Social issues and GM crops
Social issues and GM crops

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2.2 What is natural?

Many critics of GM feel that the techniques reflect an unwelcome form of 'tampering with nature'. This is a particular concern of some consumers with respect to food. Such a view is sometimes scornfully interpreted as an expression of what is called the 'naturalistic fallacy' - a belief that equates morality with naturalness, seeing what is natural as 'right'. But concerns about GM foods may reflect a more reasoned and defensible position. It might be argued that consumers are not demanding a 'risk-free' existence, but that they are disinclined to add extra risks of uncertain magnitude.

Question 1

Suppose that β-carotene-enhanced 'Golden Rice' could be obtained either 'naturally'- i.e. via conventional plant breeding, or via the 'engineered' route . Which rice would be acceptable to you?


Your answer might be one or other, both, or neither. This is not a question we can answer for you. However, do take a moment to write down the reasons underpinning your choice; it will be useful to come back to them later on. Do you think your choice is based on logic or 'feelings'? Using a similar example, the Nuffield report concludes 'we can see no reason in ethics to draw a distinction'. This is a point of view worth exploring in more detail.

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