• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What are the possible environmental risks of Genetically Modified Crops? Is it morally permissible to proceed with a potentially harmful course of action if you are unsure of the consequences?

Extracts from this document...


What are the possible environmental risks of Genetically Modified Crops? Is it morally permissible to proceed with a potentially harmful course of action if you are unsure of the consequences? There is much concern about GM foods, some of which are being tested, others that are already used as ingredients in the food we eat. GM stands for genetically modified and this is the process by which scientists are able to pinpoint a gene which produces a desired outcome, extract it, copy it and insert it into another organism. Some see genetic engineering opening up great opportunities in agriculture, food and medicine. For others it is a threat to something very basic about our lives and the natural world. It is unnatural, harmful and unethical and immoral. Some would say that we have been involved in genetic modification for centuries e.g. seeds from cereals and other crops that were hardier and grew better were selected for planting the following year to produce better yield. With GM organisms however the modifications that occur are ones that couldn't possibly occur in nature e.g. adding genes from a virus to a plant to allow it to become virus resistant. Supporters of GM see the benefits as follows. Currently 25% of world food crops are lost through insect attack every year; that is enough to feed one billion people. ...read more.


Supporters of GM foods say that 'crops will be specially adapted to the diverse farming conditions and practices and offer a higher nutritional value and income.'7 The NCB position is that it would be 'immoral of us to stop using GM' 8 however opponents think that GM products could reduce the developed countries reliance on crops from the developing countries. This could result in trade and economic damage. Others doubt whether developing countries will actually receive the benefits. In 20 African countries they have published a statement that claims gene technology will not help their farmers but will 'destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and agriculture systems...and undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.' 9 Some new crops being developed by biotech companies have a 'terminator' gene built in to prevent the farmer from keeping the seeds produced for the following year. This could lead to complete dependence on biotech companies which is a serious concern for farmers in poorer countries who couldn't afford to buy the seeds every year. A further concern is that wide use of gene technology will reduce the diversity of crop species grown and so reduce the 'gene pool.' This gene pool has already been reduced by modern farming techniques and it is feared that the availability of GM crops will increase the problem. Most people think that we should not tamper with nature as they are concerned about the transfer of genes from animal to human origin or visa versa. ...read more.


But the research for the Consumers' Association 2 shows that consumers do have anxieties that go beyond these narrow considerations, e.g. some have objections to the patenting of life forms, others fear that biotech companies will dominate the worlds food supplies - a view supported by the Rural Advancement Foundation International, which is concerned that the world's genetic resources will become concentrated in the hands of a few companies. Already a third of the worlds seed market is controlled by ten leading companies 3 We simply do not know enough about consequences for human, animal and plant life throughout the world of planting GM crops at the moment. More testing needs to be carried out preferably by independent research bodies rather than biotech companies, before GM organisms are released into the world. GM foods are not necessarily bad, but allowing GM crop planting without proper knowledge of the effects both long and short term is unwise and dangerous. Once biotech companies are sure that their products will have no undue effects on biodiversity, food chains and people's health, GM crops should be permitted, but until then they shouldn't be allowed. We must use the benefits of GM but proceed with great caution. 1 + 2: Food for our future - GM modification and food (an information pack produced by the Food Commission) 3: Nuffield Council on Bioethics: www.nuffieldbioethics.org 4: 5: 6: GM Foods: Pros and Cons, An SRT Information Sheet. www.srtp.org.uk 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: A quote from his speech at the Balfour lecture 1996. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Variation and Inheritance section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Variation and Inheritance essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Evaluating the risks and benefits of GM crops.

    4 star(s)

    into the plants material, causing the plant to produce harmful tumours. Geneticists have found they can withdraw from the bacteria, the tumour-inducing T-DNA and replace them with genes providing useful characteristics. When the infection plant cells are exposed to these modified bacteria, they transfer the useful genes to the plant

  2. Peer reviewed

    Cloning pros and cons

    5 star(s)

    A sexual relationship would of course be with his wife's twin, no incest involved technically. You will not find a child psychiatrist in the world who could possibly say that there will not be very significant emotional risk to the cloned child as a result of these pressures.

  1. Peer reviewed

    Genetically modified crops - Do we know all the answers?

    5 star(s)

    sequence, alters the entire chemical composition of the chain, not just modifying one gene as Dr Farley states.

  2. Peer reviewed

    The potential benefits and risks of genetically modifying food.

    4 star(s)

    However there is a concern that when released into the ecosystem, GM plants could contaminate non GM plants with modified genes, this could lead to mutations, and some plants with undesirable features, that were intended for GM food, i.e. herbicide resistant weeds, or flowers that rely on insect fertilization containing pesticides.

  1. Genetics Research

    PHENOTYPE Black Fur Grey Fur White Fur where B = allele for black & W = allele for white Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Sex linked traits-Somatic(nonsexual) traits that are controlled by genes found on sex chromosomes. Autosomes-Chromosomes that control somatic(nonsexual)

  2. Food Policy at a Crossroads, A World of Plenty or a World of Famine ...

    And with the vast countries like Indonesia about to join the GM club, next year's leap could be bigger still".5 Meaning, two thirds of all U.S processed foods have GM ingredients and 70-80 million acres of land is growing GM crops.

  1. The Concerns and Disadvantages of Genetically Modified Crops

    Genetic engineering is an unpredictable and imprecise process. By inserting 'alien' genes from organisms which have never been eaten as food, new proteins are introduced into the animal and human food chains. There is concern that these could cause allergic reactions or other negative health effects.

  2. Selective Breeding

    The advantages of breeding the layer chicken is that it uses its energy to create more eggs and lay them. * He could breed the meat chicken and layer chicken as they would give much bigger chickens and because they are layer chickens they will give lots of eggs thus they will lay much bigger eggs.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work