We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, November 11, 2013

Genetically modified mosquitoes set off uproar in Florida Keys

Click here to access article by Patricia Sagastume from Al Jazeera

The author provides a very well-balanced report on the introduction of GMO mosquitoes to control dengue fever. 
...a...controversial potential solution is splitting communities in the Sunshine State.

Michael Doyle is director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD). His job is to keep the 44 inhabited islands of the total 1,200 that spread across the Florida Straits free from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. He wants to release genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes, specifically designed to pass down a suicide gene that kills their own offspring, into the wild in hopes of bringing down the dangerous dengue-carrying mosquito population and preventing new outbreaks.
It's clear that the public, understandably, does not in many places trust private companies to engage in radical experiments with their environment. The basic problem is trusting corporations whose legal purpose is to serve the economic interests of their shareholders, or even trusting regulatory agencies, who are often staffed by people who serve corporate interests, to do the right thing for the public interest. 

Thus, it is private interests versus public interests which is the core problem with capitalism. It wasn't so much of a problem in the early stages of capitalism when you had many small enterprises competing with each other, but it is today with these huge trans-national corporations whose command of a broad range of resources can thoroughly corrupt and intimidate governments. (For a current illustration here in Washington state, read here and here about the intimidation of Boeing threats to move operations elsewhere on state government and unions.)

It seems that many people can see the problem when it involves food or mosquitoes, but they can't see private interests working against vital public interests when it comes to education, media, health care, employment, and government. This sort of pervasive corruption of societal interests to serve private interests is much more indirect and hidden.