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Why do some religious groups have a problem with biotechnology and GMOs?
What are GMO’s?
- Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals whose DNA has been genetically engineered in such a way that it improves the organism’s overall health, strength, etc.
- This procedure is done in a laboratory.
- These organisms can not be found in nature.
- There are food products available for consumption that contain GMOs, yes the Government allows this.
What’s all the controversy surrounding GMOs about?
- GMOs have never been studied long term so technically we don’t know the affects of GMOs on humans after a long period of being exposed to and ingesting these products.
- GMOs have been tested on animals but some claim that the research was not extensive enough.
- Farmers are at risk because biotechnology companies have the ability to sue any farm who has become contaminated with GMOs, for example this could happen if the wind from a neighboring GMO-using farm carries the pollen from genetically modified corn to the next farm over, who is organic. The biotechnology company owns the rights to the GMOs, in turn they have the right to sue anyone who uses their technology even if by mistake…
- There is evidence that GMOs are directly responsible for the production of “super weeds” and “super drugs.”
- The effects of GMOs on the environment have not been fully studied.
Religion calls for faith, fundamental values, and often times for stewardship.
There are ethical issue surrounding the use of GMOs, there are people who resist consuming GMOs because of their religious beliefs. People of faith see GMOs has giving people the chance to “play God.” Others think that tampering with nature is instinctually wrong or that inserting animal genes in plants is immoral.
Some Christian groups say that their approach to GMOs is based on care for God’s creation as shown in Genesis 2.15 – respect for God’s creations. God entrusted the earth to man’s use. For a Christian who interpreted the passage in Genesis this way, he might say “Yes” to GMOs. It is man’s responsibly to care for the earth, what is wrong with bettering it?
Judaism and GMOs: although Jewish law does not prohibit GMO food, that does not mean that it is ethically okay. In the Jewish religion, humans must work to bring the world closer to perfection and not further away from it. Although GMOs may increase the quality of food, there is also a risk that it may be harmful to human health and the environment . Which may be the reason that a Rabbi would urge people of the Jewish community to scrutinize GMOs closely.
There are no laws within Islam that prevent the genetic modification of food and crops, the same as in all religions simply because religious practices came about in a time where the thought of science modifying organisms wasn’t even a thought, let alone an idea. Some followers of Islam say that there is no need for genetically modified food because God created everything perfectly and man does not have the right to tamper with God’s creations.
Through these three examples of different religions, it is clear that religion has the ability to encourage and inspires one’s actions. If religion can influence your view on the debate over GMO use and consumption, couldn’t it influence stewardship for the environment and serve as a vehicle to influence change in the environmental movement?