DEFENDERS OF GAIA
(Random Ideas Or Thoughts)
Living in Harmony
I wrote a book, that’s only just barely science fiction. Biotechnology has been touted as being the next major revolution to follow the industrial and technological periods of innovation that we’ve been through in the past few hundred years. I have to say that I’m a bit disappointed by the seemingly slow progress this new revolution is making, but I guess it’s still early days. Progress on this front already has been and will continue to be dogged by ethical dilemmas. Although hopefully mostly an entertaining fictional story with some eco food for thought, my book ‘Brilliant Disguise’ deals with the concept of transgenics – more familiar as to us at the moment as the process of genetically modifying organisms, most notably foods. I wish we were a little closer to being able to accomplish what the main protagonist in my story does, but hey, as I said, it’s early days. Here’s a brief introduction to the subject.
Transgenic is the term used to refer to a living organism that has had one or more genes artificially added to its genetic makeup. The genes that were included could either have been specifically manufactured in a lab or obtained from another species entirely. A more familiar term for this procedure would be ‘genetic engineering’. Naturally there is some controversy surrounding the creation of transgenic organisms, not least of which the implications for messing with the human genome. Whilst we should all be aware of the implications and discussing the ethical questions they raise, the technology is already widely in use for crops and by now, is quite frankly unstoppable. Like just about every other useful advancement, it will be used for both good and less good purposes. When you consider the mind-boggling array of life forms we’re blessed with on this planet, all shaped by the hit and miss process of evolution, it is of course extremely exciting to contemplate the potential a technique like this raises. The random nature of genetic recombination and mutations can now be bypassed, with specific outcomes in mind. Inevitably, the existing diversity of life could certainly be at risk when transgenic organisms are released, unmonitored into the ecosystem. If they have a survival advantage or any other biological edge over naturally occurring species, they could potentially out-compete the non-modified organisms and drive them to extinction. As a result, some international agreements such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety have been made, presenting guidelines for protecting current biodiversity from transgenic organisms.
In ‘Brilliant Disguise’, Andy uses transgenics to further his aims for this planet. Good or bad? You decide.
You can check out more information about ‘Brilliant Disguise’ at
Defenders Of Gaia
When a child enjoys killing animals, it’s considered an extremely bad sign. How come it’s OK for adults?
Let’s be honest about this, hunters – no matter how much they protest they are conservationists – hunt because they enjoy it. I don’t pretend to understand the psychology behind it – I can’t understand the rationale behind blowing oneself up for a cause either – but surely it’s not a good sign? With the pun fully intended, I simply can’t buy putting a price on an animal’s head in the name of conservation. Because it’s possible to generate money from something doesn’t make it right. How would we feel telling young woman in South Africa that prostitution is a sensible economic option because official unemployment figures are now around 25%? We have to look for other alternatives. Furthermore, to suggest that trophy hunting is the only way to generate the revenue required to keep genuine conservation efforts alive in impoverished areas is simply untrue. In most cases in Africa, hunting occurs on private game farms, where individual owners profit enormously and only a few local residents are employed. They are business ventures, not conservation efforts. Large game animals are not legally hunted in National Parks which are state funded and not supported by trophy hunting. The argument that private parks or game farms would not exist without hunting revenue, thereby reducing the land devoted to conservation, does not have to be solved by allowing a wealthy few to indulge in blood sports. The real cause of limited land remaining wilderness is us. ALL of us. We know this planet cannot sustain our ever expanding population and we have the means to control our birth rate. We are the easiest species to manage. With less of us, there’d be more than enough space for other species to thrive. If every human committed to only replacing themselves with one child, i.e. two per couple, the world population would instantly be stable, and never increase again. That is something we can all do to aid conservation – let alone unemployment. Why can’t we get this right?
P.S. Do children who enjoy killing animals grow up to be conservationists?