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Ethics and the Impact of Technology on Society Engineering 124

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Title: Ethics and the Impact of Technology on Society Engineering 124


1
Ethics and the Impact of Technology on Society
Engineering 124
  • Ethics and
  • Genetically Modified Foods

Joseph Gurdock Stephanie Vargas Paul Romeo II
2
What are Genetically Modified (GM) Foods?
  • GM is a special set of technologies that alter
    the genetic makeup of such living organisms as
    animals, plants, or bacteria
  • genetically modified, genetically engineered,
    or transgenic
  • Debates focus on human and environmental safety,
    labeling and consumer choice, intellectual
    property rights, ethics, food security, poverty
    reduction, and environmental conservation.

3
GM Technology
  • Traditional genetics cross breeding
  • Hundreds of new mutations among the genes
  • Genetic engineering allows scientists to select a
    single gene
  • TECHNIQUES FOR GM TECHNOLOGY
  • Soil bacterium, first genetic engineer
  • Biolistics uses a gun to fire the desired gene
  • Protoplasts plant cell walls removed
  • SOURCE BBC NEWS ONLINE

4
Partial list of GM Foods
  • Kelloggs Corn Flakes
  • Heinz Baby Cereal
  • Nestle Carnation Infant Formula
  • Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
  • Ultra Slim Fast
  • Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
  • Alpo Dry Pet Food
  • McDonalds McVeggie Burger
  • Old El Paso Taco Shells

5
Social/Environmental Impact Risks Benefits
Potential Benefits These are some of the
potential benefits given in the GM Food argument,
but many are questionable and are they worth more
than all the risks associated?
  • A solution for World Hunger
  • Reduce of children at risk for
    Vitamin-A-deficiency-induced blindness
  • (ie. Golden Rice)
  • Increase crop yields significantly (ie. Herbicide
    tolerant/Insect Resistant crops)
  • Improvement in Nutritional Content (ie. Leaner
    meat, added vitamins/minerals)

6
Social/Environmental Impact Risks Benefits
Potential Benefits CONT.
  • A solution for World Hunger?
  • The world today produces more food per inhabitant
    than ever before. Enough food is available to
    provide 4.3 lbs. For every person every day 2.5
    lbs. Of grain, beans, and nuts about a lb. Of
    meat, milk, and eggs and another of fruits and
    vegetables
  • (F.M. Lappe, Collins, Rosset, Esparza,
    1998).
  • The real causes of hunger are poverty,
    inequality, and lack of land/resources (Altieri
    2001)
  • Reduce number of children at risk for
    Vitamin-A-deficiency-induced
  • blindness? (ie. Golden Rice)?
  • People do not exhibit Vitamin A deficiency
    because too little Vitamin A or beta carotene,
    but because their diet has been reduced to rice
    and almost nothing else (Altieri 2001)
  • Beta carotene is fat soluable, and its uptake by
    the intestine depends on fat or oil in the diet
    (Altieri 2001)


7
Social/Environmental Impact Risks Benefits
Potential Benefits CONT.
  • Increase crop yields significantly (ie. Herbicide
    tolerant Insect
  • Resistant crops)?
  • In 1997, yields were not significantly different
    in engineered versus non-engineered crops in 7
    out of 12 crop/region combinations
  • In 1998, yields were not significantly different
    in engineered versus non-engineered crops in 12
    out of 18 crop/region combinations
  • (Altieri 2001)
  • Improvement in Nutritional Content ?
  • It has been said that the opposite is true
    Transgenic foods may mislead consumers with
    counterfeit freshness. A luscious-looking, bright
    red genetically engineered tomato could be
    several weeks old and of little nutritional worth
    (Safe-food Organization 2003)



8
Social/Environmental Impact Risks Benefits
Potential Risks These are some of the potential
risks given in the GM Food argument. The large
of risks and the severity of these risks is
clear.
  • Environmental harm
  • Economic/Political
  • Health Safety
  • Personal/Axiological Impacts
  • Undefined Risks?

