Ethical Issues in Integrating Biotechnology with Agriculture.
From my experience working at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN for two consecutive summers, I have encountered tree different views on agricultural practices. One solution is Biotechnology, which can genetically modify organisms to be resistant to any herbicide, to require less water, to lessen the need of sunlight and ability to survive in tough conditions. The second solution is Organic Farming, which completely opposes the first view. It states that any addition to the crop, genetic, chemical or hormonal is not beneficial since it is not natural. The third solution is Conservation Farming, which integrates biotechnology with zero-tillage techniques to restore soil biology and maintain product yield.
Agricultural practice has changed during the industrial revolution (Alvin Toffler, “The Third Wave”) from self-sufficient producers for their own consumption to bulk production for sale, trade or exchange. Today’s society cannot go back to being self sufficient, so there is a question which agricultural practice is ethical in the rapidly advancing society. Organic farming is good in a theory, but the reality is that it cannot allow for high yield. Biotechnological solution uses heavy machinery and chemicals for food production. Both of them are shortsighted solutions that destroy soil biology, cause erosion and lead to chemical leeching into ground waters. Conservation agriculture can be considered the most ethical option because it integrates the use of chemical herbicides and genetically modified organisms to produce desired yield and conducts zero-tillage practice that restores soil biology.
Mariya Chechina (United States)
Food and Agricultural Organisation
(Virtual Presentation, English)