Research paper on ethical and morality of genetically modified foods

Moral and ethical implications

Genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism in which a genetic material is altered by a process called genetic engineering. It is done on micro-organisms including bacteria, yeast, fish, mammals, plants and fish. This GMO in the modern world is a source of genetically modified foods. They are widely used in research and in the production of food. Simply put, modification in the organism means inserting of genes from a different species in a process called horizontal gene transfer or deleting some genes from the organism.
The process will lead to changing the organism to have different characteristic when growth from the normal intended to be used as medicine to counter organisms causing disease in the human body or in food where it is intended to grow faster for early maturity and with high yields to increase productivity. But of late they have been activism against the process raising ethical issues associated with the engineering causing unintended side effects or religious morality in recreating what God had created. On the other hand benefits super cedes the religious beliefs making human beings accept to some extend the applicability of the religious beliefs. In this paper we are going to discuss how it affects farmers, the religious view and the hunger situation in the world.
– What is the cost of this technology
This technology comes with lesser costs as compared to former technologies. With this technology, there are better yields which will lead to better crops. Also, there is decreased use of pesticides. This reduces the cost of using weeds. The overall cost of this technology is taken to be 931 million USD in Europe. This is the cost that is required to carry out the research.

A1. Is this technology creating jobs?

GMO food production has been taunted as a game changer in the sealing of the gap between the rich and the poor, especially in the developing world. The poor countries are, irrespective of the economic conditions prevalent in some of these them, have vast uncultivated land. GMO food crops are intended to mature faster and to be able to adapt to the changing weather condition and to be able to fight pest that usually attack crops and destroy them before maturity. The technology is intended to develop drought resistant crops and the plant will be able resist drought and enhance their survivability. In the world, since the introduction of the mass production of foods through genetic modification, countries have been adopting and embracing the technology, though many other countries are still apprehensive, to contract farmers to produce the crop in the process creating jobs. Since commercialization in the year 1996, twenty nine countries around the world have adopted the farming resulting in over 150 million hectares being put under crop production with statistics showing over 15 million farmers having planted crops meaning that these are quality jobs created by the technology around the globe. Over 90% of these are found in the third world countries like Eqypt and Burkina Faso. The farming in these countries has then resulted in increasing the income directly to these and improving the respective countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Jobs, moreover, are to be found in the value addition process in the transportation and processing to a final product (Adenle, 2011).

A1. Is the technology good for our markets?

With disagreements all over about the safety of the technology in producing what is save for human beings to consume, matters have never been resolved on whether to use the food for consumption or not. The proponents and opponents have been carrying out campaigns to use the food to alleviate hunger while the opponents have been campaigning to label products made from GMO food. The foods are nowadays in stores near consumers and those against the crop have demanded the labeling so that a consumer will decide to buy or not. With this back and forth kind of exchange which does not help, the authorities put in place measure that food companies using the technology should put information on the technology and to label the products as GM engineered to enable consumers to make informed decisions. But providing the information and labeling does not help sometimes as it may lead to making the food more expensive and the original intention of alleviating famine in some poor parts of the world is not achieved. There have been uncertainties in the safety of the food on the human risk it portents and the regulatory frame to guide the industry as it a means to transfer harmful organisms even by terrorists intending to harm people (Kruft, 2001).
The anti-GMO campaigns have led to authorities limiting the free movement of GMO food around the world owing to the negative perceptions created about the technology so much so that it creates imbalance of food supply in some regions of the world making creating scarcity of food causing famine in some and inflation. Countries and trading blocs have never been in agreement to set equal standardization framework to regulate the industry. European Union for example does not allow GMO in the entire block. Poor people not able to produce food end up suffering a lot. On the contrary the technology would have caused reasonable food supply in the world stabilizing price fluctuation in the process.
– What is the impact it is having on our farmers
There are benefits that this technology has on farmers. The reactions to this technology have been mixed to farmers. There are other farmers who have fully adopted the technology while others do not like the technology as they are concerned with the controversies that are surrounding this technology. Genetically modified foods generally affect farmers to the positive. Farmers are now able to get increased crop yield when they use this technology. This is because with GMO, there are seeds which have been discovered that produce better. Another benefit is that farmer’s get crops which are resistant to weeds. From this second benefit, one negative impact of this technology is that it could lead to developing of pests and weeds which are resistant to pesticides.

B1. Does genetically modified food affects our farmers negatively?

