RCL 2 #5: Appeals of an Anti-GMOs Organization

Arguments of the NON GMO Project against GMOs:

  1. GMOs are Unsafe
    • Claim that “there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs”
      • There have been studies upon studies supporting the cause that GMOs cause no harm to humans
        • Lots of information why the studies done to prove GMOs are safe are wrong, but do not provide any evidence of GMOs actually harming humans
      • I can agree that genetic engineering is unsafe, but mostly just in the aspect that many times, genes come from creatures that aren’t endemic to the region where genetic engineering experiments take place and there must be extra containment to prevent them from escaping from the lab and wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem
      • The non-GMO paper continues by saying that genetic modification isn’t a precise technique due to mutations
        • In lab, there are PCR machines to verify that the gene you want is in the correct place and various sequencing tools to get the exact order of nucleotides within your recombinant DNA, so you can check if your DNA did what you wanted it to do
        • Of course there are mutations, but due to the wobble effect, they can still code for the same amino acid and that won’t kill you
        • The magic of checking your DNA lets you see if these mutations are harmful or not
  2. Promote the “natural” method of crossbreeding seeds
    • Technically speaking, the natural method is also intentional genetic modification. but instead of taking a few months/years to develop more food, this method is as fast as watching grass grow, literally
    • People have been taking seeds out of plants that showed favorable traits such as pest resistance, largest fruit, sweetest flavor, etc, which caused a natural change in the genetic makeup of the plants since certain genes were selected for
    • One source referenced on the NON GMO project website gives an accurate depiction of plant transformation, but then goes to to say that transformation is a “long, arduous, labour-intensive, and expensive process’
      • That’s true, depending how you look at it. Maintaining explants takes a lot of time to make sure that the transformed leaves don’t have bacterial overgrowth and there’s constant transfers of the explants, but it takes only a few months to set up the process and once that happens, you can pump out transgenic plants pretty quickly
      • Especially in comparison to the natural “pick a seed and replant, wait a year for it to grow, and hope that it grows with your selected trait,” genetic editing allows you to transform a copious amount of plants at once and various hormones can help you determine whether the plant is transformed or not
      • This is important in areas with severe food shortages: genetically modifying plants to withstand drought and other stresses is much more important to areas where food isn’t guaranteed and banning GMOs would negatively impact many of those who aren’t as well off to choose to eat that haven’t been genetically modified
      • The main fear is that GMOs are unnatural and genetic engineering “evades natural barriers between species and kingdoms that have evolved over millennia”
        • Considering that at one point, there was only one species and every living created evolved from that organism, this is weak evidence of why people shouldn’t eat GMOs
  3. Bank upon the fact that GMOs cannot be tested upon humans
    • As mentioned before, the website provides no real evidence for why people shouldn’t eat GMOs other than the fear of what will happen to the human body after a long-term consumption of GMOs as well as links to various other websites that use big words to make genetic engineering seem like a mad scientist’s toy which also do not give any substantial evidence proving the negative of consuming GMOs
    • This whole argument is based on personal preferences: some people don’t like the idea that their mass produced food was given a gene to help it proliferate faster so farmers and stores can sell more food for less money
    • Their main argument includes that we don’t know how GMOs will impact humans in the long term even those most of us are already test subjects
      • Scientists cannot do experiments testing the impact of GMOs on humans due to ethics
      • There was an experiment in which rats that ate GMOs grew tumors, but it was later revealed that these rats were already cancer-prone to begin with and the scientists left out trials in which many of the rats that were given GMOs grew no tumors at all

Testing Labs

http://livingnongmo.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/GMO-Myths-and-Truths-edition2.pdf

 

RCL2: #2 Deliberation Articles

An article published by the Los Angeles Times brings up the point that many college campuses have established “safe spaces,” which were once identifies as places where students could share problems but be shielded from verbal attacks. The article goes on to discuss why there’s support for safe spaces, such as the issue of identity, especially on college campuses, and students’ needs for a place to discuss their opinions without outsider hostility. However, these safe spaces also create separation between students and act as a form of self-segregation from others within the campus, which has caused many campuses to stop providing safe spaces to their students. Safe spaces grants freedom of speech to those who occupy the safe spaces, but clearly, those with contrasting opinions would not be welcomed into the safe spaces, which make safe spaces both for and against free speech.

