This is my third round of research for this cycle and this week I will be focusing on the ethical advantages to using GMOs. Last week, I researched some well-known points for and against the use of GMOs and will be relating some of those points in this round as well as bringing up some new ones.
My inquiry question is: What role do ethics play in the production of GMOs?
Added nutrients in foods: One of the most beneficial aspects of being able to modify the genetics of organisms is that there is potential to add vitamins and nutrients into a food, enhancing its nutritional value. (1) For example, in Asia, where rice is a staple, there are an estimated quarter of a million people that go blind every year, one of the main factors being Vitamin A deficiency. Geneticists can modify rice so that it produces beta carotene, a source of Vitamin A. (2)(3) One bowl of the GMO rice provides 60% of a child's daily Vitamin A intake. This is but one example of how the utilization of GMOs could have extremely advantageous outcomes.
Increased food production in developing countries:With many GM crops being drought-tolerant, insect-resistant, etc. it makes production of these crops easier, especially in developing countries where there is more poverty and famine. (1)(4) If we assume that GMOs are completely safe (which is plausible) and that the added nutrients could be of use, it makes a lot of sense to be focusing production of these foods in third-world countries. (4) And, even with side effects, it depends on our values: would it be morally correct to produce GM crops (that are potentially unsafe) and risk the consequences, but in the process, feeding developing countries and improving their situations?
Increased productivity overall:From 1996 to 2011, GM crops are estimated to have contributed to an additional global production of 195 million tons of maize, 110.2 million tons of soybeans, 15.85 million tons of cotton and 6.55 million tons of canola. GM crops have contributed to higher yields, e.g., 30 percent more in some farming areas. Local farmers are able to provide a lot of additional crops, which is benefical because over the next 40 years, the population will grow by an estimated 38% to 9.7 million. (5)(6)
That's all for this round! Next week, I'll be focusing on the negative side of GMOs. Please leave comments/feedback below!