Monday, September 29, 2008

Genetic Ethics

Some weeks ago, there was the Slow Food Movement in San Francisco, which protested the health aspects of genetically modified foods, which are indeed controversial. However, even more controversial are the ethical issues surrounding the morality of genetic engineering. Here in this article, I will argue that genetic engineering is indeed moral.

Perhaps the most commonly held objection to genetic engineering is that “we are playing God” and “tampering with things best left to nature”. This objection raises the philosophical and theological question about man’s role in the environment. However, it does not hold up considering the nature of nature and humanity today. I believe man should do no harm to others in the environment. Thus, man has the privilege of influence over other species as long as they do not significantly harm them. The nature of genetic engineering is not malicious; rather, it is benevolent to individual species. For example, man might change the genetic makeup of a native plant to make it more resistant to harsh weather caused by global warming. Such genetic engineering will let the plant survive and feed those who survive off it.

Now that we have punched holes in what makes genetic engineering immoral, a sound argument detailing why it is moral is needed. Now, as morality entails the happiness of others and yourself, genetic engineering is a moral thing to do because it benefits people as well as the organisms of an ecosystem. Usually, humans genetically engineer organisms to survive in harsher environments for the benefit of themselves. This use of genetic modification is moral because it benefits all parties involved. It benefits the plant because it will continue to live in the environment that global warming will create. Those who consume that plant will benefit because that species will continue to exist for them to continue their own existence. Thus, should natural evolution become too slow to support ecosystems in the future, evolution induced by man might be a reasonable alternative.

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