[eDebate] Why Genetics is better than Russia and Ag

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Fri Apr 25 23:18:03 CDT 2008

Why do coaches  and old debaters want to rehash old arguments regarding Russia?
Why not have students, and old debaters, research something that is new? Seeing
people post "harms areas" for Russia that are the same as stuff I ran literally
25 years ago seems to me to be an indication that policy debate has gotten
stuck in a rut. Its policy debate, not Foriegn Policy Debate.

Have you noticed that the proponents of the Russia topic area can barely
articulate a reasonable resolution? It is one thing to say,  "gee whiz, Russsia
is cool, I have a dead hand scenario from 1984 I want to dust off." It is quite
another to craft a resolution that is worth a damn. GE has very specific
resolutions. Some of them are less than 20 words long.

Major areas of agriculture- GMOs and biofuels--are subsumed within the genetic
engineering topic. But, the topic gives greater depth to many agricultural and
trade issues that cannot be addressed through a subsidies styled topic area.

Genetic Engineering takes into account Weapons of Mass Destruction and weapons
controls regimes. Yet it is specific enough for teams to have predictable
ground. Thus the need for the "big boom" debates of Russia can be met with
gnenetic engineering. However, new ground can be covered by this topic that
cannot be covered in the standard debates over "improving relations" with
Russia.  Here are some choice quotes on the issue. The full cites are in the
Topic Paper

There is increasing concern regarding genetic engineering’s impact on
weapons proliferation control regimes. One activist group has

Biological arms control is currently in one of its worst crisis since before
the signing of the Bioweapons Convention (BWC) in 1972. Efforts to
strengthen the BWC through comprehensive declaration and verification
measures failed in 2001 due to US resistance. At the same time, the US
has massively expanded its biodefense program and embarked on the
exploitation of biotechnology for weapons development.

Mark Wheelis and Malcolm Dando, biologists and biological weapons
experts, recently warned that "the US may already be plunging recklessly
forward into the military applications of biotechnology, whose legacy, we
predict, will be as troubling to our children as is our parents’ nuclear
legacy to us" (Wheelis & Dando 2002). Wheelis and Dando further argue
the imminent danger of a new biological arms race: "This U.S. exploration
of the utility of biotech for bioweapons development is unwise, for the rest
of the world will be obliged to follow suit. In its rush to stay ahead
technologically, the United States runs the risk of leading the world down
a path toward much-reduced security" (Wheelis & Dando 2003). We
concur and here present further discussion of specific technologies and
civilian and military research that endangers security.43
Others have written:

By using genetic engineering, biological researchers have already
developed new weapons that are much more effective than their natural
counterparts. Countless examples from the daily work of molecular
biologists could be presented here, not least the introduction of antibiotic
resistance into bacterial pathogens, which today is routine work in almost
any microbiology laboratory. Indeed, many research projects in basic
science show—sometimes unwillingly and unwittingly—how to overcome
current scientific and technological limits in the military use of pathogenic
agents. Furthermore, genetic engineering is not merely a theoretical
possibility for future biowarfare: it has already been applied in past
weapons programmes, particularly in the former Soviet Union. One
example is the USSR?s ?invisible anthrax?, resulting from the introduction
of an alien gene into Bacillus anthracis that altered its immunological
properties (Pomerantsev et al., 1997). Existing vaccines proved to be
ineffective against this new genetically engineered strain.

These are just a few of the areas covered by the GE topic. Others are also
covered int he topic papper.

Scott Elliott…

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