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|Name: Albert Dean||Location (optional):||Date: 2 August 2003|
GM is the most uncertain activity that humanity has so far undertaken, and it is an activity that should be completely suspended until sure and certain answers have been found to the questions of what is life and why is life.
It is likely the answers to those questions will show that only an infinitesimally small part of GM might be safe. We already know that any attempt to eradicate a disease or pest is highly likely to create a more virulent form of what was there, drug resistant TB for example, and that even just moving life forms around the planet can cause practically insoluble problems, it only took a couple of grey squirrels to almost wipe out the red squirrel in the UK.
With GM two types of product will arise, experimental failures and desired material, and neither will be confinable. In effect GM will therefore be mankind waging "dirty" and "clean" chemical warfare upon the biosphere. And the biosphere will retaliate.
Risk in the GM context is not normal risk. As time goes by, the laboratories will produce increasing varieties of GM material. This means the chance of harmful material being produced will actually increase. Also, escaping material will quite probably mutate into sub-varieties to seek its place in the biosphere, with the likely-hood some of it will eventually return in harmful forms, and the original and mutated forms will also cause existing components in the biosphere to mutate, some again into harmful forms. And by then the presence and effect will be so widespread the only practical limit will be saturation. So, the risk curve will be an accelerating S curve, rising to 100%, which does not mean probability, it means when.
Allowing 35 years for say 1000 varieties to escape into the biosphere, and that, say, 1 variety is a smoking gun that leads to maybe, as example, a lethal fungal infection that takes 35 years to spread around the planet, and extending the time period by an order of ten so as to not be thought too pessimistic, then, as a date to argue about, I would suggest that the GM biosphere will take out humanity by 2750 at the latest.
So, we are now looking at the very real and amusing prospect that someone is going to get a Nobel Prize for making their own species extinct.