Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods by Comstock – Article Example

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The paper "Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods by Comstock" is a wonderful example of an article on social science. The ongoing debate of whether or not to adopt genetically modified food has taken hold of most discussions between different interest groups including scientists, consumer advocates, and consumers themselves. The foods are made from foreign genes that are inserted into other plants to boost their yields. Nonetheless, some of the consumer advocates have taken ethical grounds and stood firm in their opposition to such foods. Comstock states that in delving deeper into the ideologies of the consumer advocates, applied ethics come into play to determine the soundness of their arguments (Comstock, 2010, p. 484).

Before Comstock plates his questions, he recounts that ethically reasonable conclusion must rest either on empirical or normative claims. Based on the understanding of the frameworks upon which ethics operates, it is justifiable to look at the hypothetical questions that span the debate on genetically modified crops and foods. The first question that Comstock expresses is whether it is ethically justifiable to produce genetically modified foods and crops (Comstock, 2010, p. 484).

In answering this, it is pertinent that epistemic humility is adopted to take into account the claim by different ethicists that the response to the question is wide open. The second fundamental issue that has much propensity towards the concept is whether or not there are legal ramifications for GM foods to be grown and marketed at the same time. Once again, the answer to the question rests with the consumers who by nature are citizens who have the power to vote and shop in the markets in making their decision to the answer (Comstock, 2010, p. 484).

The responses to the questions are best answered by using reasoning, feelings, conscience, and intuitions. However, since scientists are no experts or scientists, they have to rest their factual understanding of the opinions of the scientists. Therefore, the answers lie with the ethical responsibility of the scientists who engage GM technology into real-world systems (Comstock, 2010, p. 484). Even so, scientist’ s moral responsibility is founded on two major values: epistemological and personal values. Therefore, even as the debates take a harder twist, the public trust in the scientists based on the two values should not be lost as they are bound to act as good stewards of the public trust accorded to them by the layman citizens. There is a framework that can be used to settle the ethical objections being raised on the potentiality of GM foods and crops to harm living things and persons alike.

However, in this case, the harm might or might not be justified by overlooking the benefits alone. Instead, a series of questions have to be answered systematically in the quest to address the concerns of ethicists (485).

The first questions concern the harm that is envisaged that is best answered through a critical evaluation of the level of severity of the harm in question. Furthermore, the stakeholders that are at risk and the extent of the harm should also be examined. Still yet, the justice, as well as fairness of the potential recipients of the harm, must be assessed to determine whether the subjects of the harms are likely to suffer the same as the beneficiaries of such actions (Comstock, 2010, p. 484).

The second major question is about the information that is available. To make sound and justifiable ethical judgments it is critical to have a deeper understanding of the scientific facts. The core concerns here are whether the harm is being presented reliably, is it an opinion or hearsay, and whether there is missing information pertinent for decision making. The last issue of major concern when stirring the ethical issue debate is the available options. Through this, one can coin a creative problem-solving approach with win-win alternatives that cover the interest of either side being protected proactively.

The objectives of the stakeholders and the corresponding number of methods available to fulfill the objectives as well as the advantages and disadvantages attached to each method also warrants as an issue of concern in this context (Comstock, 2010, p. 486). The last item of concern in the list of questions asked when addressing the debate is the ethical principles that guide the arguments.


Comstock, G 2010, Ethics and Genetically Modified Foods, Iowa State University Ames, IA.
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