9
Social/Environmental Impact Risks Benefits
Potential Risks CONT.
  • Environmental Risks
  • -    Genetic contamination of the environment
  • Effects on Nontarget Species (ie. Monarch
    butterfly)
  • Irreversible disruption of the Earths biosphere
  • A Monoculture problem
  • Future need for even greater pesticide use
    (specifically applies to pesticide-resistant
    crops ie. Super Weeds)
  • Economic/Political Risks
  • Consolidation of control over food production
    (Monsantos terminator seed)
  • Threat to organic farmers
  • What does the lax regulation process imply for
    future technologies?


10
Social/Environmental Impact Risks Benefits
Potential Risks CONT.
  • Health Risks
  • Negative change in Nutritional Content
  • Allergenic potential
  • Possible Illness
  • Personal/Axiological Impacts
  • Personal appreciation/understanding (Will this
    change the way we think about food?)
  • Religious/Moral Issues
  • Lack of authority in our lives/individual choice

11
Social/Environmental Impact Risks Benefits
Undefined Risks? DNA is actually not well
understood. 97 of human DNA is called junk
because scientists do not know its function. The
workings of a single cell are so complex, no one
knows the whole of it. Yet the biotech companies
have already planted millions of acres with
genetically engineered crops, and they intend to
engineer every crop in the world. (San Diego
Union-Tribune 2000) The practice of engineering
has been known to be a highly respected
discipline that entails endless amount of
testing, calculations, and concern for human
safety. Isnt there a major error in labeling
this new technology genetically engineered?
12
Religion and GM foods
  • Possible religious conflicts
  • Unacceptable intervention in Gods creation
    violating barriers in natural world
  • Objections to consuming animal genes in plants
    and vice versa
  • Justice and equality exasperated by creating and
    increasing dependence on industrialized nations
    by developing countries

13
Western Religion
  • Protestants
  • God is the creator of the world, and further that
    God's creative work is ongoing.
  • The human race is created in God's image. In this
    context, the divine image in humanity is tied to
    creativity. God creates, so do we.
  • 'co-creators with God'
  • Is the view of the Protestants and other Western
    Religions similar?

http//online.sfsu.edu/rone/GEessays/gedanger.htm
14
Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology Zogby
International Poll
The poll, part of a nationwide survey of 1,117
adults 18 and older, was conducted by Zogby
International from July 16-20, 2001. The margin
of error is /- 5 percent for Protestants, /-
5.7 percent for Catholics, /- 7 percent for
Jewish, and /- 9 percent for the Muslims. The
poll was released as part of a panel discussion
hosted by the Initiative titled Genetically
Modifying Food Playing God or Doing Gods Work?
15
Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology Zogby
International Poll
The poll, part of a nationwide survey of 1,117
adults 18 and older, was conducted by Zogby
International from July 16-20, 2001. The margin
of error is /- 5 percent for Protestants, /-
5.7 percent for Catholics, /- 7 percent for
Jewish, and /- 9 percent for the Muslims. The
poll was released as part of a panel discussion
hosted by the Initiative titled Genetically
Modifying Food Playing God or Doing Gods Work?
16
Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology Zogby
International Poll
  • Conclusions of survey
  • In addition, most of those polled, regardless of
    religion, felt it is important to improve the
    world or strike a balance between improving and
    preserving it.
  • This survey shows that while Americans have
    concerns about moving genes between different
    species, they also support the idea that we have
    been empowered by God to understand nature and
    use science and technology to improve the human
    condition.

17
Eastern Religion
  • Buddhism
  • Ahimsa non-harming
  • Sentient life
  • objects or tools to be used without regard for
    their own wishes or aspirations
  • how it creates or alleviates suffering
  • Bodies, meditation and insight
  • genetic engineering affecting progress on the
    path to enlightenment
  • Cause for concern?

