1997年 6月，美國防部長William Cohen警告，「某些病是針對某類特定種族，可能將該種族全清除掉。」有幾個國家都已報導，擁有針對特定種族的基因工程病毒。
我們真有影響力嗎？甚至想減緩當前進展速度都極為困難。然而希望還是有的。幸運的是，在這個領域少數經過良好訓練的科學家，看到了其中的危險，勇敢地將良心中的話講了出來。其中的幾位是：有責任感的基因學委員會的Stuart Newman教授、加州柏克萊大學的Richard Strohmann教授、Open University的 Mac-Wan Ho博士、關注科學家聯合會的 Mafgaret Mellon和Jane Rissler博士。
Furthermore, nature as wilderness provides an effective place for meditation, one where rapid progress can be made. In self-cultivation, harmony with nature involves the ability to find a place for practice where the natural energy is auspicious. Nature acts as a mirror for seeing the deep workings of our own body-minds. When we are alone in the wilderness, the distinctly human afflictions of others are absent, and so cannot reinforce our own afflictions. Imagine what would happen if we genetically engineered ourselves so that we could no longer resonate with the natural patterns of nature. These are not the kinds of concerns that can be laid to rest by any scientific data.
Biogenetic warfare is the most serious short-term threat of genetic engineering to human life. Because Buddhism is a fundamentally pacifist tradition, it should be gravely concerned with the use of genetic engineering in warfare as an efficient means for causing widespread suffering and death. International terrorists have already begun seriously considering the deployment of genetically engineered viruses. This use is almost impossible to regulate because the same equipment and technology that are used commercially can easily be transferred to military application. During the late 1980s, the former Soviet Union had 60,000 people working on biowarfare, including genetically engineered pathogens. In one of their more frightening projects, they attempted to combine the smallpox virus with the Ebola virus. No one knows for sure where most of these scientists have gone or what they have taken with them.
In June, 1997, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen warned about 'certain types of pathogens that would be ethnic specific so that they could eliminate certain ethnic groups.' Several countries have reportedly already been genetically engineering viruses that target specific ethnic groups.
Despite the benefits of genetic engineering trumpeted in the media—primarily to repair genetic flaws, cure disease, and increase food production—in the overwhelming number of cases, I believe the price is too high to pay. To insure mega profits for multinational corporations well into the next century, we will have to mortgage the biosphere, seriously compromise life on the planet, and maybe even harm our potential for enlightenment. Genetic engineering poses serious risks to human health and to the environment. It raises serious ethical questions about the right of human beings to alter life on the planet, both sentient and non-sentient, for the benefit of a few.
What makes genetic engineering special is both its power and its irreversibility. Its ability to harm human, animal, and plant life is a dramatic leap greater than most other technologies and does not leave room for mistakes. Results of flaws in this technology cannot be recalled and fixed, but become the negative heritage to countless future generations.
If there are some areas of genetic engineering that can safely benefit humanity while respecting other forms of life, then efforts need to be redoubled not only in the area of scientific risk assessment and use of the precautionary principle, but also in developing broad ethical guidelines. Since the scientific establishment is acknowledging the need for public input, there is a window of opportunity for introducing the perspective of Buddhist ethics to current moral questions about proposed research in genetic engineering. It is also important for the public to demand scrutiny and regulation of the industry's revolving-door relations with academia and government.
Can we really have an influence? Even slowing the inexorable progress of the current trends will be extremely difficult. Yet there is hope. Fortunately, a vocal minority of well-trained scientists in the field, such as Prof. Stuart Newman of the Council for Responsible Genetics, Prof. Richard Strohmann of the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. MaeWan Ho of the Open University, Drs. Margaret Mellon and Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists, to name just a few, see the dangers of what is occurring and are brave enough to voice their consciences.
Clearly the key is educating the public about what is happening. We need to have confidence that ordinary citizens working together can build a foundation of collective wisdom that can show us the way through the incredibly complicated maze of issues surrounding genetic engineering. Can we make the problems go away? Probably not. But successes are possible: The Third World Network, under the leadership of Prof. Vandana Shiva, has mobilized India and other underdeveloped nations to resist multinational corporations in search of genetic profit. In Europe, heightened public awareness of the dangers of genetically engineered foods has recently forced the major corporate players to back off from plans for their widespread introduction there. Here in the United States, the organic food lobby, the Mothers for Natural Law, and others have orchestrated a public education campaign about the dangers of such food, so that attempts to include genetically engineered food as organic under the National Organic Standards Rule have not succeeded.
From a Buddhist perspective, the problems with genetic engineering are no different in principle from most other problems we face in our daily life. They are all the result of afflictions—desire, anger, ignorance, and so forth. What makes the situation with genetic engineering unique is the difference in the degree of damage it can do to life on the planet and the irreversibility of its effect on us and on the environment. There is probably not a single answer to the question of what Buddhists should do about these problems. Some may decide to work actively with the many groups trying to raise public awareness and stop the most blatant dangers. Others may prefer to work directly on the mind ground and try to generate the wisdom and compassion that transforms the minds of all sentient beings toward awakening. Yet others will undoubtedly put their heads in the sand and let the karma fall where it may.