Despite the massive impacts of mass production of food, GMO crops can create a few problems that can negatively affect the farmers. One very huge problem is that during pollination in corn pollen grains can be blown from GM crops to non-GM which leads to mixing up and there is no way the resulting grains can separated. This may result in creating a very big distance between the two types requiring huge tracts of land to separate the two or even neighboring farmers creating conflict between them. This makes identity preservations in the farms almost hard.
While trying to kill harmful weeds and insects, it might result in future development of resistant organisms through evolution making the current efforts that have been made in eradicating such useless. It can involve an expensive research to counter the new threat and the process might go on forever, begging the question why was it started in the first place if the harmful organisms keep on mutating. These organisms might be resistant in future to the current herbicides and pesticides. Another problem with the technology is the likelihood that GM can have harmful impacts on beneficial organisms like Bt corn is believed to kill butterfly larvae, though no concrete research has be published indicating so. Research on this fact is going on.
GMO seed companies have contractual agreements with farmers to protect against harmful organisms and clauses to protect them during litigations. This put farmers on the losing end as their rights are limited by the legal agreements when they face legal suits if a consumer files a petition on compensation and criminal responsibility (Kruft, 2001).

B2. Are the farmers fighting to keep this technology away?

Farmers especially in the developing world have campaigning against GMO out of ignorance and campaigns by the opponents supporting farmers to plant the natural crops and shun the GMO. They claim that the harmful organisms are being damped on their countries. But when one considers their opposition, it stems from the fact that their countries have not allowed or have not encouraged mass commercialization of GMO crop production. The legal framework in these countries are not in place but when famine strikes foods are imported from outside to fight hunger often from Gm producing countries and hence they think that they are losing markets for their crops.
On the other hand farmers in the producing countries have in the recent past developed apprehension to GM farming out of the negative impacts named above which have been raised by environmentalists Some reasons that they do raise is the sustainability of the farming in the long run in case harmful organisms mutate if research proof so and the anticipated legal suits they are likely to face and they might be the only ones to bear the costs in case they are left at the mercy of seed producing companies and courts.
– Is this religiously correct
There are various views that regard this technology. It is believed that it is wrong to have something that go against what was instituted by nature. Many faiths go against this technology as they feel that nature is being distorted. There are varying religious views about GMO
C1. What do different religions say about this subject matter? Religions vary on the topic a lot and in many of the religions studied they have given wide views to support or to reject the application of the technology depending on different situations that arise. Islam for example is complex it goes deep than simply determining if certain foods are permissible or not. Quran for example does not approve modifying living things and it views as a sin but if the product is modified for a certain positive purpose it would not be prohibited so long as it promotes welfare of the society like reducing reliance on pesticides, medical grounds or even if genetically modified food is used to provide food for the less fortunate in the society then it has no problem so long as it has been certified so. But if at the end of the day profit is a motivation then it will violate some principles (Sherlock, 2002).
With Christianity the act of genetic modification is immoral but some church leaders have endorsed the modification saying that if the process is leading to positive results and is meant to alleviate poverty and to increase safe food production owing to population explosion then it can be allowed. But some have vehemently opposed the fact that the engineering might lead to organisms which have never existed or recreating a human being even those who died a long time ago. They argue that religion does not allow man to abuse the earth rather to use it and man was not created to recreate but to remain as a co-worker to God. Even if the earth is faced with a disaster science is not an intervention as nature wanted it that way.
Other small religions have quite a good level of apprehension but to some it has never been recorded and discussed in the religious circle hence no opinion so far.
– Genetically food being tested
Before the GM foods are allowed in the public domain, they have to be tested. There are regulations and standards that are being implemented to enable food to be followed. The reason for testing is because, in some instances, toxic circumstances may be borne out of the process.

D1. What are the regulations on these foods being tested?

Regulations have been captured in and given a framework to operate from by legislation by countries’ parliamentary and congressional legislation. The legislation provide for provisions on relating safety of food and health of the public. The regulations are developed scientifically to aid in policy creation for public health and health evaluation relating to the chemical components of the foods that are supplied to the entire public. These regulations are meant to safeguard the health of citizens. It extends to the adequacy of nutrition in regard to new foods in the market (Ahmed, 2004).
A process is established by which food undergoes a process of declaration of the contents and filing of documents accompanying the consignment at the relevant federal government standardization body and then subjected to rigorous process of scientific evaluation with scientists drawn from various disciplines. In the United States, there are many government agencies which have been given the responsibilities to implement the regulations sometimes leading confusion. They include Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USDA, and FDA (Food and Drug Adminsitration). EPA evaluates the plants that have undergone GM manipulation and they are evaluated by USDA to assess if they are safe and can be grown for consumption. EPA regulates substances that include such chemicals like pesticides or toxins may in any way have some negative impacts on the environment with such GM crops with B. t toxin like corn or herbicide tolerant crops but foods with modification in the nutritional content will be regulated by it. Drought-tolerant or disease resistant crops, animal feeds crops, fruits, vegetables and human consumption grains. FDA regulates pharmaceuticals, cosmetics no—whole foods, food products and additives. Therefore under the industry guidelines GM eaar of corn sold at the food store will not be regulated by FDA because it is a whole food but instead a collection of conflakes will have to be regiulated because it is used as food (Ahmed, 2004)
The final part in the process is the labeling to prevent fraud in respect with labels, and packaging. The food is properly labeled to ensure that a consumer makes am informed to consume. In the industry food produced from genetically modified organism should not be mixed with normal even in the processing lines in the factories to ensure they do not mix at all even through packaging and shipping.

