sterilzation if I ever read one. I wonder if that is also an endorsement for lobotomies? I know where we can start.

Bitch said...

Rediculously obvious, Lily, that "vast wealth" could indeed resolve so very much in the way of inequity: and not just the "CHURCH" but monetary excess in every disguise. One fourth of our military budget redirected would result in domestic and foreign alleviation of hunger and poverty, restore and initiate social programs world-wide and hint that underneath our excesses, we in America, care.

A United Way spokesperson researched for me why they have no programs to send winter clothes to Pakistan....too "expensive". Well, these days what is too expensive is controlled by the wealthy and, as throughout history, the true measure of mankind's loss of humanity and hence morality. Or is that visa versa?

Anonymous said...

Take Pause, you made excellent points and I don't want to pick on you-but I need to address one part because it is a common misunderstanding about orgs like United Way, Red Cross, etc.

I want to speak to it because I worked with relief organizations, and the media is good at reporting that 'doctors'or 'clothing' etc. are scornfully turned away. But consider the greed of people that spend fifty bucks on their take out food, but send their old sweaters to 'help'. They create a logistic challenge that burdens aid workers already spread thin.

But its not about shunning coats or greed, its about practicality very often, the dilemma of the ways people try to 'help'. Like getting in their cars and running to a disaster to 'help' and then being turned away like they are 'unwanted'. Its just a lot to manage, people don't understand the difference between helping and standing in the way! People like to gather their used shoes and send them to victims but this creates a huge burden on people struggling to help people survive! They care about the crisis, not about accommodating humanitarian designs! Let them communicate about what they need, they know and are WITH the people.

That form of help is very inefficient and very expensive and there is little budgeted for the transport of much of this stuff. Send money, pressure your elected reps to help, keep things on the radar. Far better.

Picture a devastated region- like after Katrina, and picture thousands of people sending clothing of all different sizes,to homeless people! With flooded storage! Now it might sound absurd to suggest that this is not helpful- counter intuitive. It helps some people, sure.But real help is not doing what WE THINK will help, but what the victims need. And they tend not to need truckloads of bric-a-brac. Sell it home,and send them the money!!!There are the costs to truck it down, the logistics of storage, the staffing to go through them, wash them, sort them by size...it would take a warehouse and hundreds of people just to handle the amount of stuff! People get very angry when their used coats and shirts are quote "not wanted" but there are very concrete reasons for this that have nothing to do with greed and lack of care in that particular case. Its about logistics. Thats why they say if you really want to help, send money. Because money gives a person the ability to go into a Salvation Army and buy TEN shirts,or diapers, or aspirin,or make a phone call... money is just more efficient than people cleaning out their closets.

Do you know how many people sent thousands of bags of stuff after the WTC disaster on 9-11? They had to use football stadiums! Who could handle such massive distribution? It makes people feel good, and there's nothing wrong with that. But why not trust the people directly working with survivors on their experience?

Why would one spend the equivalent of fifty dollars to get a used coat to Pakistan? Its a 'feel good' answer but not sensible! People think its a free way to pitch in, but its not free to get a truckload of coats to Pakistan. Do you think people are lining up to drive them around remote villages? The gas would cost more than the coats. It took twenty dollars to send me a jacket I left in Asharoken. Aid orgs have an obligation to tell people what works and hope they will hear it.

Drew said...

Anon,

I can see your arguement on the logistics of aid distribution, but I think what you don't realize is that many people, myself included, have distrust for non-profit agencies and how they handle and distribute cash donations. Remember, after 9/11 there were several charitable organizations that either misused or completely 'disappeared' contributions that should have went to victims or victim families. After Katrina, there were a few instances of Red Cross workers (most notably from my old home town of Bakersfield, CA) outright soliciting and pocketing donations. Many people send tangibles because they feel that these items will be put to good use and not simply squandered.

It's kind of like this. I used to stop at this gas station on the way to work every day and buy a coffee. A homeless man would sometimes stop me and ask for change, claiming he hadn't eaten, and I would willingly give him any excess I had. Once I stopped by later in the day and the guy was sitting out behind the gas station drinking a very cheap and probably horrible tasting wine, wrapped of course in a paper sack. Of course, I should have known that this is what my change was going towards. The next time he asked me for change, I offered to take him to the McDonalds across the street and buy him breakfast. He refused of course, and never asked for change again.
Okay, I know that that is kind of a stupid analogy, but the point is that when people send goods, or try to get involved, they feel that they are doing more good than just sending cash to somewhere that they have no idea of how it will be used.

Lily said...

I hear you, Dog, but I also wonder what happens to all the stuff that these places can't handle? What about combining the thoughts of both of you and having an organization that works on 'wishlisting"? Like Salvation Army or Goodwill? You give money/goods in the form of store credit, then people can use this 'currency' to get things. The Salvation Army could do this, and then give twenty dollar vouchers to people in need to buy used clothing. You donate ten bags where you live, then you know x amount of stuff in another area will be given as a barter?

