Talons Philosophy

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Anti-GMO Food Logic


 Image courtesy of http://lincolngenetics.blogspot.ca

Tomato in the left column: non-GMO

Tomatoes in the centre and right columns: GMO

Modified 15/10/2014

GMO food has been on the market since 1994, when Calgene first marketed its Flavr Savr delayed ripening tomato. Since then, GMO food has become widespread in the food market, and most people aren’t even aware they are eating GMO food. GMO food is produced through genetic engineering, where a gene from one organism is inserted into the genome of another. The genes are usually removed from one species and inserted into another species, creating transgenic organisms.

David Suzuki is a renowned Canadian scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. In an interview with CBC in October 1999, when asked about his opinion about GMO food, Mr. Suzuki replied that he’s “we have no idea what the long-term consequences of these genetic manipulations are.”

Mr. Suzuki’s statement can be viewed as an argument broken down into the following premises and conclusion:

Premise 1: Effects of gene transplantation from one species to another species on the organism are unknown.

Premise 2: Effects from consumption of GMO organisms on an unmodified organism are unknown.

Premise 3: Consumption of GMO foods entails risks that have not been fully identified or proven.

Conclusion: Therefore, we should avoid consumption of GMO foods.

An evaluation of Mr. Suzuki’s argument may reveal to us how sound his argument is.

Premise 1 can be considered to be true, since there have not been extensive studies conducted into the effects. There is insufficient scientific data to prove any known effects.

Premise 2 can be considered to be true also, since monitoring the effects of all the different combinations of GMO foods is close to impossible.

Premise 3 can be considered to be true, as this premise is based on the Precautionary Principle, which states that “if a proposed activity carries with it the possibility of environmental harm, but that harm is not completely proven, then that activity may not be allowed.”

– P. Saradhi Puttagunta

As seen above, Mr. Suzuki’s argument is factually correct, since all the premises are true. They are true because the development of GMO food is relatively recent, and not enough research has been done on its effects. His premises are valid because they have a correct form and are based on valid logic. This validates his conclusion, thus making his argument valid. His argument is logically sound, because it is both valid and true.

Genetic engineering may affect future generations of humans in a variety of ways. Firstly, the biodiversity of flora and fauna will be severely diminished, since unmodified varieties of crops will be replaced with genetically engineered varieties. Food supplies could be severely affected if the genetically engineered crops are stricken with disease. Since there would be fewer varieties of crops, natural resistance to the disease would not exist, resulting in massive crop failure. This would lead to severe food shortage, malnutrition, health problems, and even death.

However, the danger of endorsing Mr. Suzuki’s argument is to deprive developing countries of a chance of improving their condition. GMO food may help to reduce hunger because it can be engineered to provide more nutrition. This property can help combat malnutrition, and improve the health of many populations.



7 Responses to Anti-GMO Food Logic

  1. kelseyf says:

    I enjoyed reading your post. I thought it was relevant and interesting. I would have liked to seen more images and different formatting to make the post more aesthetically appealing.

    To argue your argument, many of the premises state that the use of genetically modified foods has unknown effects on us. Why do the effects have to be bad? Could it be possible that creating genetically stronger foods could prevent food shortages and eliminate bad foods?

    • ktay says:

      In reply to your argument about my argument, Mr. Suzuki is implying in his argument that we should be wary of the unknown. Using the example of “curiousity killed the cat”, his view is that the tampering with what we don’t know could have adverse effects on us.There is truth in what he says, but there is also validity in the view that the effects of genetic engineering could be positive. I cannot answer you question fully because there isn’t enough scientifically sound evidence for me to use to prove the effects of genetic engineering, whether they are positive or negative. In the last paragraph of my post, I briefly explored the dangers of endorsing Mr. Suzuki’s argument. It is true that genetically engineering food can prevent food shortages and malnutrition, as seen with Golden Rice, but to be able to grow GMO food entails heavy use of pesticides.

  2. sassidy says:

    I let out a gasp of delight at your amazing collection of links. It was super helpful, since I didn’t previously know what “GMO” food meant (I clicked on the “GMO food”, “Calgene”, and “Flavr Savr” links). At around the middle of your post, you’re breaking up the lines a little too often (ex. “As seen above, (enter)”). You have a great “so what” paragraph at the end of your post.

  3. sassidy says:

    Also, a photo of what GMO food is would be nice for people who don’t have time to open external links

  4. bryanjack says:

    Hi Kimberley,

    Great post on an intriguing topic! I think an additional premise might be required to make the leap to saying that we shouldn’t be consuming GMOs. As it is now, the first two premises only establish that the effects of these practices are unknown, but not that humans shouldn’t ingest unknown entities. This third premise could be summarized by the logic at work in what is called the precautionary principle, which is “essentially a ‘better safe than sorry’ policy approach to new technologies that may be environmentally harmful. The basic premise of this Principle is that science cannot sufficiently predict all possible outcomes of our actions, and that society cannot afford to wait through a series of attempts to find out if the activity carries the potential for harm” (source: http://ualawccsprod.srv.ualberta.ca/centres/hli/userfiles/puttaguntafrm1.pdf).

    How might the inclusion of the precautionary principle factor into the strength of the argument?

    Mr. J

    • ktay says:

      Hi Mr. Jackson,

      Thank you for this paper on the Precautionary Principle. This principle is very relevant to the topic of GMO food. After reading it, I was able to incorporate it into the premises to improve their validity. I’ve also modified my statement to better fit into the argument.


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