You Are What You Eat: Genetically Modified Foods, Integrity, and Society
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Thus far, the moral debateconcerning genetically modified foods (GMF) hasfocused on extrinsic consequentialist questionsabout the health effects, environmental impacts,and economic benefits of such foods. Thisextrinsic approach to the morality of GMF isdependent on unsubstantiated empirical claimsand fails to account for the intrinsic moralvalue of food and food choice and theirconnection to the agent's concept of the goodlife. I develop a set of objections to GMFgrounded in the concept of integrity andmaintain that food and food choice can beintimately connected to the agent's personalintegrity. I argue that due to the constitutionof GMF and the manner in which they areproduced, such foods are incompatible with thefundamental values and integrity of certainindividual moral agents or groups. I identifythree types of integrity that are threatened byGMF: religious, consumer, and integrity basedon certain other moral or metaphysical grounds.I maintain that these types of integrity aresufficiently important to provide justificationfor political and societal actions to protectthe interests of those affected. I conclude byproposing specific steps for handling GMFconsistent with the moral principles ofinformed consent, non-maleficence, and respectfor the integrity of all members of society.They include mandatory labeling of GMF, theimplementation of a system for control andregulations concerning such foods, andguaranteed provision of conventional foods.
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