Potential benefits & risks - a summary
The ethical issues around GM crop technology are all very closely linked together, however they broadly fit into three areas:
Benefits and potential benefits
claimed by GM supporters
Potential risks claimed
by GM opponents
Could help to feed the developing world
Will not be able to feed the world
GM crops are more cost-effective
Could damage organic farmers
Could benefit human health
May have unpredictable health risks
Could reduce pesticide and herbicide use
Could increase herbicide and pesticide use
Could help preserve natural habitats
Could reduce biodiversity
Mainly benefit big biotech companies
Raises ethical conflicts over the control of
Task: Work out how each of the points in the table above connect to the three categories in the opening paragraph.
Task: Read the pages in this GM Crops section and find information to support each of the points in the table.
Not throwing out the baby with the bathwater
Any technology can be used for 'good' or 'bad'. Nuclear physics has led to both weapons to destroy and new forms of medicine to heal. GM crop technology is no different. Thus it is important to ask whether GM technology is in itself a problem, or whether it is specific applications of it that give rise to moral concerns.
What are the main uses of GM crop technology so far ?