18
Eastern Religion
  • Confucianism
  • Li includes ritual, propriety, etiquette, etc.
  • Hsiao love within the family
  • Yi righteousness
  • Xin honesty and trustworthiness
  • Jen benevolence, humaneness towards others
  • Chung loyalty to the state
  • It is primarily an ethical system to which
    rituals at important times during ones lifetime
    have been added.

http//www.religioustolerance.org/confuciu.htm
19
Eastern Religion
  • Taoism
  • It is the force that flows through all life
  • Wu Wei
  • Let nature takes its course
  • Yin and Yang (Dark side and Light side)
  • Balance of life
  • Intervention by human civilization upsets the
    balances of Yin and Yang

http//www.religioustolerance.org/tao.htm
20
Problems with Religion as exclusive basis for
argument against GM technology
  • Each religion has right to decide attitude about
    GM technology. But…
  • What authority do individuals have to speak on
    behalf of religion?
  • Are there conflicting views with religion?
  • Is their sufficient tolerance for other
    traditions that approve of GM technology?
  • Should religion be a factor of GM technology when
    within religious faiths there are differing view
    points?

21
Addressing Ethics in GM Technology
  • Applied ethics
  • Empirical claims
  • Normative claims

Is it ethically justifiable to pursue GM crops
and foods? Should the law allow GM foods to be
grown and marketed?
22
Ethical objections to GM foods
  • What is possible harm?
  • Extrinsic objections anticipated results
  • Intrinsic objections process of making GMF is
    objectionable in and of itself
  • What information do we have?
  • What are the options?
  • What are possible ethical principles/theories
    that can guide us?

23
3 secular ethical considerations
  • Human rights principle
  • the rights of people in various countries to
    choose to adopt GM technology
  • Utilitarian consideration
  • the balance of likely benefits over harms to
    consumers and the environment from GM technology
  • Virtue theory
  • related to the wisdom of encouraging discovery,
    innovation, and careful regulation of GM
    technology

24
Human rights principle
  • The rights of people in various countries to
    choose to adopt GM technology
  • Safety Unknown effects
  • Human health impact
  • Environmental impact
  • Effects on other organisms

So can people make rational, informed decisions
if information is incomplete and ability to
access risk is limited?
25
Utilitarian consideration
The balance of likely benefits over harms to
consumers and the environment from GM technology
  • Purported benefits
  • Crops
  • Animals
  • Environment
  • Society
  • Economic determinism
  • Society
  • Access and Intellectual Property

26
Virtue theory
Related to the wisdom of encouraging discovery,
innovation, and careful regulation of GM
technology
  • Labeling
  • Resources and standards

How can you carefully regulate if resources and
standards vary among nation?
27
Traditional Farming Methods http//www.cnr.berkele
y.edu/christos/articles/traditional_ag.html
Ethnoecology is the study of the natural world
knowledge systems of indigenous ethnic rural
people. This knowledge has many dimensions,
including linguistics, botany, zoology, craft
skills, and agriculture, and is derived from the
direct interaction between humans and their
environment. As more research is conducted, many
of the traditional farming practices once
regarded as primitive or misguided, are being
recognized as sophisticated and
appropriate a.They combine high species numbers
and structural diversity in time and space (both
through vertical and horizontal organization of
crops). b.They exploit the full range of
microenvironments (which differ in soil, water,
temperature, altitude, slope, fertility, etc.)
within a field or region. c.They maintain closed
cycles of materials and wastes through effective
recycling practices. d.They rely on a complexity
of biological interdependencies, resulting in
some degree of biological pest suppression. e.They
rely on local resources plus human and animal
energy, thereby using low levels of input
technology. f.They rely on local varieties of
crops and incorporate the use of wild plants and
animals. Production is usually for local
consumption. The level of income is low thus,
the influence of noneconomic factors on decision
making is substantial.

