THE ETHICAL ISSUES THAT ARISE FROM THE PRODUCTION OF GMOs. &THE EFFECTS ON THE ECONOMIES OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
What is bioengineering: Agricultural and biological engineering are evolving fields that integrate the principles of biological sciences and genetic engineering and use them to create, improve or modify plants, seeds and microorganisms. The innovation of this kind of technology, which is becoming the most debatable issue in agriculture of the last years, belongs to large food and pharmaceutical companies.
The problem for the developing countries: The food companies, the governments of the countries that are related to these companies and some farmers, claim that GM seeds increase the production and stability of the crops, raise the income of the farmers and contribute a lot to reduce of poverty and increase of prosperity of the developing countries.
The increase of production and stability of the crops are due to the tolerance of GMOs to difficult weather conditions and to their resistance to pests. • Food industry also claims that GMOs are testing very scholastically and there are no reasons for fear of the effects on human’s health.
On the other hand, the opponents of the GMOs, that are consisted of environmentalists, the poor farmers, NGOs and the governments of some countries declare that the problem of the poverty in developing countries is not due to inadequate production of crops but due to the unequal distribution of economic and natural resources. • Governments of some developing countries claim that the cultivation of GMOs will pose in threat the already sensitive economies of these countries as the poor farmers cannot afford buying the modified seeds.
Many international agreements require that each country which cultivates GM crops is responsible to implement administrative and technical measures in order to reduce the potential risks for the environment. However, monitoring and testing of the seeds have a great cost that most of the developing countries cannot bear. • Furthermore, many scientists express their concerns about genetic modified foods and their consequences on people’s health and on the environment particularly in the developing countries where an outbreak of any disease or any allergic reaction in population cannot be controlled easily due to their poor health care systems.
Ethical aspects The supporters of GMOs technology believe: • that these products ensure food security in the world and may reduce the problem of hunger especially in the countries which face the threat of overpopulation. • GMOs protect the yields of the crops and consequently the income of the farmers • GMOs protect the environment from the pesticides and other dangerous chemicals.
The supporters of GMOs also believe that: • developing countries have the right to follow the technological progress of the developed countries and GMOs technology helps towards this direction. • Moreover, GMOs producers believe that moving genes around is just a technical issue with no moral implications-a view known as “reductionist” ideology of biotech. Reductionism maintains that genes are independent entities and human beings can intervene to them as natural order and individual traits are not unique.
The opponents of GMOs believe: • that biotech does not solve the food problem worldwide as it condemns in poverty many farmers in developing countries and poses in danger the crops and the environment as it restricts biodiversity. • Poor countries believe that the support of the small farmers and the investments in the rural communities are the essential components of social justice and the basis for the development of the local economies.
People in developing countries also claim that the provision of GM food in poor countries disorientates the policymakers from the solutions of the structural causes that provoke poverty and its consequences. • Moreover, a non-reductionist world view claims that genes of each organism have specific properties, interactions and role in nature and that human beings have not the right to intervene in order to change this sequence.
Personal opinion I believe that the implementation of the biotech in agriculture may have an informational role rather than an engineering one. The evolution of the technology which led scientists to study and map the genetic code of agricultural plants can be used to enhance traditional breeding or improve our understanding of how plants grow, how they react to the various weather conditions, droughts, floods, and diseases. The understanding of the genetic code could help scientists to improve the organic agricultural methods which I believe that constitute the real solution for the food production and the environmental balance.
The growing costs and the controversial views about the GMOs’s effects on the economies of the developing countries and on the environment should make farmers, scientists, politicians and consumers all over the world to look for a different model of agricultural production which I believe that it should be the agroecological model. This model suggests organic cultivations and needs investments for infrastructure in agriculture, technical support of the farmers and the preservation of the biodiversity.
The above factors may enforce the crops and strengthen the local economies of developing countries without creating dependences on the food companies and posing threats for the local ecosystems and people’s health.