Genetically Modified Organism Issue
One of the pressing issues today that cuts across several segments of society is the spread of genetic modification technologies. Among other things, the moral issues surrounding its application created widespread debates. Scientists have their reasons of pursuing their quest for human advancement, but the people who have high regard to morality throw a lot of questions on the validity of their reasons and arguments. As far as the moralist is concerned, we stand to the point that genetic modification technologies are an intrusion to the law of nature and an ultimate attempt of human’s quest to “play God.”
Scientists believe genetic engineering as the promising solution to the world’s common problems. The benefits of genetic modification include:
In the next century world population is expected to increase and feeding everyone is a concern of every governments. Transgenic plants, according to scientists, can help in the area of food sufficiency, through production of high yielding crop varieties; improving plant tolerance against extreme conditions such as drought or floods; increasing resistance to pests; and increasing resistance to herbicides (Human Genomic Information System). These improvements would reduce production cost, reduce wastage, increase yield per hectare and thereby increase food availability. Today, varieties of peanuts and corn resistant to pests are already grown throughout the world.
Health services improvement and other supposed benefits
In health, genetic modifications can aid in making life saving drugs in large amounts. According to C. L. Keefer, transgenic biologist in West Virginia, “Transgenic livestock that produce recombinant proteins in their milk can provide an economic and safe system for production of valuable proteins, such as pharmaceutical proteins for treatment or prevention of human disease or biomaterials for medical use”. As an example, insulin and the clotting factors are made by human systems. If we insert the gene that is capable of producing insulin from humans into cows in the right way, then we can get the cows to produce the insulin or clotting factors in their milk. Then we have a potential mass producer of insular greater than human is capable of doing. In the areas of nutrition, common staple crops like rice, corn, root crops, and others can be modified to produce varieties high in necessary nutrients.
In the area of environment, organisms can be modified to degrade non-biodegradable plastics and other materials and make them more useful to the environment (HGMIS). These and a lot of other things and areas scientist claim where GM can help .
The moral stand on GMO Trespassing the domains of nature
Despite the potential benefits that the scientific community is claiming on the use of genetic engineering there are a lot of moral repercussions the use of it can inflict on the society. As believers of moral values we have the obligation to support programs to feed the hungry. But we also have equal obligations with environmental protection. Judith Scoville, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy in Minnesota states that “ Although genetic engineering promises environmental benefits and more production from current farmland with less use of chemicals; it seems that this process in one way or another is a step towards human domination over nature. It therefore puts in question the limits of human intervention in nature.” Food sufficiency is a universal problem but man should find solution within the boundaries of his domain. We can compress our ingenuities to the limit without sacrificing our morals and dignity and we can find a solution to our problems without changing nature’s way ourselves.
Unequal to the less privileged
It is a proven fact that some GM foods have allergic effects to sensitive individuals but due to oppositions from the public some of these foods are marketed or integrated into processed foods without our knowledge. This may put the lowly buyers in jeopardy. Health service practitioners around the world fear this problem maybe felt and could not be contained if measures will not be instituted. Cullen suggested that to accurately assess any adverse health impacts, it is necessary to have baseline health data collected prior to the introduction of any GM food. But this can hardly be done. The technology therefore has caused those consumers who have limited choices to be at the forefront of the hazards. In this case human beings are used as experimental medium to test other human’s ideas. This is a definite no-no to our moral standards.
It become another tool to increase disparity between rich and poor
Production of transgenic plants is expensive since it uses costly technology and advanced facilities. Companies producing GM seeds in countries such as the US desire to produce more revenues on them because they put a lot of resources into making them. Poor countries are concerned to become merely users of the GM technology but not producers as well. This would cause disparity among the benefits derived from the adoption of the technology. As a result the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer.
We have seen how moral issues have affected majority of the people especially the needy and the vulnerable sector, the young and the aged. They had been the victims of so many blitzkriegs these society has as far as scientific advancement is concerned. The atomic bomb wiped out more innocent people in Japan than what was targeted. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in the USSR has put the environment in jeopardy. Never again should human experiment and play the domains of God which he doesn’t fully understand. We have a lot of lessons from the past. Why then should we not learn from them?
Cullen, E. Genetically modified food and health – a cause for concern? Irish Doctors Environmental Association [IDEA]. 24 January 2008 <http://www.ideaireland.org/gmfoodhealth.htm>
Keefer, C. L. Production of bioproducts through the use of transgenic animal models. ScienceDirect. 24 January 2008. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T43-4CG0SF7-5&_user=10&_origUdi=B6VRV-43K8CW0-J&_fmt=high&_coverDate=07%2F31%2F2004&_rdoc=1&_ orig=article&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=b24cf1bca408f144343ddb80ff88a3db>
Scoville, Judith. Do Christians Have a Moral Obligation to Support Agricultural Biotechnology? National Catholic Rural Life Conference. 21 November 2000. 25 January 2008. <http://www.ncrlc.com/ge-ag-webpages/Moral-Obligation.html>
The Holy Bible.The New King James Version. Thomas Nelson. National Publishing Company. 1985
Human Genomic Management Information System. “Genetically modified foods and organism.” Genomics.energy.gov 24 July 2007. 6 February 2008. <http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml>