Environmental Ethics

1. Your case study will begin by looking up and writing a solid, detailed definition of: BIO-MAGNIFICATION. In order to understand the ethical dilemmas that corporations are facing we must look at some of the more obvious areas to the public: polluted water supplies, polluted air, dirt, etc. They understand bio-magnification and so does the EPA.
Research and explain what this scientifically means and how it is applied when the EPA conducts the testing on ground water, as an example. (one page is required) Bio-magnification is a “Result of the process of bioaccumulation and biotransfer by which tissue concentrations of chemicals in organisms at one trophic level exceed tissue concentrations in organisms at the next lower trophic level in a food chain. – Environmental Protection Agency, 2010 (“Biomagnification,” 2012). In other words, bio-magnification is the increase in concentration of a substance that occurs in a food chain as a consequence of one of the following: persistence (cant be broken down by environmental processes), food chain energetics, and or low (non consistent) rate of internal degradation/excretion of the substance (often due to water-insolubility).
Biological magnification often times refers to the process by whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals move up the food chain, work their way into our rivers, lakes and streams, are eaten by aquatic organisms such as fish, which in turn are eaten by large birds, animals or humans. These substances become concentrated in tissues or internal organs as they move up the food chain (“Biomagnification,” 2012). In summary, bio-magnification is the process whereby the tissue concentrations of a contaminant, such as pesticides or heavy metal, increase as it passes up the food chain through two or more trophic levels. . The second part of this case is about “genetically modified foods”. Debate the concept that utilitarian is concerned regarding the rights of consent when dealing with potentially harmful new technologies. (2 pages are required) a. Conduct research on genetically modified foods using at least 2 sources and take a position. What is genetically modified foods? Genetically modified foods (GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.

These techniques are much more precise than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. Other techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding, and somaclonal variation. Since genetically modified food has been introduced into supermarkets, there has been much controversy as to whether it is actually safe (“Genetically modified food,” 2012). Genetically modified foods in the US include over 40 plant varieties that have completed all federal requirements for commercialization (Whitman, 2000). . Is it ethical or not to produce these foods? It is ethical to produce the foods as long as the genetically modified foods are being produced for ethical reasons, such as meeting the ever growing hungers need of our world population. One ethical dilemma that is presented with genetically modified foods is “fairness in the use of genetic information”, which means “who should have access to personal genetic information, and how it will be used” (“Genetically modified foods,” 2012)? Another is privacy and confidentiality of genetic information, or who owns and controls genetic information? c. Do the benefits outweigh the costs?
The benefits GM foods include enhanced taste and quality, reduced maturation time, increased nutrients, yields, and stress tolerance. Other benefits of GM foods include improved resistance to disease, pests, and herbicides. Also, new products and growing techniques are benefits of GM foods. Environmental benefits of genetically modified foods include conservation of soil, water, and energy and better natural waste management. The costs of GM foods include potential human health impacts and potential environmental impacts including unknown effects on organisms and loss of flora and fauna biodiversity.
Another cost to weigh with GM Foods is the possibility of world food production domination by a few companies. Also, increased dependence on industrialized nations by developing countries is a cost to be considered when thinking about GM foods. Ethically, GM foods run the risk of potentially violating organisms’ intrinsic values and stress for animals. I do not believe the risks outweigh the benefits. I am afraid of what will happen while we are tampering with mother nature. d. Are these foods harmful to human consumption?
It is not yet known if the foods are harmful to human consumption. The long term effects on humans after consuming GM foods is not yet known. e. Who is lobbying for this new breed of food? Business, governments, individuals, and why? Who benefits from these foods: financially, ethically, and humanitarian? Businesses lobby for this new breed of food. These businesses can acquire a patent for their GM foods and ultimately corner the market on said food items which is extremely financially beneficial for these businesses.
Individuals in third world countries and impoverished countries benefit the most from GM foods. Our governments must find a way to regulate the GM Food industry in such a way that it is ethical and fair to individuals and companies. Thousand of starving people can be saved by implementing the GM food procedures but the risks of long term consumption on the human existence is unknown and therefore makes it very hard to decide whether or not it is ethical to produce GM foods. Works Cited Biomagnification. (2012, July 8). Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. rg/wiki/Biomagnification Biomagnification. (2012, July 8). Retrieved from http://toxics. usgs. gov/definitions/biomagnification. html Genetically modified food. (2012, July 8). Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food Genetically modified foods and organisms. (2012, May 17). Retrieved from http://www. ornl. gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood. shtml Whitman, D. (2000, April). Genetically modified foods: Harmful or helpful?. Retrieved from http://www. csa. com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview. php/review. pdf


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