July 8, 2010

moral principles of informed consent

Thus far, the moral debate concerning genetically modified foods (GMF) has focused on extrinsic consequentialist questions about the health effects, environmental impacts, and economic benefits of such foods. This extrinsic approach to the morality of GMF is dependent on unsubstantiated empirical claims and fails to account for the intrinsic moral value of food and food choice and their connection to the agent's concept of the goodlife. I develop a set of objections to GMF grounded in the concept of integrity and maintain that food and food choice can be intimately connected to the agent's personal integrity. I argue that due to the constitution of GMF and the manner in which they are produced, such foods are incompatible with the fundamental values and integrity of certain individual moral agents or groups. I identify three types of integrity that are threatened by GMF: religious, consumer, and integrity based on certain other moral or metaphysical grounds. I maintain that these types of integrity are sufficiently important to provide justification for political and societal actions to protect the interests of those affected. I conclude by proposing specific steps for handling GMF consistent with the moral principles of informed consent, non-maleficence, and respect for the integrity of all members of society. They include mandatory labeling of GMF, the implementation of a system for control and regulations concerning such foods, and guaranteed provision of conventional foods.

Assya Pascalev
You Are What You Eat: Genetically Modified Foods, Integrity, and Society;
Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

The EU recognises the consumers' right to information and labelling as a tool for making an informed choice. Since 1997 Community legislation has made labelling of GM food mandatory for foods containing or are derived from GMO.

Canadians should not let up their demands to provide consumers their birthright as Canadians, protected in our charter. We have the right to choose the foods that are morally. spiritually and ethically acceptable to us. It is our responsibility to ensure the unobstructed enjoyment of these rights.


Anonymous said...

I'm having such a hard time these days, following all the news, all the horrible news that we fucked up humand generate. In fact, I don't even have the time and energy to follow the GMO/Monsatan evilness any more. So I'm just going to continue to garden and put up as much food as I can, and for the rest, buy only organic. And of course, this means fuck USDA's bullshit standards, but support the higher standards, like OCIA, & Oregon Tilth, etc. I was so proud of Eden Foods for announcing they're not using the USDA cert label any more, since it's so bullshitty. And we're not rich; we're decidedly low income, and every organic product we buy means sacrifice on some level. So there you are; we're working so hard as it is, we have no more time to follow and sign online petitions. I take comfort in this ancient Chinese quote: "Cultivating one's own garden is the politics of the humble man." And then again, there was this old hippie guy, (Tim Leary) who said, "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out."

anne said...

Hi Anony,

I understand your strong language but I like what Martha Reeves and the Vandellas have to say:


There is no where to run, nowhere to hide. Eventually it will catch up to the survivalist homesteads and rigtheous shoppers, from above or inside. We must look around and stop the travesty that hasn't yet completed its (really evil) course. We must confirm our sovereign rights to live as we will in good conscience (pure healthy sustainable food , for e.g.) I agree online petitions are wimpy - every day I think about other peaceful ways. Ideas from the hinterland and coordination will help us.