Capitalism: The Soil Where Food Grows
Foods we consume can be looked upon as somewhat vastly different than the foods consumed by our predecessors. Technology and scientific innovation progresses at a staggering and nearly exponentially greater rate from each year to the next, and its reach leaves little industry untouched. Most mass-produced foods we eat today contain some level of preservatives, alterations or other biological modifications. In a sense, it is almost as if we should redefine the simple name of what we eat. Is a carrot still a carrot? What gives the food we eat a name?
The debate on genetically modified foods is one that continues to carry stronger and stronger ...view middle of the document...
As a consequence, they are lacking nearly all of the nutritional elements that rice does not have – such as Vitamin A. Without Vitamin A, two common ailments occur: blurred vision and diarrhea. To address this problem, scientists genetically modified the rice they ate to include a Vitamin A supplement – extracted from daffodils. Accordingly, the rice changed to a more golden color.
From this example, we see that the concept behind genetically modified foods has provided a substantial benefit – and we can already see a wide range of continuous benefits from doing so for other means. Researchers estimate that altering food groups that a large body of people depend on to include additional nutrients, especially in the case of Southeast Asia, that approximately two million lives could be saved every year.
There is one great scientific barrier to genetically modifying foods to contain additional nutrients, however. In the case of rice, because Vitamin A is not inherently native to the crop, simply modifying its genes with another plant does not provide a significant amount. That is, one would have to consume a considerable amount of this new modified rice to gain the required nutritional benefits from Vitamin A. In order for this new breed of rice to make a relevant impact, almost all the farms would have to grow it – that, in turn, leads to a massive decline in biodiversity.
That, however, is what activist organizations such as Greenpeace presume. So who's right? The greatest issue we see in addressing macro-scale ethical concerns such as this revolve around who we get our facts from. Defenders of this new “gold rice” would say that the new modified rice was not intended to completely replace Vitamin A from other sources, rather only to supplement it. It would appear to many that modifying the rice is the most ethically sound argument given the scenario. On a basic level, a small supplement of Vitamin A (referred to as provitamin A when modified) is better than none whatsoever. Even if the crops cannot be monopolized and grown to the scale of maximum effectiveness, the point therein is to help solve a problem – which it seemingly does.
Therein lies the main principle behind the benefits of genetically modifying foods – opportunity. Science rarely offers end-all solutions in a single swing. It is, perhaps, detrimental that critics of some genetically modified food practices quickly condemn the act. Scientific breakthroughs come through experimentation and stages, and so long as they remain on the path to absolute betterment, it should be received as overall beneficial. Adding nutrients to foods that impoverished regions consume to, at the very least, supplement their diet seems as noble and as ethically sound as any other cause. This should not be the fundamental focal point of the argument against genetically modified foods. The problems that should be addressed, however, lie in corporations like Monsanto who monopolize over...