For example, the plants produced through genetic modification can pollinate with the conventionally produced plants and can make them genetically modified as well. (Kaplan 1-15)
In addition to that, the genetically modified crops that were developed with a strong ability to resist herbicides, so that a large amount of strong weed killers can be used of them, have enabled the weeds to develop strong resistance against the herbicides and hence these genetically modified crops have led towards the production of 'super weeds' which are very difficult to control. There is a high probability that the genetically modified plants will lead towards the development of the 'super viruses' as the genes from the plants, which are designed to resist strong viruses, travel to other plants. (Kaplan 1-15)
Exclusion of People from the Experiment
If we keep aside the above discussed threats, another issue that confronts the genetic modification of plant is that, 'Do the people have the right to exclude themselves from the experiment?' Previously when any new technology, drug or medicine was introduced in any region the people had a right to be the users of the product or to avoid the usage of the product. Similarly in the case of the consumption of the genetically modified crops the people have a right to be the users or the non-users of the product. They shall be made very well aware of the content of the food that they are eating and the health uncertainties that are associated with that food. (Krimsky 11-26)
According to the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration, it is necessary for all the organizations to label their food and list all the relevant factors regarding their product on the label. According to a survey, people believed that labeling made the food more reliable for them. But in the case of the genetically modified food, labeling is not mandatory and hence people are not aware of the contents of the food that they are purchasing. This lack of labeling also makes it impossible for the people to analyze the immediate and long-term effects of the food and hence deprive people of their right to choose. (Krimsky 11-26)
Without the labeling of the genetically modified food the consumers are being deprived of their right to disentangle themselves from the experiment of the genetically modified food. All that the people can do is to opt for the organically produced food which is said to be ninety nine percent free of genetic modification. From the ethical point-of-view, consumers around the globe are deprived of their right to purchase. Only the consumers who have an access to organically produced food can enjoy food that is free from genetic modification. (Krimsky 11-26)
Religious and Dietary Ethical Concerns
The society in which we live has a number of religious and cultural concerns in relation to food. Some Jewish groups have a tradition of not mixing two food items in the same meal such as, milk and meat products, whereas, other groups have taboos regarding some food products, such as pork or shellfish. Hindus, on the other hand, do not eat meat and Vegans also do not eat meat, egg or fish. Another issue related to the genetic modification is that is it appropriate, from the religious and cultural point-of-view, for the people to eat things that they are prohibited to eat. (Krimsky 11-26)
The advocates of the genetic modification of food argue that if the genes of a prohibited specie is transferred into a plant then it does not matter a lot as eating the genes of the animal is not similar to eating the animal or specie itself. But the religious and ethical advocates reject this point-of-view. By amalgamating the genes of prohibited species in the food, the scientists violate the ethical and religious beliefs of the people. This issue gets graver when the people are not made aware of what they are eating. For instance, is it eligible for a Hindu to eat the genes of a cow or not, is a question that shall be answered by the person himself or the scholars of the respective religion and not the advocates of genetic modification. (Krimsky 11-26)
People's Perception about the Ethical Concerns Related to the Production of The Genetically Modified Crops
According to a survey conducted by Kitzinger and Davison, stated that people think that by producing genetically modifies crops the scientists are messing with nature or are playing with God. The technique of transferring the gene from some specie to another was regarded as unpredictable or unnatural by the people. People were also concerned about the health hazards that are associated with the consumption of the genetically modified food but they showed wore concern about the massive environmental hazards that can result from the genetic modification of crops. (Kitzinger and Davison 6-32)
Genetically modified crops are considered as great inventions by the advocates of science and technology but this technology is confronted with a number of ethical issues. Proper regulations and policies shall, therefore, be designed to address these issues and to make genetically modified food safe for the environment and the human health.
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Kitzinger, Jenny and Charlie Davison. Public perceptions of social and ethical issues around genetically modified foods: a focus group study. Cardiff: Cardiff University, 2001. 6-32. Retrieved from http://cf.ac.uk/jomec/resources/GMREPFIN.pdf
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