The Case of Genetically Modified Food

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Introduction

When the genes are changed and artificially transmitted into another organism, then this process is regarded as genetic engineering. Genetic engineering allows making a combination of various genes that are made from various DNA. The process of genetic engineering was initiated in the era of 1980s and since then it has developed a lot and has now made its way in the food modification too. We now witness a lot of food items available in the market that are a result of genetic engineering (Consumer Union, 1999). Matter becomes more complicated when the such type of foods are not labeled properly as genetically modified (GM) foods, and then cause poses serious health issues. This technology has been introduced even when scientists are unaware about the working of this modern era technology (EMS, 2000). This report would discuss about the case of Toxic Tacos, which was a genetically modified food, with respect to the ethical considerations, its implications on the stakeholder relationships, and whether it is right or wrong. The three parts of the reports would be examined separately under the heading of discussion. Lastly, conclusion would be given that would discuss the final comments regarding the technology.

Discussion

This section of the report would discuss the pros and cons as identified by the parties for genetically modified foods. The parties can be divided as one which favors the genetically modified food technology, whereas, the other party is one which negates the positive existence of genetically modified foods.

Initially, we will start by the supportive arguments of genetically modified foods. According to Tribe (2005, p. 1), the population of the world is increasing, which is already subdivided on the basis of developed and developing or underdeveloped world. The developed worlds has all the resources at its disposal to meet its needs, however, the people of developing or under developing world are dying daily due to hunger, non availability of food, or the availability of expensive food. The shortage of food, along with the provision of nutritious food for the developed and developing world has now become a chief issue. This issue can be addressed by increasing the crops yield per acre with the help of genetically modified foods.

Majority of the people living in the world are not literate, hence, are not able to comprehend the meaning or purpose of genetically engineered food. As mentioned by Mack (2007, p. 1) that the plants are genetically modified by altering various antibiotics.  The GM supporters often claimed that detractors normally exaggerate the potential environmental hazards, and obstruct the development of food revolution through technology. This proves to be a very helpful instrument in preventing bacterial infections. This technique could be applied on the plants so that they may develop immunity against the changing soil conditions like nutrient density, salinity, P.H value, insects, and weather conditions. A part from these harmful conditions, crop yields is greatly affected by the global warming. The artificial modification rather than natural selection in the plants can help in making the crop yield to increase (Mack, 2001, p. 1).

Now we would discuss the negative aspects that are connected with the genetically modified foods. The major argument is that the probable benefits that can be derived in the future must not be at the expense of the current hazards. The concern is that the technology must not be used extensively unless tested and proved to be better for the human consumption in short run and long run. The production of plants by genetically alteration may develop diseases in the individuals that may even reach to death in long run. Russ (2009, p. 1), discusses his personal experience of involving genetically modified foods in his diet and saw devastating result. Modified corn was the worst of all. The consumption of genetically modified food leads towards serious health issues. Most importantly rising blood pressure, diabetes, skin problems, etc. the author examined himself and found that most of the issues were directly related to the consumption of the genetically modified food. As he was allergic to the GM food, whenever he used to consume such type of food, he used to fall prey to some health problem. Whenever he used to avoid genetically modified food, he used to recover quickly. Hence, it shows that the consumption of genetically modified food is creating a lot of health issues. If such type of artificial food is consumed in large quantity, it may pose serious threats to the life of the individual.

Ethical obligations

This section would discuss that what are the ethical issue involved in genetically modified food and what steps can be taken by the companies to respond to the rising ethical concerns. First of all we would discuss the ethical issues pertinent to the companies. Companies incorporate various technologies to make profits by reducing their cost of doing business and increasing the productivity and efficiency. However, the technological development in the filed of genetically modified food has raised serious ethical concerns, which needs to be answered by the companies (ornl, 2008, p.1).

Bionetonline discusses in detail about the ethical issues and their answers on behalf of the industry. According to Bionetonline, majority of the people would object that producing genetically modified food is similar to becoming a god who produces food. It won’t be a good idea to interfere in the natural processes. But now the companies respond to this ethical issue by stating that if this technique is unnatural than how about a cow producing more milk, a chicken laying more eggs? This is all possible due to the extension in development. The technology is aimed at ensuring that finest quality is produced.

