Biocentric Ethics Analysis

8 August 2016

Inherent and intrinsic value both refer to the value that is within the item or organism, it has value in and of itself; the value within the item or organism is “independent of the interests, needs, or uses of anyone else” (DesJardins, 2013, p. 113). Inherent value refers to the value that is found or recognized within the item or organism; whether spiritual, moral, aesthetic, symbolic, or it is of cultural importance.

An organism or an item that has inherent or intrinsic value offers something of value other than as an instrument; for example, relationships with friends and family, the Bald Eagle as the official bird of the United States has inherent value for its great strength, majestic beauty, and long life. Within each item or organism the value stems from when it means or stands for, as opposed to what it is not or how it is used. Life itself, whether a microscopic organism, animal, insect, or plant all have inherent and intrinsic value; simply because it exists.

Biocentric Ethics Analysis Essay Example

Scientists have tampered been tampering with the basic genetics of food for many years, cross-breeding, taking the most desirable of traits and merging them together, creating a new flavor or breed; for example, the Gala apple is a combination of the Golden Delicious apple and the Kid’s Orange-Red apple. This combining of traits has traditionally been used to combine same species; however, with the advances in biotechnology, scientists are able to engineer different species so that they can share the same genetic material.

The process of sharing the same genetic material within different organisms creates a “genetically modified organism” or GMO; this is commonly done within the food industry, creating seeds and plants that are resistant to pesticides, certain insects, and enable to plant to grow in unfavorable conditions. Currently, within the United States, “> 40% of the corn, >50% of the cotton and >45% of soybean acres planted in 1999 have been genetically modified, and at least 60% of food products in US supermarkets contain genetically modified organisms

(GMOs)” (Trends, 2002, p. 215). The positive aspects of GMOs is that it allows plants to be grown in environments that may not normally allow for the plant to grow. Food is less expensive as farming of the crop is easier; this beneficial on both a local and global scale. Furthermore, GMOs have been developed to add greater nutrition to the organism. The downside or concerns about GMOs is that there have been no studies that have tracked the long-term effects that GMOs may have on human consumption.

Researchers concerns include health risks such as; antibiotic resistance, exposure to allergens, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruption, and accelerated aging. The FDS does not view or treat GMOs any differently than traditionally grown crops; companies that use GMOs may choose to voluntarily go there a safety consultation without any additional testing required (Kantor, 2013). The scientists behind GMOs believe that it is important to provide “food security”.

Food security is about having sufficient physical, social, and economic access to safe, nutritious, and culturally acceptable food at the household level, without having to resort to emergency supplies” (Witcombe and Sanchez, 2004, p. 300). In countries such parts of Eastern and Central Africa the African cassava mosaic virus is transmitted by the whiteflies that feed on the cassava plants. Epidemics of the virus can lead to total loss of harvests.

Through the use of GMOs, a cassava plant can be developed that are able to resist the virus. Currently the only way to curb the virus is through the use of insecticide, which kills the whiteflies; such treatment can be expensive and a health hazard to the farmer, and the surrounding plants and animals. Possible challenges with the use of GMOs is the question of the emphasis on noninterference by humans; to interfere with nature or to let nature take its course.

There is no simple answer as to whether humans should interfere with nature. Humans have been interfering with nature since the dawn of time; cutting down trees and clearing land, damming rivers, crossbreeding animals and plants, along with immunizations and medications. The use of GMOs to create a secure food supply may initially pose some risks to humans, animals, and plants but, as with all progress, eventually the process will be perfected and the world may reap the reward of the technology.

Another question is whether inherent value is only within the individual organism and the question of whether humans have a duty to the ecosystem, nonliving objects, and all species. Humans have yet to learn the valuable lesson that what affects one organism affects the entire ecosystem. Introduce an organism into an ecosystem to which it does not belong and the entire ecosystem is disrupted; such as the zebra mussel into the Great Lakes, the native clams have been almost eradicated.

Whether society accepts or likes the idea of its food being altered by biochemistry, there may be no choice in the matter; GMO altered food is here to stay and it is only spreading. Those members of society who do not wish to partake of food enhanced by GMOs will need to pay the price that comes with organic foods free of GMOs. The lasting effects of GMO grown foods is yet to be clearly defined and society may not know for several generations; by then it may be too late to reverse the effects.

Companies, like Monsanto, have been accused of playing God; but the reality is that man has been playing God long before Monsanto entered the picture. Man has been playing God within the medical arena for ages, through the invention of airplanes that took man into the skies, and rockets into space with each step those who did not understand the vision laughed and stated it was outrageous; genetically modified organisms is just another step toward human advancement that society will eventually understand and accept.

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