Pfizer’s ‘Directed Evolution’ and Other Big Pharma Word Games
How companies obscure reality with technical jargon to avoid legal and social liability.
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Last week Project Veritas released footage of an undercover interview with Jordan Walker, Pfizer’s Director of Research and Development Strategic Operations, who revealed shocking insider details about Pfizer’s current strategy for developing COVID-19 vaccines. Walker said that Pfizer is “exploring” mutating COVID in the lab in order to preemptively develop vaccines for them in case COVID spontaneously mutates that way in the wild. But this, Walker explains, comes with the risk of creating a new variant that escapes the lab and “goes everywhere.”
When the undercover Project Veritas journalist suggested this sounded like “gain-of-function” research, a highly controversial type of research that has been under intense scrutiny for being a potential factor in causing the COVID-19 pandemic, Walker responded that Pfizer was “definitely not” exploring gain-of-function research, but was instead engaging in something called “directed evolution.” Walker explained the process in more detail:
Well, you’re not supposed to do Gain-of-Function research with the viruses. They’d rather we not. But we do these selected structure mutations to try to see if we can make them more potent. So there is research ongoing about that. I don’t know how that’s going to work. There better not be any more outbreaks because, like, Jesus Christ.
On January 27, two days after Project Veritas’ exposé, Pfizer released a statement denying that they are performing any “gain of function or directed evolution research.” I will not pretend to know whether Pfizer’s statement is true, but I will tell you with certainty that large corporations like Pfizer will engage in word games and endless gaslighting to ensure you are forever kept in the dark.
I know this because I worked for a large corporation that engaged in nearly identicle risky research practices that they obscured with word games to evade the regulations and social stigma associated with certain types of research. Just like Walker claimed Pfizer was performing “directed evolution” as opposed to “gain-of-function” research on COVID, other large corporations have been evading the “genetically modified organism” label for their products by performing what they euphamistically call “encouraged evolution.” However, as I’ll explain below, the main difference between “directed evolution” and “gain-of-function” research, just like the difference between “genetic modification” and “encouraged evolution,” is the route taken—not the destination.
What’s more, these alternative “evolutionary” methods are not performed because there are fewer public health concerns associated with them (they may in fact come with more public health risks), but because they are less legally dangerous to pursue and these terms have yet to accrue levels of social stigma on par with “gain-of-function” research or the label “GMO.”
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