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On Thursday, July 15, 2010 Directors from Monsanto came to the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia for dinner to discuss the ethics of biotechnology. When asked, “will you vow to do no harm,” Monsanto replied, “We already do no harm.”

Click here to listen to Reverend Nate Walker’s summary of Monsanto’s response to the proposal to develop a modern Hippocratic Oath that could lead the entire field of biotechnology to “do no harm, to do good, and to be just.” Click here for the full text.

What are your thoughts about this dialogue? Please leave your comments here.

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Comment by Mike Adams on January 24, 2011 at 2:46pm

Hi Nate,

I want to thank you for your efforts at creating an ongoing dialog with Monsanto. I listened to one of your pod-casts with great interest. It caused me to stop and wonder about some of the articles of news "faith" I had taken for fact.

In fact several members of my family listened to that pod-cast and we had a lively conversation afterward. I haven't caressed that discussion into an articulate piece of writing yet but feel compelled to share with you some of what we discussed.

My wife's parents had a difficult time stepping back and questioning what they "knew" of Monsanto or of the farmers crying foul. I don't necessarily trust Monsanto at this point, I do however have a much healthier dose of skepticism regarding their detractors.

The interesting point came after we discussed the merits of what the differing sides had to say. It really boiled down to the idea that even if Monsanto is actually evil and they are actually going to destroy our environment, they are still the only game in town.

As much as we love the idea of urban gardening and composting waste, etc...the fact remains that there is no viable alternative to what Monsanto is offering with regards to the massive human emergency of starvation. Even if every person in the US started urban farming and buying organic, we'd only scratch the surface.

What ever solution comes forth, will necessarily be one that is simple enough for starving families around the world to implement within the constraints of their already perilous lives. So far,Monsanto is the organization going to them and saying, we've got a solution all you have to do is grow our products and you'll be able to stop watching your children starve.

I think that the regulation which is being championed by some of your respondents won't really affect the issue...that choices are what people need. Choices in middle and upper middle class America to buy non-gmo food if the individual feels that is important. The choice in impoverished America to buy and prepare food from a grocery store rather than having choices limited to a microwave burrito from Circle k, 7-11, Chevron station or eating McDonald's or Wendy's.

If organic really is what we need, then people like myself have to be able to make that choice. Right now we can't afford to eat organic...we do what we can but we don't have the economic power to make that choice.

UU's often overlook their relative privilege on economic issues and forget that the choices available to them are not available to many others. In our RE, we had a "hungar banquet" where there was a small table with a table cloth, bagels, grapes, juice, jam and creme cheese. A slightly larger table with no table cloth, with bagels and crackers and water (no jam no creme cheese) and a third much larger table with unsalted crackers and water. The RE students came into the room and were given a ticket, which told them what table they were assigned to.

After the initial upset of many and the complaints had subsided, the RE teachers asked a couple of students each table to explain how they felt about their meal. They were then told to look at how many people were at each table and informed that the world operates much like that...the majority would have unsalted crackers and water or no food at all.

I guess what I'm saying is that, those starving masses are the ones we have to present with choices...otherwise we'll never make any difference.

The E-Beacon

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