28
Traditional Farming Methods
''I am a firm believer in evolution,'' White
says. ''I think plants have evolved in a certain
way. I think they're doing a fair job on their
own.' American monoculture farmers normally
plant one crop to a field in neat rows to allow
mechanized planting and harvesting. Herbicides,
pesticides and irrigation can be applied in a
one-size-fits-all way. Native American and other
traditional farmers aroun d the world intermingle
mutually beneficial crops in a practice known as
polyculture. White, an agriculture student at
Hampshire College, planted her three vegetables
on a quarter acre of college land in both
monoculture and polyculture configurations. Her
summer experiment is called the Three Sisters
project, a reference to Native Americ an
tradition that likens the three staple crops to
stories of the three sisters of the Earth. She
learned the techniques partly from her own people
and used the seeds of their ancient crop strains,
which were available through a Cornell University
progra m. Traditionally planted in circular
mounds instead of rows, the corn gives shade and
support to the beans, which grow up the corn
stalks like a vine. In the soil, the beans
transform nitrogen into a form that the corn can
use. The squash acts as ground cov er, keeping
down weeds. ''They're helping each other out,''
White said. ''You're working with nature -- and
not against it.'' http//www.dominionpost.com/a/
campus/2000/09/10/b/
29
Possible Alternatives - Organic
  • Organic Products
  • organic products are grown or raised without the
    use of chemicals
  • livestock that is raised with organically grown
    feed and without antibiotics and growth-inducing
    hormones
  • Labeling
  • 100 percent organic All ingredients meet or
    exceed USDA standards
  • Organic At least 95 percent of the ingredients
    meet USDA standards
  • Made with Organic Ingredients At least 75
    percent of the ingredients meet USDA approval

30
Possible Alternative-Permaculture
Permaculture principles focus on
thoughtful designs for small-scale intensive
systems which are labor efficient and which use
biological resources instead of fossil fuels.
Designs stress ecological connections and closed
energy and material loops. The core of
permaculture is design and the working
relationships and connections between all things.
Each component in a system performs multiple
functions, and each function is supported by many
elements. Key to efficient design is observation
and replication of natural ecosystems, where
designers maximize diversity with polycultures,
stress efficient energy planning for houses and
settlement, using and accelerating natural plant
succession, and increasing the highly productive
"edge-zones" within the system.
31
Possible Alternative-Permaculture
  • Characteristics of Permaculture 
  • Permaculture is one of the most holistic,
    integrated systems analysis and design
    methodologies found in the world.
  • Permaculture can be applied to create productive
    ecosystems from the human- use standpoint or to
    help degraded ecosystems recover health and
    wildness. Permaculture can be applied in any
    ecosystem, no matter how degraded.
  • Permaculture values and validates traditional
    knowledge and experience. Permaculture
    incorporates sustainable agriculture practices
    and land management techniques and strategies
    from around the world. Permaculture is a bridge
    between traditional cultures and emergent
    earth-tuned cultures.
  • Permaculture promotes organic agriculture which
    does not use pesticides to pollute the
    environment.
  • Permaculture aims to maximize symbiotic and
    synergistic relationships between site
    components.
  • Permaculture is urban planning as well as rural
    land design.
  • Permaculture design is site specific, client
    specific, and culture specific.
  • http//attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/perma.htmlintro

32
Possible Alternative - Biodynamic
  • Biodynamic Products
  • Emphasizes ecological harmony and environmental
    sustainability.
  • Biodynamic food is grown with particular
    composts, preparations and natural activating
    substances.

33
Final Questions
  • Is it ethically justifiable to pursue GM crops
    and food?
  • Should the law allow GM foods to be grown and
    marketed?

34
GMF Conclusions and Thoughts Paul Romeo II
  • Currently, GM technology is not an ethically
    justifiable pursuit
  • This is based on
  • The approach of corporations and various
    governments towards uncovering the effects of GM
    technology uncertainty and risks far outweigh
    benefits both ecological and humanitarian.
  • The process and lack of knowledge provided
    towards the public the ability to choose and
    adopt the technology.
  • The pursuit of wealth by companies like Monsanto,
    who develop such products as terminator seeds
    that will be sold for single harvests thus
    forcing farmers and third world countries to rely
    on Monsanto for seeds.

