The paper: http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/pp2.pdf
Excerpt: “In a new study, which is still in draft form, this professor of risk engineering from New York University uses statistical analysis to make the case that GMOs, by their very nature, will disrupt the ecosystems of this planet in ways that mankind is only just beginning to comprehend. Because they represent a systemic risk rather than a localized one — GM traits are known to spread unconstrained throughout the environment — GMOs will eventually breach the so-called “ecocide barrier,” leading to catastrophic ecosystem failure.
“There are mathematical limitations to predictability in a complex system, ‘in the wild,’ which is why focusing on the difference between local (or isolated) and systemic threats is a central aspect of our warnings,” Taleb is quoted as saying by Fool.com, noting that it’s essentially impossible to contain the inevitable spread of GMO traits far and wide.
“The [precautionary principle] is not there to make life comfortable, rather to avoid a certain class of what is called in probability and insurance ‘ruin’ problems,” write Taleb and his colleagues in their paper. “For nature, the ‘ruin’ is ecocide: an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.”
GMOs are not ‘scientific,’ and nearly every argument used in their defense is flawed
Besides using math and risk-based analysis to show that GMOs simply cannot coexist with nature as is commonly claimed — GMOs will eventually contaminate the natural world around them — Taleb also deconstructs many of the “arguments” used by GMO advocates to defend the commercial use of untested transgenic materials, including the oft-repeated lie that GMOs are no different than natural organisms.
“Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs fall squarely under [the precautionary principle]… because of their systemic risk on the system,” explains Taleb. “Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.).”
“There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ‘natural.'”
Taleb also draws attention to the deceitful strategies of biotechnology companies in trying to legitimize the continued use of GMOs through fear. Claiming that famine, starvation and widespread crop failures will occur if we all fail to adopt GMOs is no different than playing Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty, claims Taleb — such an approach is hardly scientific or logically sound, and yet these and other tactics are the basis of the pro-GMO agenda.”
Ash Comment: it continues to amaze me how arrogant all these large businesses are, and also how little they seem to care for the lovely world we all live in. They are what are called ‘asuras’ in the buddhist six realm cosmology, people aspiring to be gods living a life of perfect ease, delight, unbroken happiness, stress free etc. but not being so, hence they are involved in perpetual achievement struggles, either clambering over those below in order to get to the top, or pulling down those they see as higher up, they are continuously and forever paranoid, greedy, selfish and essentially humourless – unless laughing at another’s misfortune or lack of asura skills. So although their goal is peace and stillness, their means to achieving that goal perpetually engenders the opposite – strife and stress.
GMO’s, quite simply, should be banned. Monoculture and agribusiness farming should be banned. As organised societies with governments for which ultimately we are responsible – not matter the system – we should do better at preventing this asura mentalility from dominating our cultures and ruining our beautiful world. They are heartless and do not deserve the degree of influence and control our complacent naivity has been affording them this past century or so.
Will it ever end? I keep hoping that young people all over the world will rise up and overthrow the old order we have given them. Peacefully if possible, of course, but thoroughly and without compromise. Maybe if more of us prayed for that every day, it was magically unfold.
Well, I for one will start praying every day, and maybe soon will offer such a prayer here on the blog….