This seems to speak to the suspicion aspect, and yet also the desire to have donated goods managed and dealt with in non-wasteful manners. I understand the suspicions about money- the United Way does not have the best history with spending wisely. If you knew the salaries of some of the executives! They SAY they must pay alot to get the talent to be successful and ultimately, do good. But some places give ten CENTS for every dollar you donate to actual people in the form of direct aid!

When I went to school in NYC, I would leave broke. It took me years to learn to walk past people asking, to become that 'type' of person. It used to horrify me, naive suburban girl, to see people step over homeless people. But eventually, you start to ask yourself how long you can give money to everyone you pass. But it felt so wrong not to. You turn up your iPod, you look straight ahead... and that is what we do with ALL poverty, hunger, suffering. We know its there but we learn NOT to see. We walk straight ahead.

teh l4m3 said...

Well otherwise, the wording certainly leaves a lot of wiggle room for mining, oil, timber, and other exploitative industries.

So no, I'm not surprised.

tp said...

But does the wording leave wiggle room for depleted uranium poisoning?

Anonymous said...

Excellent points about charities. Lots of things I hadn't thought about. In Utah there's something called Deseret Industries which has programs like the vouchers you described, Lily. Deseret is only in Utah & other mormon areas & yes there is the religious aspect of it (similar to Salvation Army), but I wonder if something like that COULD work on a global scale.

Another point is when you give anything but money during one of these ever-more-frequent crises, NOT to earmark it for the crises. If what you are donating is NOT cash (which can be earmarked), let the local charity use it locally. When local charities work together, they can more effectively pool their excess goods & ship what they know can be handled by the people at the crisis scene.

And another idea about giving to homeless panhandlers: buy & carry some McDonalds coupons that you can hand them. I've seen some pretty grubby people come in there & redeam them for meals. yes, some will go for the cash equiv, but it's more likely since they have to go inside McD & can smell those oily fries that they will actually use the coupon for food. D.K.

Brandon said...

I personally have a problem with faith-based charities.

Some churches actually make an effort to separate the religious compontents from the charity work. But if the present Administration in Washington gets its way they will use the food and services they offer as hooks to drag people into the church. Here in Wisconsin we have a state Constitution which specifically forbids giving tax money to religious schools and yet we have the GOP trying to expand the school voucher system to include more students. I'm, all in favor of parents sending their children to the schools that they desire for their children, but here in Wisconsin we have a number of interesting situations.

1. Most of the religious schools involved with this program are Catholic Schools--which seems a little ironic considering the fact that the church sex scandal and the push for private education took place at virtually the same time. (As a side thought it seems to me that if the Catholic Church is so damned conerned about poverty and hunger that it might want to reconsider its take on birth control, sell off a few of its hoarded treasures and art objects, and dedicate more time and effortt to the enpowerment and education of women.) That aside, if we're going to funnel tax dollars into private religious institutions will we not eventually arrive at a point where we are diverting public tax dollars into churches under the pretense that they are feeding anc clothing people when those churches are actually proselytizing, using tax dollars to coerce and convert the psychologically desperate?

Secondly, we have a number of large, right wing foundations here who are ROLLING in extra dough. But do they cough up some of that money to actually help the poor inner city kids who they claim that they want to help? No. They use it to run political campiagns, both for right wing politicians and for ad campaigns for school voucher programs. Is it my imagination or is that more about political power than charity?

I'm sorry, but none of this constitutes charity. It's an exploitation of people in a desperate situation, classic examples of the misuse of power over the powerless.

Lily said...

Brandon,
That was part of my contention when I posted on the relationship between austerity social welfare and the return to reliance on religious institutions to fill the void. I think you have made some excellent cogent points this comment thread, and as always, give me many things to consider which is why it is always a pleasure when you pop in. Actually, somebody asked me this morning what we 'get' out of blogging. What DO we get? We get discussion, cumulative dialogue with no restictions on input. People can be anymous and play devil's advocate, or simply express agreement or support.

Anonymous said...

People can be anymous? Does that belong on the other post?????hehehe

Earl Bockenfeld said...

French critic of Mosanto and genetically modified crops is denied entry into U.S.. Apparently critics of Big Business are now considered terrorists as well.

Lily said...

Thanks Earl, You are so on top of things. So this incident makes me wonder about the whole 'definition of eco-terror' matter, or political activists, those that engage in defiant acts... is it because of who he is, or what he has DONE I wonder? Gee. CEO's that permit huge toxic spills, are they allowed to roam freely? Are they a menace threat? Who makes this call, anyway?

Brandon said...

txclx"Apparently critics of Big Business are now considered terrorists as well"


And promptly spied upon too. Is it a coincidence that Bush sees vegetarians, environmentalists, and quakers (jeez!) as potential sources of terrorism?

tp said...

Isn't it true that environmental groups and peace groups are high on the watchdog list? (well, and the Quakers!)

Anonymous said...

No mention of the UC San Diego "THC Mango"? The University of Hawaii "THC Guava"? The University of Oregon "THC Persimmon"? Aren't these the important things?

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