TED Conversations

Charles Whithead

School

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Do you think Genetically Modified food (GM) is morally justifiable? How about the "Industrialisation" of food production?

We covered artificial selection today in Biology, and it got me thinking about the ethics of production. Animals like the Belgian blue cow are bred solely for their consumption as beef.

Expanding the topic, is it right to manufacture animals for food as we do in, say, battery farms?

+2
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 29 2012: As the population of the world increases and we face increasing threats from climate change, I can definitely see the benefits of genetically modifying food to our benefit. Crops are modified for advantageous agronomic features, like hardier corn with the ability to resist droughts, weeds and pests, thus reducing chemicals and resources needed to grow them. Others are altered to produce nutrients, such as golden rice. IMO, these are huge benefits that must not be underestimated, particularly as we enter a new era of unprecedented consumption.

    That being said, genetic modification has been plagued by a plethora of controversy. Firstly, there is the threat it poses on biodiversity. A worry with the GM agricultural industry is that the modified crops and animals will impinge on flora and fauna, competing (and probably winning) for the resources required for growth.
    There is also the health issue. While a range of GM foods have been approved for consumption, it must be noted that we have not been monitoring their effects on human physiology following long-term consumption. So while current studies have shown limited or no adverse effects, we can't definitely sy that these will not appear in the future. This arises from the fact that we simply do not know enough about DNA to be able to fiddle around with it and expect that the effects of our experimentations are isolated. As pointed out by B.E. Rollins in The Frankenstein Effect (yes, I do know how biased that title sounds, so I have read the text with the proverbial grain of salt) modifications may result in artificially elevated levels of certain hormones that may be found to have carcinogenic effects.
    And who's to say that these imbalances will not effect the organism either? Particularly for sentient animals.
    Of course, GM also leads to reduced variation, which really spells the end for any species.

    Just some I thought about. Time to get back to homework.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.