THE LEFT VERSUS SCIENCE

With the exception of stem cell research, the international Left has become, to all intents and purposes, one of the strongest forces restraining scientific research in the world. The attacks on pharmaceutical companies have already meant a slowing of research on important diseases. The hostility to genetically modified food will only hamper efforts to advance the day when no-one in the world has to endure hunger. The opposition to nuclear power will only raise the cost of energy in the long run and ensure that the more environmentally damaging fossil fuels will remain our major energy source for decades. Now comes news from the Independent in London that an important tool for understanding human genetic diversity has been scrapped after a political campaign against it. After ten years of effort, the Human Genome Diversity Project is now all but history. It was an attempt to understand genetic variations between different ethnicities in order to fashion better tools for curing disease, and enhancing our understanding of human pre-history. Of course, the Left loathes the possibility that actual genetic differences exist between racial groups, despite evidence that subtle differences do in fact exist. Representatives of indigenous peoples – groups that may soon disappear as separate genetic entities because of urbanization, inter-marriage and migration – complained that the data might be used for – shock, horror – commercial purposes. Much of the Western scientific establishment, terrified of any politically incorrect science, also helped stifle the project. The result might be an understanding of the human genome that is useless in addressing specific diseases in different populations. The notion that this research in itself is racist reminds me of the know-nothing attitude of so many liberals to the data of “The Bell Curve.” We don’t want to know, was the liberal refrain. I like the quote from one of the scientists on the project addressing this issue: “”The blatant lies that went on,” Professor Kevin Kidd of Yale University, said. “I was insulted to my face. The project was called unethical when it was an attempt to put the research on an ethical basis. To study differences is not racist. Racists don’t need to study differences, they are doing just fine as they are.” Amen, but try telling that to the Luddite fundamentalists on the left.

THE ANIMAL HOLOCAUST CONTINUES: After the Blair government’s alternately horrifying and incompetent attempt to deal with foot and mouth disease this spring comes new horror. The inhumane and hideous slaughter of hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep for purely economic reasons didn’t rescue the British market and didn’t immediately wipe out foot and mouth disease. Now, consumers have gone off beef altogether, prices for cattle have collapsed and the cost of transporting calves to France where they can still be sold for veal has out-stripped the value of the calves. So now they’re killing the calves at birth – all 200,000 of them – and burying them in mass graves. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than last spring’s massacre. But it has. “Ethically, it stinks,” is how one farmer put it to the Daily Telegraph. To high heaven.

LETTERS: A chilling economic parallel between Britain in 1989 and America in 2001.

MR BLANK: My take on Colin Powell’s non-influence in the Bush administration: woohoo. Check out my new piece opposite.