Issues Concerning the Genetically Modified Crops

Ethical Issues Concerning the Genetically Modified Crops


Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Issues Concerning the Genetically Modified Crops
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

The new technology which is often termed as ‘Genetic engineering’ or ‘Genetic modification’ has promised the world to provide with great revolutions in the field of medicine, husbandry and agriculture. The positive point associated with the utilization f genetic engineering in the production of plants is that with the help of this technology different nations would be able to produce food that is sufficient enough to reduce the mass hunger that prevails in the world. (Ryan 6-17)


The integration of genetic engineering in the production of crops is confronted with a number of controversies in different nations of the world. The process of genetic modification of crops includes the transfer of DNA from a plant, bacteria or even an animal to various kinds or species of plant. Due to the advancements in technology, the scientists are now able to identify the characteristics of various genes and hence it is easy for them to transfer the available genes into the plant, which they want to modify. (“Genetically modified crops: the ethical and social issues” 2-4)


History of Genetic Modification


Even though, Genetic modification of the plants is a recently developed technique but mankind has been using various techniques to develop some favorable characteristics in the crops that they grow since a very long period of time. Since the inception of agriculture the farmers have been using the techniques of selection and cross breeding with the objective of improving the quality of their plants. In the year 1492, corn, which was native to Americans, was introduced in the rest of the world by Christopher Columbus. This plant was adapted by the European farmers and they modified it so that its production may align with the agricultural and growing conditions of Europe. (Payne and Peters 5-8)


In the era of 1800s, Gegor Mendel, who was an Austrian botanist and plant scientist, did a successful experiment of cross breeding the traits of Pea, such as color height and size of pea. He observed that these changes were attributable to the passing of genes from one plant to another. The similar findings were re-discovered by a batch of European scientists and their discoveries and research was independent of the discovery of Mendel. (Payne and Peters 5-8)


In the beginning of the twentieth century, seeds with more productivity and high yield were developed through hybridization by Henry Wallace, who was an agricultural expert. Hybridization is the process of combining the genes of two or more plants to develop a new plant and this processor is regarded as the direct predecessor of the field of Genetic Modification. (Payne and Peters 5-8)


The foundation or basis for the development of Biotechnology was laid down by the discovery of DNA in the year 1953. The first achievement in the field of biotechnology occurred in the year 1973, when the genetic material from the DNA of one organism was lifted and it was then copied to the DNA of another organism by Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer, who were both researchers. The genetically modified crops began gaining popularity in the era of 1990s as the scientists consistently demonstrated the benefits that were associated with the production of these crops. The first genetically modified crop was authorized for production and consumption by the Food and Drug Administration in the middle of 1990s and after a little period of time eighteen other genetically modified crops was approved for production and consumption. (Payne and Peters 5-8)


Although, in the present time, the genetic modification of the crops is considered common but there a number of negative impacts that this technique may incur. The fear of these impacts has persuaded a number of countries to put a ban on the production and consumption of the genetically modified crops. The people who support these bans provide two common reasons for their support which are; the environmental hazards associated with the production of genetically modified crops and the health and safety hazards associated with consumption of these crops. (Payne and Peters 5-8)


Ethical Issues Associated With the Production and Consumption of Genetically Modified Crops


Agriculture is regarded as the first sector that made heavy investments in the field of bio technology. A large number of experiments were done in agricultural biotechnology with the help of which a large variety of crops were introduced in different regions of the world. The unique characteristic of these crops was that they contained genes that were obtained from sources that did not belong to their specie. (Krimsky 11-26)


The scientists, in recent years, have been confronted with a number of issues regarding the use of Genetic modification of crops as these crops can have adverse effect on ecological system, bio diversity, seed markets etcetera. The major ethical issues related to use of genetic modification in the production and consumption of crops are listed below; (Krimsky 11-26)


Human Health Hazards Associated with the Consumption of the Genetically Modified Crops


Although, great excitement prevails among the people regarding the potential benefits that are associated with the use of genetic modification in the production of crops, there are a lot of facts regarding the genetic modification of plants and the potential threats that might occur as a result of the utilization of this technique that the general public does not know. As the sufficient information is not provided publically regarding the content and the effects of the genetically modified food, the probability of inactivation of the natural nutrients that are present in the food through genetic modification and the allergens that might be introduced in the human body because of the consumption of genetically modified food. (Marx 3-5)


