Optimism Called Real Risk with 'Frankenfood'
has entered the frankenfood debate. And a Sac State researcher
worries Pollyanna is winningpotentially at the risk of our health.
Philosophy professor Stanislaus Dundon says the biggest danger posed by
genetically engineered foods may be irrational exuberance
on the part of its supporters. The veteran educator on ethical issues
fears the unbridled push toward genetic engineering is drowning out discussion
Dundon has carried out extensive interviews with researchers on both sides
of the issue as well as industry representatives. He has testified before
the California Legislature about genetically engineered foods. He was
also interviewed by National Public Radio and spoke to the American Chemical
Association on the topic.
The enthusiasm has gotten to the point you can only say positive
things to avoid looking hostile, he says. There is a tendency
to not want to be seen as an activist. Dundon says he is often labeled
anti genetic engineering because of his calls for caution.
That characterization is cause for concern, he says. If we have
publicly funded universities in favor of genetic engineering without critical
voices, we will be in major trouble.
Part of the problem lies in with the federal government, Dundon says.
The FDA promotes the principle of substan- tial equivalence,
which says genetic engineering is essentially the same as standard breeding.
Even though, Dundon says, its easy to imagine
a scenario where the manipulation of the genes may make the product hazardous
Dundon says the risks are not a deep secret. The concern is that
if something bad happens with the bioengineered food, what happens next?
What is the responsibility? This is something theyre trying to feed
He says universities should have independent institutes conduct risk/benefit
analysis on genetically engineered food products.