GMO Ethics

1036 words | 4 page(s)

The term “inherent value” essentially describes things, thoughts, and emotions that are desired simply for their own sakes (Riukas.) Things have value in and of themselves; for example a rainbow is beautiful, does not serve any actual purpose or meet any need but is valuable and cherished simply because of what it is.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are created by using gene-splicing methods developed by biotechnology; this particular science permits DNA material from one distinct species to be injected into a second one in a laboratory setting. The result is a variety of combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and viral genes that are not naturally occurring in nature or being produced as a result of more conventional methods of crossbreeding (Priesnitz, 2013.) The incentive to be involved in such methods is largely a financial one, since biotechnology firms as well as large-scale agribusinesses derive tremendous financial benefits by producing GMOs. For example, seeds can be modified to make them resistant to insects or tolerant of herbicides, and produce can be altered so that it lasts longer or can be shaped to make transporting it more efficient. People who support the use of genetically engineered crops believe that it is advantageous to the environment because of the decreased need to use herbicides and insecticides as well as their ability to help farmers and provide solutions to food shortages.

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However, the issue of GMOs is not without controversy. It is unclear whether or not these products have long-term health impacts, although there is an increasing amount of research that may suggest there are many dangers to both the health of animals s well as the environment. One nonprofit group has conducted a large body of scientific research, and has indicated that GMOs can be extremely toxic, allergenic, and less nutritious than their counterparts that have been produced naturally. In addition, these opponents believe that GMOs will disrupt the eco-system as well as damage vulnerable plant life and animals, harming biodiversity (Priesnitz, 2013.) There is also concern that using GMOs encourages insect resistance and ultimately, the development of more toxic pesticide products while delivering results that are no better and often worse than traditional crops. There has been concern that GMOs will aggravate a variety of social and economic problems and that once they are released, they cannot be taken out of the environment; this will lead to the unintentional dissemination of genetically engineered plants that will contaminate crops that are grown organically.

Agribusiness and large corporations who engage in producing genetically modified crops have spent millions of dollars to promote their use, advertising to consumers as well as governments to convince people that they are safe to eat as well as nutritious. There have been worldwide objections to the use of genetically modified organisms, and the European Union as well as other nations have either banned or significantly regulated them, or have become involved in campaigns to make labeling of such crops mandatory. In the United States, the labeling issue has been the most recent controversy, with big business investing a tremendous amount of money whenever the issue has been put to voters to decide whether or not to make labeling mandatory. So far, the industry has succeeded in defeating every referenda.

The difference between GMOs and life that occurs naturally involves the genes; as stated, when creating genetically engineered organisms, genes are spliced and used in combinations to create entirely new species of plants and animals. These products are controlled to maximize profits by creating products that have all of the benefits and none of the disadvantages, supposedly, of products that have been developed naturally. They mature faster, assume shapes that are optimal for transport, grow bigger, and exhibit a variety of characteristics that are better for the market. When life occurs naturally in plants and animals, there is no scientific interference with the process, so that the results of breeding and planting are free to flourish or not depending on their natural progression. This process is risky for big business, because the life process is accompanied by risks that threaten to interfere with a successful product, such as plants and animals that get sick, or fail to thrive, or only mature into an average size.

Although there is no definitive information about the toxicity of genetically modified foods on humans, there is a great deal of information about their impact on animals. Genetically modified foods have been associated with toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals (GMO Education, 2013.) Although there has been a lack of studies on humans, one can easily surmise that if animals are being affected in such drastic ways, it is certainly not a stretch to conclude that people would also have similar health effects from being exposed to GMOs. It makes sense to speculate that when nature is tampered with in such significant ways, there is likely to be some form of fallout that would not be beneficial. If animals are being given medications and hormones, for example, to make them mature faster, it is logical that people who consume these animals or their byproducts are also being exposed to those same drugs. Since in modern times, puberty has affected children at younger and younger ages, one wonders how such changes have been precipitated by the types of unnatural substances and chemicals to which people are exposed constantly. If plants are being sprayed with chemicals that are toxic enough to kill insects, clearly they present risks to the animals that graze on them and ultimately, the people that eat the animals and the plants. The long-term consequence of GMOs have not been established because they have not been around for a long enough period, but it would be naïve to assume that there would not be some consequence of interfering so drastically with natural processes.

  • GMO Education. (2013). Retrieved from Responsible
  • Priesnitz, W. (2013). What’s the Problem with GMOs? Retrieved from Natural Life Magazine:’s-the-problem-with-GMOs.htm
  • Riukas, S. (n.d.). Inherent and Instrumental Values and Ethics. Retrieved from Boston

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