People are often afraid to eat a genetically modified food, considering it as unsafe. They consider it as a risk for the health and environment. The industry answers it by saying that a man is a part of the development. He is adaptable to the changes, despite the fact that they are safe or unsafe for the humans. Their usage determines their safety. If any unsafe acts are identified they would be immediately rectified. Another ethical implication is that whether or not the farmers would be able to reuse the genetically modified seeds or not. If the seed are sterile by the company then the farmers would have to buy those seeds again the next year. The patent regime of the genetically modified seeds would greatly affect the farmers, especially those living in the developing or underdeveloped countries. The simple answer to this ethical consideration is that the companies won’t be able to sell the seeds if the farmers do not posses the capability of buying those genetically modified seeds.

Ethical issues are also raised in case of the technology, which can raise the dependence of developing or underdeveloped countries on the developed countries where the genetically modified seed would be produces. However, the countries of west are thinking about raising the crop yield so that the entire world can have a smooth supply of food.

The genetically modified food rise concerns for the diseases, allergies, environmental hazards, and food risk. Although clarifications have been given by the companies but they are still not able to persuade the world about the technology. For instance, the case of infiltration of contaminated LL601 rice in conventional rice of America in 2006 has seriously raised the concerns of USA consumers. The company responsible for this genetic modification was Bayer, which patented the LL610 rice afterwards. Unless and until the companies don’t address the issues of the long term safety of human and environment, they won’t be able to justify the ethical concerns (geneticallymodifiedfoods, n.d).

The ethical issues can be catered by the companies, provided they receive support from the governments as well. Governments must develop research institutes to test and to continue work on this technology. Examination should be carried out before genetically modified food is marketed. Proper labeling should be done, stating that the product is a genetically modified food so that consumers are well aware of what they are using. Proper education need to be provided and awareness is to be created regarding the genetically modified product (Bates et al., n.d).

Stakeholder relationships

This section of the report would examine the importance of ethical factors in maintaining an effective relationship with the stakeholders. First of all we would identify the stakeholders who are involved in the business of genetically modified foods. They are the companies supporting genetically modified foods, the farmers, government, non governmental organization, and consumers. No one would deny that the stakeholders would judge the genetically modified crops and foods on the basis of the tradeoffs in terms of quality of food produced and the risk associated. Another important stakeholder that may influence the ethical aspects of genetically modified food is the media. Media has the power to make or destroy the image of the company. Hence, it is very important to keep media in mind before utilizing this mode of technology (García et al., n.d, 1).

According to Kalayanee et al., (2003, p. 1), incorporating stakeholder relationship analysis in the decision making process helps in identifying the risk if the problem is not accepted by the market. Before the product is introduced, it is important to reduce the element of risk, with respect to the perspective of every stakeholder. Building a stakeholder model would help in identifying the possible chances of failure as it helps in analysis the factors critical to success. Including stakeholders under ethical considerations would not only help in establishing long term cordial relationship, but also add to the confidence level. The companies could foresee that what cost could be incurred if the stakeholders reject the genetically modified product. Irrelevant expenditures can be avoided and product development can be done more effectively, making sure that all the ethical standards have been met. This can also save the company in saving its image in the market, preventing the situation in which the product is said to have found with errors in future and then modified later on.

As mentioned in a report titled “Genetically modified crops: The ethical and social issues” (p. 6) that the technology’s development and implementation is affected by the availability of a responsible, informed, and transparent contribution of the stakeholders. It is essential for the industry to develop ethical standards regarding the genetically modified food by involving the participation of environmental groups, farmers, consumers, relevant trade associations, the agrochemical and seed industry, and advisory committees. The active participation of group of all stakeholders of GM foods can change the practices and minimize the hazards involved in utilizing GM foods without proper human testing.

Conclusion

The technology of genetically modified food is simply an extension of the current technology. The world has now learnt to move ahead. The introduction of genetically modified food is one step ahead in the history of mankind. However, it is really important to see whether or not this technology is in the best interest of the masses or for only few people at the expense of the whole world. I conclude tha the technology is adoptable, provided it has been passed by the government agencies as safe. The technology must not be extended to the common use unless all the preliminary studies have been conducted. Research should be initiated to reduce the negative impacts of the technology, while maintaining the stated benefits of high crop yield and protection against the harsh weather conditions and bacterial infections. The purpose of genetically modified is very realistic and needs to be accomplished by the involvement of stakeholders and their ethical concerns.

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