A group of students at University of California San Diego (UCSD) wrote an article in The Koala, a student newspaper at UCSD, satirizing safe spaces and the construction of a new safe space within UCSD, emphasizing that “the lack of dangerous space at UCSD has become increasingly apparent…[safe spaces] threaten individuals who do not like feeling safe” (UCSD Unveils New Dangerous Space on Campus, The Koala). The article was meant to be a funny one, but may have grazed a fine line with the profane and vulgar humor within it. Soon after publication of the article, the UCSD student government passed a Media Act which defunded student media groups, of which The Koala is a part.

These two articles show the divide between supports and those who think safe spaces are actually detriments to a college campus, which we can use in our deliberation to show how even the many facets within the free speech issue have great divides and try to use the problems raised within the issues to spark a discussion on how we can make students feel safe to share their opinions without harming or lashing out at others. We could also use the article about The Koala to start a conversation on what the students think about free speech and how much schools and other authority can limit student speech on campus.

 

Furedi, Frank. “Campuses Are Breaking Apart into ‘Safe Spaces’.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2017, 4:00 AM, www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-furedi-safe-space-20170105-story.html.

Leef, George. “Student Writers Mock ‘Safe Spaces’ Idea; Can The University Retaliate Against Them?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 Aug. 2017, 10:55 AM, www.forbes.com/sites/georgeleef/2017/08/26/student-writers-mock-safe-spaces-idea-can-the-university-retaliate-against-them/#621992ca5ebf.

TheKoala. “UCSD Unveils New Dangerous Space On Campus.” The Koala, University of California San Diego, 16 Nov. 2015, thekoala.org/2015/11/16/ucsd-unveils-new-dangerous-space-on-campus/.

RCL2 #1: Deliberation Responsibilities

Title: WE ARE … Free to Speak: Or Are We?

Description: We are trying to define what freedom of speech really is, especially on a college campus. Furthermore, we will discuss how universities should manage freedom of speech within their campuses as well policies that need to be implemented in order to protect students from physical and mental harm in relation to free speech. Our three approaches that we will discuss are the negative impacts of free speech, the positive impacts, and policies in place at Penn State that deal with free speech. Within these categories, we’ll mention topics such as safe spaces, Penn State probing Richard Spencer from speaking on campus, and the mental impact free speech has on students.

Role: I am part of team 1, so my topic is the negative impacts of free speech. My duties include researching all I can about this topic and preparing an introduction for this approach with my partner for the deliberation. I also have to present my information in a practical manner, moderate my approach during the deliberation and finally, help write a several hundred words post-deliberation report.

Currently Working On: Researching the approach (with a focus on safe spaces for now) and helping plan the set up of the deliberation with the whole group. My partner and I are also searching for other mini-topics that are mentionable within the overarching subject of negative impacts of free speech. I’ve scoured several articles and found a lot of information on both the positives and negatives of safe spaces, so I’ll be sure to illustrate both sides of the story.

RCL2 #0: This I Believe Script

Satisfaction Brought it Back

My old laboratory was the minuscule bathroom of the apartment I used to live in. The puny sink served as a heat-resistant, state of the class lab counter and a sharpener’s plastic container intended to collect pencil shavings made an exceptional beaker.

Day after day, I’d enter the lab and do my business before beginning a long day’s work of mixing highly toxic and volatile chemicals such as blue shampoo and baby powder with a bobby-pin stirring rod.

Although most trials ended in a sludgy failure, once in a while, I would create a substance with a smooth consistency and a glossy shine and in my young mind, that trial was a success.

