Green symbolism in the genetic modification debate

The character of the current controversy over geneticallymodified (GM) agriculture, typified by protesters' use of emotivesymbolism, has been largely inspired by the Green movement'snon-governmental organizations and political parties. This articleexplores the deeper philosophical and spiritual motivations of the Greenmovement, to inquire why it is implacably opposed to GM agriculture. TheGreen movement's anti-capitalism, exemplified by the hate-symbol statusof Monsanto as the company pioneering GM crops, is viewed within thewider context of alienation in the modern era. A complex of meanings isseen in Frankenstein as the focal symbol of GM protests, includingperceptions of risk, fears of the remixing of living identities seen ingenetic engineering, and resentment at the spiritual nihilism of thereduction of life to the digital code of DNA. By contrast, RobertGoodin's Green Theory of Value, which postulates the deep psychologicalimportance of nature in locating the self in a meaningful context largerthan ourselves, can explain the power of the Green symbol of thethreatened environment, Gaia. The advent of GM agriculture seems toimply that capitalism and technology can now enframe nature itself,leaving a world devoid of natural myth or meaning, with no escape fromthe alienation and nihilism of modernity. The central question posed forprotagonists of the GM debate is whether their agenda is based on thesepowerful but mythical conceptions of the environment, or whetherpreservation of the real environment is their primary ethic.
Keywords Frankenstein  Gaia  genetic modification  Goodin  Green movement  Heidegger  Jung  Marcuse  Monsanto  Nietzsche  Sartre
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009511616869
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