The research paper will discuss food security through biotechnological engineering. It will also point out the potential benefits that society can derive from using advanced agricultural methods in food production. The writer will also discuss the research material derived from the years of experimentation. Finally, the paper will summarize the writer’s opinion on the subject matter.
Key words: Genetic modification, Food Security, crops, livestock and environment.
Thesis Statement: Man must come up with an ethical way to guarantee food security for present and future generations.
- Consequence of Personal Actions
Animals, the ecosystem and people may suffer the effects of advanced agricultural methods in food production. However, animals and people benefit most from personal actions.
III. Actual Harm
Actual harm includes increased global warming, environmental degradation and high incidences of disease in animals and human beings (Thomspon, 2011). Unethical agricultural techniques using excessive herbicides and pesticides can result in increased chemical residues on foodstuffs. The techniques can also expose farm workers to toxic chemicals. Unethical practices such as cloning can have negative effects on animals like sheep, goats and cows.
Cloning increases the likelihood serious genetic defects occurring in animals (Ruse & Castle, 2011). The first cloned sheep, Dolly, suffered deformed bones and a weak excretory system. People who eat cloned animals or meat that is enhanced with steroids are at the risk of suffering hormonal imbalances. Processing does not remove additives from the meat. Increased herds of cows will increase the amount of methane in the atmosphere. This affects the climate and causes temperature variations that can harm the environment.
Actual benefits include high yields, food security and efficient agricultural methods. A farmer practicing zero grazing can raise heavy beef cattle in the confined space (Fedorrof & Brown, 2011). Food security will improve because people will use technology to increase the yield per plant. For example, one crop could produce multiple yields in a single year.
- Potential Harm
Potential harm can come from substitutes that replace actual products. Scientists in Boston recently created a full beef patty from stem cells (Fedorrof & Brown, 2011). These contain DNA that can trigger cancer causing cells. Genetically modified plants can change the soil composition; it may become too acidic to support farming.
People will obtain food that caters to existing medical conditions easily. This will reduce the money they spend on hospital bills
- V. Reality check
Types of information and amounts available
The information is analyzed from academic journals, books and websites. According to the research material, a farm in the 1900’s averaged 80 hectares in size (Thompson, 2011). The manager employed 30% of the American labor force. By the year 2000, individual small scale farms shrunk to two million in number. These employed three percen of the entire population (Thompson, 2011). Currently, large farms predominate and produce 80% of America’s agricultural commodities (Thompson, 2011).
The information comes from several international organizations like the UNFAO, WTO, animal rights activists, scholarly journals/books and agricultural ‘think tanks”. The examples of scholarly journals include “Ethically and genetically modified Foods” by the University of California-Berkley SCOPE research group. One can also obtain information from the books such as “Vexing nature: On the Ethical Case against Agricultural Technology”. Academicians like Peter Hartel and Paul Thompson also provided useful information. Some of the authors teach agricultural engineering and biotechnology in universities. Others work for Non-Governmental agencies like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association.
ReliabilityAcademic journals provide factual and reliable information. The best data comes from the NGO’s because they keep updated records of agricultural developments. They compare these records with the data from around the world. Animal activists base their data on assumed similarities between animals and people (Ruse & Castle, 2011). They consider animals equal to man. The information provides accurate data in terms of numbers and percentages. For example, one can see the percentage and actual numerical decline in the number of small American firms. The information lacking here includes data from the American surgeon general and the WHO (World Health Organization). This data would provide a breakdown of the negative effects of genetic modification and biotechnology.
People can turn to natural farming methods that entail the use of organic fertilizer and fallow methods to keep the soil fertile. Organic fertilizer does not increase the soil’s acidity or Ph (Ruse & Castle, 2011). Keeping free range cattle or livestock will build their resistance. The livestock will provide quality meat without harmful additives.
VI. Application of Ethical Theories to Selected Issue
According to this theory, human beings have certain rights to ensure that others treat them in a just and fair manner. Therefore, no one can inflict physical harm or damage on another person’s property without justification (Thompson, 2011). Any action that harms an individual constitutes an ethical violation.
The utilitarian theory says that the consequences of an action determine whether it is right or wrong (Thompson, 2011). One can interpret good or adverse consequences differently. According to the utilitarianism theory, people should act to minimize harmful consequences and maximize beneficial results. However, some actions performed under free will can cause potential harm. Ethical actions should result in positive outcomes for the greatest number of people.
The virtue theory states that human beings should act according to certain ideals (Thompson, 2011). A fair or just person will show their virtue through actions. A wrong action does not follow ideals, and it prevents others from following them. An individual who does not follow virtue inflicts harm on themselves. They may also inflict harm on others by preventing them from seeking virtue.
V11. Time Urgency to Act Ethically on the Issue
In the near future, billions of people worldwide will achieve the middle-class status (Thompson, 2012). These people will want to emulate their developed world counterparts by eating protein rich meals. This means that people will reserve large tracts of agricultural land to produce animal feed. Twenty years from now, the world may face a shortage of critical foodstuff when the population reaches 9 billion. This might force scientists to adopt unethical methods to guarantee food security.
In conclusion, the writer feels that they should buy food crops grown using organic methods. They will also encourage family members to shop for food stuff that is free from preservatives. This will go a long way in preventing side effects such as cancers, which are quite expensive to treat. The writer will approach the local member of congress in a professional manner and request them to start a database. It will be useful in recording the amount of chemical pollutants in the soil after every four months. This will help farmers regulate their use of unethical agricultural techniques.
Fedorrof, N & Brown, Nancy. (2011). Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist’s View of Genetically Modified Food. New York, NY: Wiley Press.
Ruse, M & Castle, David. (2011).Genetically modified Foods: Debating Biotechnology. New York, NY: Springer Academic Press.
Thompson, P. (2011). CAST. Consul for Agriculture, Science and Technology. Journal of Agricultural ethics, 29, Feb 2011, 1-12.
Thompson, P. (2012). Agricultural Ethics. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.