One of the major ethical issues related with the free usage of genetic modification in the production of the crops is the potential and unknown health hazards that are associated with the genetically modified crops and which the consumer has to confront after he or she consumes such food. The consumers, while purchasing the food, are of the view point that whatever they are buying is safe and healthy but they are unaware of the fact that it might contain toxic compounds or hazardous allergens. The people are not fully ever of the health hazards associated with the genetically modified crops as almost all the companies do not openly advertise the transgenic compounds that are being utilized by them. So most of the time people buy genetically modified food without even knowing the potential threats associated with the chemically treated crops, which are being produced with the help of genetic modification. (Bhuiya 60-64)


In addition to that, most of the organizations advertise that the transgenic compounds are good for health because they increase the nutritional content of the food; genetic modification may leads toward the inactivation of a number of nutrients that are present in the crops that are grown in a conventional manner. According to a recent research, the genetically modified soybeans have lower levels of isoflavone (which are one of the important aforementioned phytoestrogens), which naturally occurs in the soybean and has the ability to protect women from cancer, when compared with the levels of isoflavone in the conventionally grown soybeans. (Marx 3-5)


The use of genetic modification leads toward an increase in the ability of plants to produce amino acid but the shift in the levels of amino acid lead towards some irregularities in the metabolic activities of the plants. These irregularities, in return, negatively impact the ability of plant to produce aforementioned phytoestrogens and hence alter their levels in the plant. This condition is quite evident in the soybeans, even though, the data related to the chemical residue comes under the tolerance limits, which are being imposed by the Environmental protection Agency (EPA). (Marx 3-5)


Apart from the above mentioned facts, the genetically modified crops are regarded as inappropriate and hazardous for human health because of the increase in the number of cases of allergenicity that occurred as the result of consumption of genetically modified crops. An example of the relationship between the genetic modification of the plants and the introduction of allergens in the human body is the incorporation of the Bt protein in the genetically modified maize as this protein has evident properties that are generally associated with allergenic proteins. This is just a single example of how the genetically modified crops introduce allergens in the human body but there a number of similar cases which prevail throughout the cases. Moreover, as the research regarding the relationship between the genetic modification of the plants and the introduction of allergens in the human body is still in the beginning stage, therefore, we can expect that a lot more information regarding this association is still to be studied and portrayed. (Bhuiya 60-64)


Genetic Pollution


The production of the genetically modified crops also poses a unique threat of genetic pollution to the environment. The basic threat, which is already being evidenced, that the genetically modified organisms will spread in the soil and among a variety of animal and plant life and this will trigger various irreversible genetic combinations. For example, the plants produced through genetic modification can pollinate with the conventionally produced plants and can make them genetically modified as well. (Kaplan 1-15)


In addition to that, the genetically modified crops that were developed with a strong ability to resist herbicides, so that a large amount of strong weed killers can be used of them, have enabled the weeds to develop strong resistance against the herbicides and hence these genetically modified crops have led towards the production of ‘super weeds’ which are very difficult to control. There is a high probability that the genetically modified plants will lead towards the development of the ‘super viruses’ as the genes from the plants, which are designed to resist strong viruses, travel to other plants. (Kaplan 1-15)


Exclusion of People from the Experiment


If we keep aside the above discussed threats, another issue that confronts the genetic modification of plant is that, ‘Do the people have the right to exclude themselves from the experiment?’ Previously when any new technology, drug or medicine was introduced in any region the people had a right to be the users of the product or to avoid the usage of the product. Similarly in the case of the consumption of the genetically modified crops the people have a right to be the users or the non-users of the product. They shall be made very well aware of the content of the food that they are eating and the health uncertainties that are associated with that food. (Krimsky 11-26)


According to the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration, it is necessary for all the organizations to label their food and list all the relevant factors regarding their product on the label. According to a survey, people believed that labeling made the food more reliable for them. But in the case of the genetically modified food, labeling is not mandatory and hence people are not aware of the contents of the food that they are purchasing. This lack of labeling also makes it impossible for the people to analyze the immediate and long-term effects of the food and hence deprive people of their right to choose. (Krimsky 11-26)


Without the labeling of the genetically modified food the consumers are being deprived of their right to disentangle themselves from the experiment of the genetically modified food. All that the people can do is to opt for the organically produced food which is said to be ninety nine percent free of genetic modification. From the ethical point-of-view, consumers around the globe are deprived of their right to purchase. Only the consumers who have an access to organically produced food can enjoy food that is free from genetic modification. (Krimsky 11-26)


