Genetically Modified Foods And (Some Of)The Ethical Issues Involved In This Debate

1258 words - 5 pages

Genetically Modified Food (GMF) is perhaps one of the most important and divisive issues occurring at this time, it is a global issue requiring much thought and forward thinking. There is much debate surrounding GMF, the environment, health, livelihoods, property rights and the future of agriculture are just some of the areas the development and introduction of GMF will affect. GMF is such a complex issue, and there are many stakeholders involved, these include; Governments, Multinational Corporations, Scientists, Farmers and members of the general populace, all of whom have their own concerns and agendas. It is imperative that some guidelines are put in place to ensure the equity of all involved and uniform rules across the board, Alistair MacIntyre warned, "A lack of rationally established and agreed procedures means that power and money often influence how such ethical considerations are assessed". (MacIntyre, 1998, p.87)There are many ethical questions raised by the issue of GMF, how will it effect the environment, does science have any boundaries, and what are the rights of consumers and farmers? These are just some of the questions that have been raised.The stakeholders of GMF come from all sides of the debate, the proponents believe that society should take a calculated risk with this new technology and the opponents believe that the risk is simply not worth taking (Hindmarsh, Lawrence & Norton, 1998, p.7).Both sides of this debate have valid arguments for and against GMF. Proponents, mainly made up of Scientists, Biotech corporations, Large agricultural businesses and some politicians are often egoist in nature, that is, they are acting out of self-interest. These groups argue that GMF will lead to not only better tasting and more nutritious food but also greater quantities of it. Plants will be created that can survive in extreme conditions including soil salinity and drought. Scientists will be able to enhance the quality of food by creating plants with increased protein and vitamin content, and build plants that are pest and herbicide resistant leading to a better seed for plant yield ratio. GMF, they believe, will help eliminate world hunger and reduce agricultural pollution. ( there are many benefits that could come with the development of GMF, the opponents, who are mainly altruistic, that is, they are acting for the benefit of others, warn that the risks associated with this new technology are too great, that there are simply too many unethical implications involved. The opponent's main issues of concern can be broken into four key areas: the environment, the health of consumers, the commercialisation of science and the exploitation of vulnerable groups.Opponents warn that we do not know enough about the effects GMF will have on the environment, there are many unanswered questions regarding the impact of the release of Genetically Modified plants into the ecosystem. One predicted...

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