This might be from a letter to The Observer but still, it's one of those rhetorical questions that deserve an answer. That answer being that there is no "we" which directs what all in the society may do. This is a rather more important point that simply the usual rejection of what these particular fools state - it is a very much more general description of what makes the bedrock of a free society:
GM crops yield no benefits
The central pillars of your editorial on genetically modified crops – that there is consensus over the safety of GM and that such a consensus would mean the arguments were over – are flawed. (“Europe can no longer turn its back on the benefits of genetically modified crops”).
There is nothing like the level of scientific consensus over genetically modified organisms as there is on climate change. Rather than giving GMOs a clean bill of health, the US National Academy of Sciences reveals that there is still a lot that we don’t know. And hundreds of scientists worldwide have signed a document refuting this “consensus”. Commercial GM farming has caused what the report identified as “major agricultural problems”.
GM crops have failed to provide any obvious benefits for the environment or the millions of small farmers who produce the majority of the world’s food. As the NAS report confirms, they don’t increase crop yields. So the real question is: why do we continue to pursue this now outdated technology, when there are more innovative, fairer and greener ways of producing our food?
Clare Oxborrow Friends of the Earth
Vicki Hird War on Want
Liz O’Neill GM Freeze
Peter Melchett Soil Association
The Soil Association is, as we all know, the trade union for organic farmers, so to see them opposing GM is not a surprise. The others are a little more mystifying in their distaste.
But let us, just for the sake of argument here, accept their factual points being made, that GM doesn't benefit anyone very much (although we cannot resist pointing out that the reason they don't benefit small farmers is because they don't use them). That's not actually the point at all.
Rather, we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the use of GM is harmful to anyone, more importantly we have precisely zero evidence that such is harmful to anyone not making the decision to plant or grow GM. At which point the argument about whether to allow or not allow the use of GM is over.
For in a free society the only possible justification for the banning of something, the prevention of something, is that the use or doing of it causes harm to someone not actually doing the using or the doing. Sure, smoking, drug use, they can and do harm users. But as they only harm users there is no argument to ban them.
Perhaps, as asserted, there's no very great use to GM crops (we disagree, but see above the just for the sake of argument) but that they cause no harm means they must be permitted.
For there is no "we" planning society and what all of us 7 billion must do. There's just us 7 billion trying to rub along together and that's best done by all of us doing as we wish, the only things we ban being those which prevent others from doing so, as they wish.
Something that causes no harm is to be allowed, by definition. Just as Lord Melchett is free to grow the fodder for his organic beef herd as he wishes so is everyone else to be accorded the same freedom. Even if M'Lord Melchett disagrees.