D2. Should they be marketed without being tested?

No marketing should be allowed without testing. Testing ensures that all regulation are met which have discussed above to ensure that the food is not harmful and can be consumed by both animals and humans. The advertising in fact should carry a disclaimer about the technology so that as the consumer makes the decision he is prepared to bear the consequence on his action. Testing will provide accurate results that will indicate the health and safety of the food components. As has been discussed testing will give a safety standards and ensure there is no loophole that will be used by any one intending to abuse the system in future.
– World hunger
There are views that GM foods have helped alleviate world hunger. It is claimed that with the increase in crop yield, farmers are now able to produce higher yields and better. With this, there is now more food than before. Although this could be true, it is also true that most places in the world have not been able to use this technology.
– E1. Does this help in easing the problem of world hunger
Vast majority of the world are still food deficit areas including Africa, some parts of Asia and Latin America. Africa is the worst hit with the average use of mechanized farming below the world average. The agricultural situation is that there is still low use of fertilizer, pesticides and hybrid seeds than any continent in the world. Science will be answer to the continents endemic problems that has held food situation. Conflicts between communities and instability of families and government are as a result or the food situation. Agriculture is still a reserve of women who toil many hours but with low yielding crops to show at the end of the year. Almost half of the continent is semi arid or arid where agriculture cannot be able to be practiced while the population is characterized by nomadic lifestyle but sometimes extreme weather leads to massive deaths of animals kept by the nomads is grass dry out and water to be scarce.
GMO food is able to be produced in large scale cultivation farms around the world to give early maturing and high yielding produce. Early maturing crops can help hunger situations by providing timely food production and the farms can be re-cultivated in the same season to increase the amount of food. As has been mentioned earlier many parts of the world have food deficit situations caused by weather conditions. Sometimes weather in some countries is unpredictable characterized by longer dry spell than normal or too much rain hindering the smooth maturing of crops and Genetically Modified crops can be able to thrive in such erratic weather with even higher yields. Over population in some countries has strained the land resource reducing land where meaningful agricultural farming can take place. These countries to bridge the gap for the food deficit it resorts to importation which can be expensive and putting a strain on the national budgets. Previously uncultivated land has been reclaimed by some countries to increase population areas and agricultural fields. But one of the solutions is to cultivate GM food with high yielding capacity and early maturing (Adenle, 2012).
Diseases and pest attacks can sometimes result in massive destruction of food crops creating high food shortfalls. Pests like locusts can attack and wipe out the entire crop in the farming fields requiring that science to come in to try and solve these problems. The technology has resulted in the re-engineering of the genetic makeup and content which can make the crop resistant to such diseases or ability to produce a toxin which can kill a pest like the Bt toxin in corn.
In some areas of the world agriculture is still practiced using traditional methods where the seeds are recycled to the extent that it yields are very low and the farming methods does not use modern agriculture. These people might be left in perpetual poverty. The farms might be small to allow mechanized farming to take place. In some instances the crops they are growing have low nutritional content and policies have to be formulated to solve the issues once and for all. Food supplements can be used to fight malnutrition in some countries where some members of the society are poor to be able to provide for themselves food with a balance in the important nutrients.
Storability of some food crops can be an issue in that some crops even after harvesting can go bad at the storage facility due to high humidity destroying food that farmers have worked have to produce. Going bad at the store can result in the development of poisonous microorganisms like afflatoxin. Science has yielded in the development hardier grains able to resist the development of such.

Conclusion

GM foods have brought a revolution to food production. Although there are negative effects with this technology, there is positive use of this technology. Farmers are the direct beneficiaries of this technology. Generally, yield in crop production has been experienced. The investment in GMO is worth as it has helped in changing the genetic make-up of some organisms. Mote benefits have been realized than negative ones. It can be said that people have positively embraced the technology.

References

Adenle, A. (2011). BMC Research Notes. Vol. 4: 388.
Adenle, A. (2012). Are Transgenic Crops Safe? GM Agriculture in Africa. United Nation University. Retrieved on 29th November 2012 from
Ahmed, F. (2004). Testing Genetically Modified Organisms in Food. USA . New York. Food Products.
Kruft, D. (2001). Impacts of Genetically-Modified Crops and Seeds on Farmers. Retrieved on 29th November 2012, from
Sherlock, R. & Morrey, J. (2002). Ethical Issues in Biotechnology. USA. Boston. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.