Re: question on labelling genetically modified foods

From: Menno Rubingh (
Date: Sun Jan 09 2000 - 08:03:33 MST

Hal Finney writes, on Fri, 7 Jan 2000:

> Are you so sure that no organic foods are any more healthy than
> conventionally grown ones? Sure enough that you will say that the
> contrary belief is irrational? I would think you would have to be an
> expert on food to be so sure.

No, I'm not sure, and I concede that I'm a non-expert with a big loud mouth.
But nevertheless I maintain that the ''organic'' food movement does exhibit
irrationality. What *is* organic food ?; to what degree should should food
production techniques use ''organic'' methods to be able to say that the food
obtained thereby is ''organic''; what would an ''organic'' (or ''natural'')
food production technique be ? Consider a hypothetical farmer producing
apples, and suppose his apples are plagued by a parasite; then, say that to
combat these parasites this farmer instead of a chemical toxic uses a
genetically engineered bug that eats those parasites. Would that make his
apples less, or more, ''organic'' ? Say that he decides on using a toxic to
kill those parasites; then if he uses instead of an ''artificially'' produced
toxic (say, from some chemical factory) a more devastating poison extracted by
manual labor from ''organically'' grown funguses, would that make his apples
less, or more, ''organic'' ?

What I'm trying to say is that the very idea of ''organic food'' (and/or
''natural food'') is an irrational, arbitrary and useless belief like a
religious myth. Ever since the first prehistoric humans started farming
(which, by definition, involves manual, i.e., ''artificial'', selection and
cultivation by humans) instead of just gathering things which have
''naturally'' grown in the forest, the foods we humans eat have NOT been fully
''natural''. The distinction between an ''organic'' and a ''non-organic''
food (as I tried to show above through these two examples) is I think
similarly arbitrary and useless. The commotion about ''organic'' foods is
brought about by the emergence of this arbitrary irrational
''organic-food-is-good'' belief.

I wonder if sometime someone will come up with the idea that algorithms run on
computers constructed from ''naturally produced'' computer parts yield
''better'' results than when run on other hardware ?

Very best greetings, Menno (

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