The growth and marketing of GMF is justifiable if
choice is offered to the public (i.e.. labeling)
and if the nominal risks are considered and
expressed.
35
Conclusion
  • Is it ethically justifiable to pursue GM crops
    and foods?
  • Should the law allow GM foods to be grown and
    marketed? G.Comstock, Univ. of Iowa, 6/2001
  • (My opinion J.Gurdock)
  • Yes, GM technology can be ethically sound if
  • 1) Uniform international regulation of the
    technology is implemented immediately.
  • 2) Citizens are informed (via consistent
    labeling) and choose (through government or
    purchasing choices) to adopt the technology.
  • 3) the likely benefits exceed the potential harm
    to the total ecology.
  • However, the current approach to the GM
    technology is not ethically sound because the
    above conditions (which represent various ethical
    considerations) are not part of the approach to
    the technology, and scientist have not mandated
    controlled experiments prior to implementation.

36
My Ethical Perspective Stephanie Vargas
  • My own ethical perspective is
  • I do not believe that the current usage of
    Genetically Modified Foods in the public is
    appropriate ethically
  • I have based this perspective on
  • The lack of falsely-claimed benefits (ie. Solving
    world hunger, cure for blindness)
  • The great severity of risks (ie. Decline of
    biodiversity, uncertainty, permanent/irreversible
    impact)
  • And because of the great uncertainty and lack of
    knowledge about how the genetic process works
    in its natural state.
  • I see that the risks outweigh the supposed
    benefits by far and the only reason it seems
    anyone would be pursuing this is solely for
    profits

37
References Stephanie Vargas
  • Diver, Steve. http//attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/perm
    a.htmlintro. Introduction to Permaculture.
    August 2002.
  • Donn, Jeff. http//www.dominionpost.com/a/campus/
    2000/09/10/b/. September 2000.
  • Altieri, Miguel A. http//www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ch
    ristos/articles/traditional_ag.html. Traditional
    Agriculture.
  • Winston, Mark L. Travels in the Genetically
    Modified Zone. Cambridge and London Harvard
    University Press. 2002.
  • Pence, Gregory E. Designer Food Mutant Harvest
    or Breadbasket of the World?. New York and
    Oxford Rowman and Littlefield Publisgers, Inc.
    2002.
  • Miller, Norman. Environmental Politics Casebook-
    Genetically Modified Foods. NewYork and London
    Lewis Publishers. 2002.
  • Thompson, Paul B. Food Biotechnology in Ethical
    Perspective. New York, Toyko, and london
    Blackie Academic Professional. 1997.
  • Markwaha, S.S. and Arora, J.K. Food Processing
    Biotechnological Applications. New Delhi
    Asiatech Publishers, Inc. 2000.
  • Menrad, Klausand Terragni, Fabio. Future Impacts
    of Biotechnology on Agriculture. New York
    Springer-Verlag Company. 1999.
  • McHughen, Alan. Pandoras Picnic Basket The
    Potential Hazards of Genetically Modifed Foods.
    Oxford and New York Oxford University Press.
    2000
  • Valpuesta, Victoriano. Fruit and Vegetable
    Biotechnology. Cambridge Woodhead Publishing
    Limited. 2002.
  • Other information from references in text and
    discussion were from our class reader

38
References
  • Diver, Steve. http//attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/perm
    a.htmlintro. Introduction to Permaculture.
    August 2002.
  • Donn, Jeff. http//www.dominionpost.com/a/campus/
    2000/09/10/b/. September 2000.
  • Altieri, Miguel A. http//www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ch
    ristos/articles/traditional_ag.html. Traditional
    Agriculture.
  • Kneen, Brewster. Farmageddon Food and the
    Culture of Biotechnology. New Society Publishers,
    British Columbia, Canada. 1999.
  • Shiva, Vandana. Biopiracy The Plunder of Nature
    and Knowledge. South End Press, Boston MA. 1997.
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