The Moral acceptability of genetically modified foods (gmo’s)
Gichuru, Virginia Gathoni
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There is belief that the use of biotechnologies in combination with conventional plant breeding, can contribute to the food security of Africa. Some of these potential benefits of genetically modified biotech crops include tolerance to salinity, resistance to pests, and enhanced nutritional value. Nutritionally enhanced crops are important in developing countries to fight malnutrition and its related diseases. On the other hand the advent of biotech crops has been met with skepticism by different sectors of the public. People want to know whether these crops are safe, cheaper and more nutritious. However, informed decisions about their use have been left to individual countries. In Kenya, Genetically modified maize has been imported into the country to meet the current shortfall in the maize crop. This has been met with public outcry. The purpose of this study was to examine the moral acceptability of genetically modified foods using the Aristotelian understanding of Ethics. This is method looks at the elements involved in any free human act and analyses the object, intention and circumstances surrounding such an act. In the case of genetic modification this is to ascertain whether such an action enhance the nature of man and his common good. The approach used was to make use of secondary data source in order to understand the ethicalness of modifying GM foods based on Aristotelian Ethics Results were analysed based on different scenarios labeled A-H. The moral object analysed in all the scenarios were the GM foods inserted with genes from plants,animals,bacteria or viruses so as to confer advantages to the modified crops such as drought, disease and pest resistance. The intentions were varied. For instance the intention of scientists would be to engineer food crops so as to acquire food security. This can be a morally good action since it enhances the human dignity. The circumstances surrounding such an action could be that some of these genes might be harmful to human beings and the environment because most times these genes are coming from non plants. The moral value of such an action is bad because it will affect human health negatively and hence go against the human nature. The implications of this study indicate that the human aspect in Gm foods must be taken into consideration because it is the human person who adds to any aspect the ethical or moral dimension. Also Universities like Strathmore University, which has a strong background in Ethics should team up with other research institutes engaged in the production of GM products and ensure that these products are not only economically and technologically sound but also morally sound.