Dream of Utopias
Ignacio Chapela at
The Political and
Cultural Economy of Agriculture Biotechnology and the Life Science Industries.
A workshop at UC Berkeley 4-5 May 2001.
mindfully.org note: Presentation of Ignacio Chapela from 4may01 morning session. Apologies to Dr. Chapela for the inaccuracies within this extremely rough transcription by Paul Goettlich. If and when there is an official transcript, we will put it here. For the program go to "Apocalypse Now?"
"To the activists I must say,
DREAM OF UTOPIAS."
Dr Chapela's answer to the question,
This is a reality [GMOs] being released into the environment. I want to express my urgent position. Too long we have played a media game on TV when the biological reality is being played out all over the world with artificial microbes. These constructs are showing up in the strangest places. (he mentioned Mexico and a few other countries not recorded by me) There is NO (emphasis) precedence to what is being done. Do we/will we/can we survive in a GMO world? Medical biotech and Ag biotech have merged. The release of Ag biotech products have been released in very large quantities. High throughput screening allows thousands of microbes.
(Mentions Bill Joy's article in Wired. "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us.")
This is a crisis situation.. A biosphere being radically modified. The Ag/Bio MNCs are the replacement of the Nation/State. It negates the enlightenment principles. .is the formation of a new governance. We ( those in attendance, or possibly more specifically, academics. Most there are academics) in Berkeley are playing a major role in this reformation. The university is nothing but a locus of investment for economic growth and development. We are that whether we like it or not.
Who is paying for risk management analysis?
We represent the last line of defense/protection. We are giving up our role as that last line of protection. The public is denied voicing their opinion in policy making on the basis of lack of knowledge. Who are the expert opinion makers?
The development of nuclear power is similar. (No detail given on this. An interesting point that I have been developing. I think he means the combination of a great lack of knowledge before deploying rapidly)
Will everybody have the capability to have a PC . personal computer. personal cloner? What would the ramifications be?
What's happening in England/Europe is they are feeling the failure of the regulatory system . as with rBST. UK is seeing a transformation to the situation in the US.
(He explains the meaning of "a beefeater" in the UK and how he has been in touch with the present beefeater. ...a medieval class of people entrusted to be the holder of knowledge. of agriculture, etc.) We are taking away the beefeater's capacity to relate to the food they eat.
I call to resist our capacity as having a role in this.
I call to recover the organic feeling of academia.
I call to hold ourselves accountable.
Michael Watts' comments on Ignacio's presentation:
All of what he says is true. We have a criminalization of custom. .. The 60's Berkeley experience was precisely about maintaining power of academia.
Further comments by Ignacio Chapela:
The new global enclosure extends its control into a multitude of generations because of our direct connection to the earth (and what GMOs are doing to the earth). Democracy is not there to be seen anywhere.
(Ignacio recalling a conversation with UCB chancellor, roughly quoted ere) ...well organized takeover of the university. Leftist views are systematically being removed. We've given Ag/Bio a lot of space. It's time to change our approach to taking corporate money."
(Finally, these words are in answer to Paul Goettlich's question, "What can I/we do as activists to become more effective?")
"To the activists I must say, DREAM OF UTOPIAS."
mindfully.org note: Thinking back on what Professor Chapela said, "dream of utopias" does not mean that we should take naps in a hammock under the sun and dream about utopias. It means that the utopias of our desires should be the goal of our works. We must protect nature from those who haven't the common sense to do so themselves. - 10dec01