Something bothers me around the GMO Foods discussion in libertarian circles and that is that there does not seem to be enough treatment to what responsible and ethical action looks like with the ability to author life and living structure.
I make no arguments that anyone should mistake as a need for government regulation. I am putting out a cry that if we do not better understand how ethical action is manifest in these technologies that pitfalls will not be well understood until too late.
Are there legitimate questions of principle for how GMO Foods are or are not labled?
It is reasonable to assume in light of some 100+ years of fascist implementation that GMO products could be an issue that is used to destroy freedoms wholesale. We know what happens when someone’s irresponsible action causes so much fear in so many that principled social reaction will be impossible. Progressives have already begun influencing the debate and we are failing to answer it. I think that people who express concern over GMOs are doing so on grounds that the liberty movement should be owning, and developing on our own terms.
Let me pose a series of generalized solutions for consideration. Which is more principled? Forced labeling of GMOs, or a social recognition that selling “not salmon” as “salmon” is fraud on the face of it? Is allowing GMO products to be sold as if they were natural products principled?
Currently the law gives genetically modified products the cover of law for selling itself as the natural counterpart as long as they are aesthetically the same. This does not seem like a rational definition of fraud to me… matter of fact it seems like the definition of fraud turned upside down for the convenience of pathological liars. It is glaring in its inconsistency with principled action.
To say that GMO should be able to be sold as its natural look alike, you would have to contend that “natural” versus “not natural” is not a value component of people’s market decisions. For me, just on the face of it “natural” versus “not-natural” is a significant value in that market. The anti-GMO movement is a manifestation of that being true.
The need for principled positions and education
I will leave it to the reader to decide for themselves on GMO marketing, but I also invite you to, while considering a position, that you may have to let go of some perceptions inculcated by the defense of free business. Businesses especially bleeding edge ones are vulnerable to heavy handed regulation. I argue that we libertarians need to find answers to these problems that do NOT involve government action before the progressives use them to erode our rights, and the rights of innovators in the bio-tech space.
Consumers do have a right to demand truthfulness in labeling, and they should be able to seek damages if they are defrauded. But if we do not first, before the fascists do, cause people to feel secure in their market actions we will lose this fight. We must find a principled position on the matter of GMO products, we must find a bright line for what fraud is and is not on the question and educate people on ethical recourse.
Beyond labeling there are other issues that require real examination, what is the principled reaction to weaponized organisms, or organisms that turn out to be dangerous in unexpected ways? What about intellectual property injustices that are widely reported by farmers oppressed by GMO manufacturers using the law for market subjugation – What about the contamination of seed stock with GMO pollen or other such unwanted invasions of genetic material into populations? Is not the legal potential for government licensed monopolization of the food supply not a freedom issue? Where is the libertarian discussion for principle on these subjects?
If we are not more proactively forming solid positions on GMO ethics, I am afraid that we are going to hand the ball directly into the hands of the bad guys on this one, and it is going to entrench government and fascist institutions into greater privilege over an increasingly powerless people stripped of their rights by an incapacity to assert them. It seems like it would behoove us, while we are celebrating these revolutionary technologies and the great men and women who are bringing them; that we should also reflect on how their discoveries are considered within the ethics and responsibilities of releasing forms of automata into the world.
Discussion, and careful, thoughtful responses need formulation
I believe that our ethics are greatly strengthened if we ask some of the tougher questions at our principled allies in these technologies as softballs and get those great minds to demonstrate how common and natural law is enough to protect the public from duplicity in their less principled peers. Moreso, we should invite them to reflect on the ethics of their market interaction, if willing, to set examples of how the good guys do it without guns to their heads.
I would also invite my freedom minded friends to engage in honest rational discussion about what is principled action in the market where engineered lifeforms are introduced as products; and what are the ethical bright lines concerning organisms introduced to the genetic pool of life in general. The war for public opinon on this one is looming. I feel it is going to be critical to our movement’s success with a large segment of people that thoughtful and considered answers are well vetted, understood and ready for memespace.
I might start such a discussion with a strawman assertion such as:
“I contend that if genetic patterns are allowed to have the government privilege of patent, that to maintain the intellectual property, the owner of the privilege must mark all packaging with the patent, and license its use only with the condition that the patent be likewise displayed on the label to maintain the patent from the public domain.”
Then I might promptly abandon that thought as too weirdly close to condoning IP. Thanks all the strawman is burned. IP is too ooky for me to want to even tangentially condone it.
I think that the fraud angle has more merit. I assert this:
“A good piece of fish can be really expensive. If I buy salmon that turns out to be an Eel-Sea Urchin-Salmon homonculous, I should be able to sue the thieves that cheated me.”