A decade later, I stand in a lab with glass beakers, stirring rods, actual volatile chemicals, expensive equipment, and a sense of satisfaction that I can finally follow that childhood curiosity of mixing two substances together but instead of doing it for my own amusement, I can improve the world with one chemical reaction at a time.

When applying to colleges, I thought back to all those “experiments” I conducted as a child, and in a moment of impulsiveness, I chose engineering as my major. Pretty soon, I discovered that thanks to the inquisitive nature I nurtured as a child, I avoided many other careers that I was considering but know that I would grow to dislike in the future. and for that reason, amongst many others, I believe in pursuing curiosities, no matter how profound or trivial they may seem.

For example, a few years ago, friend mentioned the Norwegian comedians behind the “What does the fox say”  video and in a bit of curiosity, I searched them up on YouTube. It turned out that they hosted a hilarious talk show, completely in Norwegian, of course. While most episodes were subtitled for the English speaking viewers, a few episodes were not. So naturally, I spent the next year learning Norwegian in order to understand their show.

Although I wouldn’t call myself even relatively proficient in Norwegian at this point, I learned copious amounts of information about Norwegian history and culture and know just enough of the language to get around when I go to Norway in the future.

Along the same lines, a boy I knew in eighth grade wrote a hundred-paged story, and I, in a bout of competitiveness and wonder, began to take creative writing more seriously. But in contrast to my Norwegian endeavors, my newfound interest in writing earned me a Scholastic writing award in  the  eleventh grade and a lifelong love for creating stories.

I have similar recollections for learning art, Japanese, knitting, the guitar, photography, and  many other activities that I spent between a few weeks to several years learning. They all have a wide of range of successes and feelings of let’s-never-talk-about-that-again-thank-you, but in the end, I’m glad I tried out each and every one of them. Spurred on by a little curiosity, I peek into the worlds these activities occupy and realize just how much of the world I have to explore and learn that I never want to be pinned down by one career or hobby for the rest of my life.

After all, we only have around a century on a planet that spins due to money, time, and curiosity. For a person who already feels so, so old, I know that if I have my interest piqued for even the most minuscule amount of time, well I’d rather chase that curiosity and discover where it leads me rather than regret it until my dying breath.

RCL #9: Ted Talk

Focusing on the implications of the shift on our generation and what’s to come out of this shift

Introduction

  • How has technology rotted our minds away? Over the years, newer generations have supposedly become more narcissistic, at least in the perspective of those from a more conformist decade.
  • Talk briefly about 50s
    • Conformation as a result of Communism, don’t want to stand out
    • Nuclear family “propaganda”
    • Gender roles reestablished after war
  • 60s, civil rights rallies
    • Started the idea of the individual
    • People began to accept who they were (e.g. LGBTQ, women, people of color), set the playing stage for the boom in individualism in the next few decades
  • Snowballed to today
    • People more connected then ever
    • Gives rise to many new benefits
      • Growing middle class
      • Calling govts out more effectively
      • Personal benefits
  • Thesis: Through the empowerment of individuals over the years, our generation has altered technology and the workplace to show their own values, which will lead to further growth in individual efficiency, global development, and continue promoting the individual.

Effect of Technology on our generation as individuals & future uses

  • Technology is a major reason why individuals have as much power as they do today
  • Don’t need to rely upon others to accomplish things- Makes empowers individuals by giving them so much power at their fingertips
  • Shift in ideals over time; people more concerned with family and rights back in the day but due to a period of general peace, people have shifted their attention back onto themselves
  • Future: social media and technology will be more tied to individuals than ever (Smartwatch, anyone?, may cause a myriad of both problems and benefits, more connectivity and power to the individual

Our generation in the workplace/other professional places

  • Due to social media, want constant validation/feedback (source)
  • Growing up during Great Recession, generation Z is more cutthroat, want to get things done and move on (source)
  • Turnover in the workplace!
  • Expansion of middle class

Conclusion: make it memorable

Anecdotes? Something that relates to our generation

General info/research about generation z