With the emergence of new technologies, the society faces new ethical dilemmas. Genetically altered foods raise may questions in relation to their ethics. I believe that it is acceptable to alter food genetically. However, I am convinced that it is unacceptable to offer such foods for mass consumption. From the perspective of utilitarianism, genetically altered foods can hardly benefit consumers. Until their qualities, effectiveness, and safety are confirmed, such foods will play a minor role in achieving the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Another problem is that the society does not perceive the production of genetically altered foods as an ethical dilemma. Not surprisingly, many societal concerns surrounding the issue are yet to be resolved. For instance, the public has little trust in the regulatory institutions that must conduct risk analyses and communicate their results (Frewer et al., 2004). No less controversial is the issue of trust in corporations, which are not ethically obliged to label their genetically altered products (MacDonald & Whellams, 2007).
Still, not all researchers support the ethical position mentioned above In their journal article “Consumer Autonomy and Availability of Genetically Modified Food”, Siipi and Uusitalo (2011) write that, without genetically altered products, the food market restricts consumers in their autonomy and food choices. Even if consumers refrain from buying GMF, they should have an opportunity to make such decision, which is impossible in the absence of genetically altered foods in the market (Siipi & Uusitalo, 2011).
Jefferson (2006) highlights a different aspect of ethics in her article “The Ethical Dilemma of Genetically Modified Food”. In her view, the society should decide whether the harm caused by the use of pesticides is less tangible than the harm caused by altering the genetic structure of the plant (Jefferson, 2006). Obviously, both articles are important in the analysis genetically altered foods from an ethical perspective. The society itself should initiate a broad analysis of the ethical issues associated with genetically altered foods and monitor the ways, in which they are addressed.
- Fewer, L., Lassen, J., Kettlitz, B., Scholderer, J., Beekman, V. & Berdal, K.G. (2004). Societal aspects of genetically modified foods. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 42, 1181-1193.
- Jefferson, V. (2006). The ethical dilemma of genetically modified food. Journal of Environmental Health, 69(1), 33-34.
- MacDonald, C. & Whellams, M. (2007). Corporate decisions about labeling genetically modified foods. Journal of Business Ethics, 75(2), 181-189.
- Siipi, H. & Uusitalo, S. (2011). Consumer autonomy and availability of genetically modified food. Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Ethics, 24, 147-163.