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Food Ethics: Should Environmentalists Oppose Genetically Modified Food?

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I will argue that environmentalists should not oppose genetically modified foods. Genetically modified foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) are crop plants that are modified in a laboratory to enhance desired traits, to offer greater yields, to improve pest and disease resistance, to increase nutrition, or to boost tolerance to temperature extremes, drought, and salinity (The Hutchinson Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide). This controversial concept has been debated among environmental activists, public interest groups, and other scientists and government officials since GMOs were introduced in 1996. However, genetic engineering has enormous potential benefits that society cannot ignore now or in the future. First, genetically modified foods should be encouraged because the use of GMOs promotes positive farming and agricultural practices that have less of an impact on the environment than traditional farming. While necessary to our modern society, farming unquestionably harms the environment in a variety of ways. Plowing depletes the soil of valuable nutrients and can lead to increased erosion and pollution. Since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, farmers have plowed their land, often several times a year for weed control, but “with plowing has come runoff that pollutes rivers and blights aquatic habitat, erosion that wears away the land, and the release into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases stored in the soil” (Rauch 371). Herbicides are another method of weed control, which also can be very harmful to the environment by polluting waterways with toxic chemicals. Modified plants require less plowing, and therefore the use of GMOs will likely result is less soil depletion and erosion. ... ... middle of paper ... .... Gertsberg, Deniza. "Loss of Biodiversity and Genetically Modified Foods." GMO Journal: Food Safety Politics. GMO Journal, 17 June 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. . Pocket K No. 4: GM Crops and the Environment. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, July 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2013. . Rauch, Jonathan. "Can Frankenfood Save the Planet?" 2003. Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application. Comp. Louis P. Pojman and Paul Pojman. 6th ed. Boston: Wadswoth, 2012. 371-77. Print. Thompson, Paul. "Shall We Dine? Confronting the Strange and Horrifying Story of GMOs in Our Food." Food & Philosophy: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry. Ed. Fritz Allhoff and Dave Monroe. N.p.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007. 208-20. Print.
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