Religious and Dietary Ethical Concerns


The society in which we live has a number of religious and cultural concerns in relation to food. Some Jewish groups have a tradition of not mixing two food items in the same meal such as, milk and meat products, whereas, other groups have taboos regarding some food products, such as pork or shellfish. Hindus, on the other hand, do not eat meat and Vegans also do not eat meat, egg or fish. Another issue related to the genetic modification is that is it appropriate, from the religious and cultural point-of-view, for the people to eat things that they are prohibited to eat. (Krimsky 11-26)


The advocates of the genetic modification of food argue that if the genes of a prohibited specie is transferred into a plant then it does not matter a lot as eating the genes of the animal is not similar to eating the animal or specie itself. But the religious and ethical advocates reject this point-of-view. By amalgamating the genes of prohibited species in the food, the scientists violate the ethical and religious beliefs of the people. This issue gets graver when the people are not made aware of what they are eating. For instance, is it eligible for a Hindu to eat the genes of a cow or not, is a question that shall be answered by the person himself or the scholars of the respective religion and not the advocates of genetic modification. (Krimsky 11-26)


People’s Perception about the Ethical Concerns Related to the Production of The Genetically Modified Crops


According to a survey conducted by Kitzinger and Davison, stated that people think that by producing genetically modifies crops the scientists are messing with nature or are playing with God. The technique of transferring the gene from some specie to another was regarded as unpredictable or unnatural by the people. People were also concerned about the health hazards that are associated with the consumption of the genetically modified food but they showed wore concern about the massive environmental hazards that can result from the genetic modification of crops. (Kitzinger and Davison 6-32)




Genetically modified crops are considered as great inventions by the advocates of science and technology but this technology is confronted with a number of ethical issues. Proper regulations and policies shall, therefore, be designed to address these issues and to make genetically modified food safe for the environment and the human health.


Works cited


Bhuiya, Shayla. “Ethical Concerns in Development, Research and Consumption of Genetically Engineered Crops.” Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy, 3. (2013): 60-64. & lt;>.


Kaplan, David. What’s Wrong with Genetically Modified Food?. Brooklyn: Polytechnic University, 2004. 1-15. Retrieved from’s%20Wrong%20With%20Genetically%20Modified%20Food.pdf


Kitzinger, Jenny and Charlie Davison. Public perceptions of social and ethical issues around genetically modified foods: a focus group study. Cardiff: Cardiff University, 2001. 6-32. Retrieved from


Krimsky, Sheldon. Ethical Issues Involving Production, Planting and Distribution of Genetically Modified Crops. Medford: Tufts University, 2000. 11-26. Retrieved from


Marx, Miriam. “The Benefits and Ethical Issues behind Using Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture.” The Interdisciplinary journal of Health, Ethics, and policy, 6. (2007): 3-5. & lt;>.


Payne, David and Luke Peters. Ethics of Genetically Modified Crop Bans. Boulder: Leeds School of Business, 2007. 5-8. Retrieved from


Ryan, Alan. Genetically modified crops: the ethical and social issues. London: Nuf-eld Council on Bioethics, 1999. 6-17. Retrieved from


Unknown. Genetically modified crops: the ethical and social issues. Tokyo: National Research Institute for Child Health and Development, 2008. 2-4. Retrieved from

How to place an order?

Take a few steps to place an order on our site:

  • Fill out the form and state the deadline.
  • Calculate the price of your order and pay for it with your credit card.
  • When the order is placed, we select a suitable writer to complete it based on your requirements.
  • Stay in contact with the writer and discuss vital details of research.
  • Download a preview of the research paper. Satisfied with the outcome? Press “Approve.”

Feel secure when using our service

It's important for every customer to feel safe. Thus, at University Study, we take care of your security.

Financial security You can safely pay for your order using secure payment systems.
Personal security Any personal information about our customers is private. No other person can get access to it.
Academic security To deliver no-plagiarism samples, we use a specially-designed software to check every finished paper.
Web security This website is protected from illegal breaks. We constantly update our privacy management.

Get assistance with placing your order. Clarify any questions about our services. Contact our support team. They are available 24\7.

Still thinking about where to hire experienced authors and how to boost your grades? Place your order on our website and get help with any paper you need. We’ll meet your expectations.

Order now Get a quote

error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Need assignment help? You can contact our live agent via WhatsApp using +1 718 717 2861

Feel free to ask questions, clarifications, or discounts available when placing an order.

Order your essay today and save 30% with the discount code STUDY