Ethics of Genetic Modification Technology Essay

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Modern society is on the verge of a biotechnological revolution: the foods we eat no longer serve simply to feed us, but to feed entire nations, to withstand natural disasters, and to deliver preventative vaccination. Much of this technology exists due to the rapid development of genetic modification, and today’s genetically modified crops are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Says Robert T. Fraley, chief technology officer for biotech giant Monsanto, “It’s like computers in the 1960s. We are just at the beginning of the explosion of technology we are going to see." Biotechnology’s discontents are numerous and furious, declaring the efforts of corporations of Monsanto to be dangerous and morally reprehensible. Inherent within the development of genetically modified crops is an enormous opportunity to do good as well as to create destruction. We must therefore examine the ethics of the process with appropriate caution .
Genetic modification technology has developed over thousands of years, from relatively simple cross-pollination to today’s complex biotechnology. Crops such as pumpkins, potatoes, oats, rice, and tomatoes would not exist today were it not for human intervention (Hopkins, .) Over time, farmers began experimenting with techniques such as cross-pollination in order to create larger, tastier, and more resilient hybrid crops. Today’s methodology is not as simple; by using recombinant DNA technology, the breeder can select a single gene and insert it into the genome of a receiver. In this way, scientists are able to alter the genetic makeup of an organism at the base level. Monsanto is currently developing a strain of soybeans that incorporate tasteless oil that, upon human consumption, c...

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...p:// ). This has been accomplished in large part to advances in genetic modification technology. Crops have been engineered to swell to great size, to generate their own pesticide, and to resist harmful chemicals – three of the many factors that contribute to maximized yields. Efforts to increase yields and provide food to the poorest, most devastated nations of the world are truly admirable, but these efforts come at great cost. Agriculture has become a cold industry in which average farmers are bullied by regiments of corporate watchdogs. If agriculture exists only to raise yields, it endangers the livelihoods of farmers, the sanctity of the environment, and, indeed, the purity of the practice itself. Within a few years, family-owned farms will be obsolete – a drastic consequence due almost entirely to the tyranny perpetuated by bioengineering.

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