I Would Rather Be A Luddite Than A Simplot Any Day

Call me a Luddite. In a 2007 article she wrote for MSNBC, Cloning:  Scientists vs. Consumers, freelance writer Pallavi Gogoi quotes Terry Etherton, head of the Dairy & Animal Science Dept. at Penn State University, on the issue of cloning animals for food production and consumption.  Etherton, Ph.D., M.S., B.S., is an enthusiastic supporter of animal cloning and also a master of the mixed metaphor, as he demonstrates in the quote wherein he demeans all those opposed to animal cloning (including some of his colleagues in the sciences and the academies) as “Luddites:”

If Luddites dent the scientific methods and turn the lights out–we are not preserving a brighter future, rather heading toward a train wreck.

Dent the methods?  Whaaa?

Anyway, according to the Wikipedia entry on “Luddite“:

The Luddites were a social movement of British textile artisans in the nineteenth century who protested – often by destroying mechanized looms – against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt was leaving them without work and changing their way of life. It took its name from the fictional King Ludd.

Well, call me a Luddite.  As we should have learned by now (and can no longer ignore as the oil slick spreads daily in the Gulf), technology is not the answer to every human question.  Furthermore, we can no longer allow scientists or academics such as Etherton to dictate what is reasonable or ethical simply because it is scientific.  As any good litigator knows, scientists can be found on every side of any subject.

Etherton is also quoted in the article as saying

We have to invest in technology to move forward.

Uh uh, Mr. Etherton, we do not “have to invest in technology” or “have to do anything” to move forward.  Time marches on, seasons pass, the sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes, babies are conceived, born, live and die–and all this without technology.

Scott Simplot, son of J.R. “Spud King” Simplot, chairman of Simplot Corporation, possibly the largest private owner of land in the United States, and world leader in frozen, processed stuff that resembles food is also quoted in the same article, opining (as only someone with as much invested as he has) could opine:

It would be a travesty for us to know as much as we do and not be able to bring it to the table.

No, Mr. Simplot, not being able to sell something is not a travesty.  That is hubris.  That is simply an inability to profit from an investment in R & D.  A true travesty is a “food product” that bear little resemblance to actual food.  A true travesty is a corporation working to keep information from the public because it knows we will not buy its engineered “food-like” items if we knew the truth.  And a true travesty is what the Simplot founder, Scott Simplot’s dear old Dad did (or claims he did) to wild horses to get his start in what is now a food production empire worth billions.

At pages 52 and 53 of a biography of the Simplot founder and patriarch written by Louie Attebery, entitled J.R.Simplot:  A Billion The Hard Way, J.R. gives this account of how he got his start in the agribiz–by killing wild horses and feeding them to his pigs along with his potatoes:

Oh, there was a hundred head of wild horses in that bunch, I think.  And I killed a couple with some brands on ’em, too . . . But I went out and settled with [the guy] who had some horses running loose.  Sold the hides.  You’d get a couple of bucks for a horsehide, and of course I didn’t take the whole hide.  I’d just cut him around the neck and I didn’t take the legs.  I sawed off the legs.  Then I put a rope on top . . . of the thing.  Then I’d put a big spike in the ground to hold him, and then I’d back up the car and jerk it (sic) I could jerk a hide off in nothin’ flat . . . . Then I’d take the quarters and throw ’em in the truck and go get another one.  It took about two horses every cook [bath].

Son Scott is quoted in a 2007 Business Week article, The Man Behind the Cloning Movement (also written by freelancer Pallavi Gogoi) as saying this about his father:

I guess we do share the same DNA.

Sorry about that, son.  Huh, for all we know J.R. is still alive.  Talk about a jerk.  Who needs cloning when you can produce one the old fashioned way.

Better to be a Luddite than a Simplot any day.


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