~ Genetically Modified Food: Bad; Genetically Modified Humans: Good
~ MARY SHELLEY’S Frankenstein is about the man, not his monster; about the cleverly evil human intelligence seeking to do the unholy and horrid thing of making a creature in his own twisted image, with all the consequences of a false god making a monster.
For those who’ve read the book (free, here), a crucial thing needs to be underlined: the awesome subtitle– “Or, The Modern Prometheus“. Greek myth? Yup– the mythical Prometheus, perhaps full of good intentions, who first makes man out of clay, and later steals fire from the gods to give it to mankind. Yay, fire!
Not So Fast
Olympus is not amused. The gods punish the uppity titan Prometheus by chaining him to a mountain, where an eagle comes and eats his liver, which grows back every night. Forever.
Humans? The gods impart to us blind desires, so they never quite know where they are headed, what they are up to, or the consequences.. and yet have the terrible powers of fire, and technology. Talk about a toddler with a flame-thrower.
Fire: heat, comfort, cooking, and all the good things we need. Also, the forge: sharper and crueller weapons. Burning things (and people) down. Gunpowder. Engines. Tanks & aircraft & battleships and nuclear weapons. Yay, fire?
Remember: myths are not synonymous with falsehoods. A myth may be true, but not historical or factual. They can provide warnings, wisdom, tragic insight into human weakness, foolishness, and failure, and deeply thought out mysteries of life, the gods, and everything. The Greeks who gave us Prometheus also taught us about hubris & nemesis (overweening pride & fall), tragedy, human guilt, and warnings about human power and consequences.
What She Said
So: we humans are full of reckless power, and blind desires. A deadly combination. Much of the history of humanity and the things we make is that they are used to unmake us; or, our things begin to shape and remake us. Never moreso than the time since the Industrial Revolution, a tidal-wave of mixed blessings. We are fools with pride, power, and no clue.
So when I read the horrifying article above, all I could think of was a host of clueless genetic kindergartner Dr. Frankensteins, cheerfully tampering with ‘curing’ disease (i.e., indirectly creating new & impossibly destructive bacteria & viruses).. then, maybe, ‘fixing’ the appearance and intelligence of children… then, with how they act, what they believe, what they are for.. then, before we know it, we have the ultimate horror, flawed and sinful and imperfect humans controlling and making other humans for all sorts of ‘noble’ or nefarious purposes– it hardly matters which. It’s the logical extension of eugenics and abortion, which grew up together in the fascist 20s and 30s, and which has survived to this day under politer euphemisms.
And this is only what we know about. No doubt there are top secret dark labs and experiments which cry out to heaven for divine fire to smash them to dust. For in every sphere of activity or technology, humans are capable of Promethean deeds.. which always bear in them the punishment and foreseeable consequences and death and destruction we may not have directly intended, but directly brought about. We are Dr. Mengele, and Dr. Frankenstein, as well as Dr. Banting (diabetes treatment), or Dr. Lister (modern hygenic surgery).
As the author of the article, Rebecca Taylor, concludes:
Whatever the cause, it is clear that genetically modified humans are on the horizon. The only way to prevent the genetic modification of the next generation is to engage the public. Society already perceives that genetically modifying plants and animals may not be the healthiest for humans or the environment.
If GMOs in our food make us uneasy, then genetically modifying our offspring should be unthinkable.