As man carries on to manipulate
more and more of his environment for his own gain, there will always be people who say "No". These are the people that buy organic food
and oppose all genetic engineering
. Some might call them luddite
There are many good reasons for man to manipulate his environment for his own gain. As an example, let's take the common potato. The potato is a product of X million years selfish evoloution. While it has a lot to offer man, it is not the perfect dietry starch solution. There are certain factors of it which, through genetical modification, man could improve - growth rate, nutritional content, size. By improving these properties, we would be able to feed more people with less potatoes - thus decreasing the number of vegetables subjected to the terrible thrall of farming.
However, friend luddite will not have this. He would rather go and pay a huge mark-up for organic food that has negligible benefit. Why is it that some people have such a problem with technology and man altering the environment?
Firstly, I will present my view of man-made things versus natural things (although I started in that somewhat bias paragraph about potato farming above). Some people find a lot of beauty in nature (see here). I think most of us at least express a little awe when seeing the Niagra Falls or something similar.
But there's one thing that the people who really love nature have to realise. I, and others like me, find the same thing you find in nature in man's accomplishments. I see a forest, and I see an ecosystem where animals and plants live in symbiosis. It's a product of the combined evoloution of various organisms. It just happened.
Then I see the Internet. Poor analogy? Bear with me. When I see the Internet, I see technical brilliance. This didn't just happen, it is the product of something that started years ago with the telegraph, then became the telephone, and finally became the collection of protocols and software products I see now. That, to me, is beauty. A forest just can't compete.
Some people see the Internet as a bad thing. A lot more people would think like this if it was more "in your face" than it currently is - most people can just get on with their lives and ignore it if they don't want to.
Now, forget about the Internet. Let's shift the focus to genetic engineering. This is a hot topic, a lot of people are effected by it because suddenly these products are popping up in their shops that have been modified. There are two ways to react to this situation. Some people, like me, look at it and think "Wow, what an achievement. Man can now alter life itself to aid the populace of humanity and strive further for excellence." The other people, the luddites, look and say "This is un-natural - man should not alter his environment. Let's buy organic food!".
What makes people think like this? What makes people favour things that are "natural" over things that are optimised for man? (This excludes people who have genuine, scientific concerns about the safety of an activity).
One of the biggest reasons is that lately it's become cool to care about the environment and generally be against technology. A lot of people think caring about the environment means favouring it over mankind, and hence anything that seems to alter the environment for mankind is bad. This fad also extends to the romanticism surrounding the so-called noble savage - the primitive man that lived in harmony with the environment and was in touch with the living world. Yeah, right. Primitive man did as much damage to the environment as his puny technology would allow. These people understood the bottom line - they lived in a world where the basic needs of live where not readily available. A world where they are can make us blind to the needs of mankind - this leads to people thinking that we can feed the population of the world without artificial pesticides and chemicals. We can't. They think these artificial products are just tools of capitalism used to make fat cats richer. They aren't. We need this stuff to feed people, don't forget that.
Another reason is that things like genetic engineering and other technology means the world is going to change. Most people don't like change unless they're the people implementing it - change increases the amount of new information in the Universe, and this can mean problems for people who don't understand it. "Natural" things seem the most basic and easy to understand, and this is why people favour natural things. Almost anyone can understand what you have to do to grow and eat the common potato. But engineer it for increased crop yield and disease immunity? No way.
Most new technology will be opposed by some religion or other. There's no reasoning with these people - although you can reason with people who have objections based on logical moral philosophy.