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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?

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  • Mar 2 2012: We have been modifying food sources from the time we started intermittent agriculture and animal domestication, often for a specific purpose that we have decided upon. The addition of G to the M is another attempt to do the same. Unfortunately, we currently possess imperfect knowledge on the effects of these modifications. Nature has had millions of years in which to 'weed' out the versions that are not viable, yet we are trying to produce the same effects in an extremely limited time.

    The assumption that being able to print out a plant's or animal's genome confers absolute knowledge of that genome is premature, at best, and dangerous at worst. Genes express themselves in many ways, with many connections that are still unknown to us. Current medical information indicates that the expression can also be time sensitive.

    Morally justifiable is a very subjective statement. If GM crops are offered to alleviate obvious shortfalls, then that can be justifiable. If they are patented so no one can use them without permission and payment, is that justifiable?

    Many GM crops that I have heard of are modified more to accepting of higher levels of ambient fertilizer use and/or herbicide resistance, rather than nutritive value and/or direct predator resistance. To me, that is the morally unjustifiable aspect of GM foods. Especially if the patentor is also the manufacturer of fertilizer or herbicide.

    'Natural' crops have arrived where they are through a 100 million year long 'war' with the creatures that prey upon them, much as we have developed resistances to disease and parasites. Perhaps our inablility to wait, and seeing only the profit motivation is the morally unjustifiable action.

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