Indeed the issue of genetically modified foods continues to evoke an emotional ethical debate; the prevailing sentiment by many is that scientists in cross breeding animals and plants are attempting to play God, thus interfering with nature. However, it is also important to look at the benefits that are coming with this technology. One major benefit that has been hailed by the immense scholarly research on the subjects observes that such crops are economically viable. Most of the strains developed are both drought and disease resistant.
It is important to point out that farmers continue to lose millions of shillings on the devastations of diseases and drought. In the third world countries, millions face starvation due to the destruction of their crops by the vulgarities of weather. The application of pesticides and herbicide to fend off pests and plant diseases has been found to result to health hazards and also to be harmful to the environment. Genetically modified crops are in one stroke eliminating many of these risks.
Proponents of GM food claim that it is going to be a big challenge to feed the world’s population that is exponentially expanding; their view is that GM foods have the answer to this. It is leading to the creation of crops that are tolerant to weather, diseases and inhospitable environment. It will also offer a variety of food alternatives to many in the world. Malnutrition is a problem that continues to cripple Africa which is often riddled with gnawing poverty. Many in the third world countries for example rely on one type of crop as the source of staple food, largely causing malnutrition.
With the advents in this technology, there are huge prospects that some of these staple foods such as rice can be engineered to introduce a number of missing nutrients. In future too, there are plans to introduce vaccines in tomatoes for instance. Such progress will have the answer to the huge costs that are incurred storing these medicines. These crops can also be engineered to clean and conserve the environment. A prevalent example being given is that “nitrogen-fixing plants could diminish the requirements for nitrogenous fertilizers that pollute waterways; drought tolerant plants requiring less irrigation could lower demand for water.
(John 75) Indeed as has been observed, the issue of GM foods remains highly controversial and has been plagued by an ethical debate. The fact that the technology is relatively new indicates that it has been viewed with skepticism and fears. There are a number of warranted health concerns in regard to the food especially as there exists scanty research on the subject. There are also environmental concerns with some of the crops being seen as potentially harmful to the environment.
Most importantly is the fact that these foods have rubbed the conservatives in the wrong way, most of them are decrying the fact that this technology is an invasion of nature where scientists are attempting to play God. The mixing of animal genes and plants genes has not gone down well with some who see it as altering the orderliness of nature. It is important to observe though that this technology is without its benefits, those benefits however shall remain unexplored unless the raging ethical concerns are addressed.
All the potential harms should be identified and outlined and the public made aware of them to ensure they make the appropriate choices. Works Cited European Federation of Biotechnology, Task Group on Public Perceptions of Biotechnology. Antibiotic Resistance Markers in Genetically Modified (GM) Crops. Retrieved on January 21 2009 from http://www. efb- central. org/images/uploads/AntibioticRM_English. pdf . Martin Teitel, Kimberly Ann Wilson. Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company, 2001, 38 Gary Comstock. Vexing Nature?
On the Ethical Case Against Agricultural Biotechnology. Springer, 2000, 196 Naomi Lim. The Uncertainties of Genetically Modified Foods. 07-Jan-2002. Retrieved on January 21 2009 from http://serendip. brynmawr. edu/biology/b103/f00/web1/lim. html John C. Avise. The Hope, Hype & Reality of Genetic Engineering: Remarkable Stories from Agriculture, Industry, Medicine, and the Environment. Oxford University Press US, 2004, 75 Gerald C. Nelson. Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture: Economics and Politics. Academic Press, 2001; 271 Nina Redman. Food Safety: A Reference Handbook. Published by ABC-CLIO, 2007, 60