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Food Irradiation Essay

1689 words - 7 pages

For the past 50 years, scientists have been studying the subject of food irradiation (Fan and Sommers 2). Food irradiation is the process where food is exposed to controlled amounts of ionizing radiation for a certain time to eliminate some microorganisms that cause diseases. Plus, the irradiation also prolongs the shelf life of some foods because the cells that are responsible of the spoilage of the food will be killed just like the microorganisms (Wilkinson 2,3). Knowing the benefits and the consequences of this way of processing food, should it be allowed in Canada? A utilitarian would be for Canada accepting irradiated food in their food shelves, because it is a way to improve the food quality so therefore, it benefits us. A natural law theorist would be against it because irradiating food is unnatural since it modifies the genetics of food. As for me, I would not want Canada to allow irradiated food because it would make the food unnatural.

First of all, a utilitarian would be in favour of Canada accepting irradiated food in their grocery stores, because since irradiating food improves the quality of the food, it benefits us. In Utilitarianism, people consider what is right or wrong according to the need of maximising the best outcome for every people concerned (“The history of utilitarianism”). Let us weigh the good effects of food irradiation against the bad effects. To begin, food naturally rots because of scientific changes like the activity of microorganisms. Microorganisms spoil the food and lead to a great number of people dying every year because of food poisoning diseases (Wilkinson 1). For instance, salmonella is a disease that affects humans, where bacteria contaminate food, mostly animal products. Irradiating the food kills those harmful microorganisms by breaking the bonds that hold them together (“Food Irradiation: A Safe Measure” 1). The benefits of food irradiation do not stop there, in addition to preventing food poisoning; food irradiation extends the shelf life of the food by killing the microorganisms (“Food irradiation: what you need to know” 1). Given these points, irradiated food seems like a more advantageous solution than untreated food. Most people’s concern is the “irradiation” part of food irradiation. Although the term has been the synonym of some of the greatest horrors of humanity (Chernobyl, Nagasaki), the irradiation of food does not produce the same effect for humans as those events did. Despite the popular belief, irradiated foods are not radioactive and do not cause any harm to humans (“Food irradiation”). Granted this, food irradiation still has some negative effects. Most sceptic people would treat the issue of food irradiation this way: since radiations kill the organisms in the food, the nutrients are also affected, thus, it can be concluded that food irradiation also reduces the quality of the food. On the other hand, scientific researches have proven that the effect of irradiation has a very small...

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