Recently I’ve become more aware of the moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding animal suffering. In my First Year Seminar, Killing and Saving, we have been debating the idea that animals deserve equal moral consideration, reading articles by utilitarian animal activist, Peter Singer. As an avid pet-lover and a dedicated volunteer at a pet shelter, I find myself siding with Singer. In particular, Singer has encouraged me to think objectively about animal exploitation and the popular practice of genetic modification in our culture.
To investigate this topic further, I conducted a few short interviews with students on my floor. One pre-med major named Walker surprised me as he looked at the topic from a cross-cultural perspective. Walker described to me his experiences abroad in Kenya, where there is never enough food to go around. He specifically recalls interacting with children who were forced to eat mud when their main food, ugadi, was in short supply. In many instances, these children consumed parasites and became even more malnourished and sickly. According to Walker, “genetically modified crops have the potential to ensure food production in Kenya and other less developed nations.”
While I am a strong supporter of combating hunger, I can’t help but wonder about the negative consequences associated with consuming and distributing GMOs. For class, we read “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari” which describes how food in some cultures is distributed equally, placing no one person above someone else. This egalitarian system works well in cultures where resources are limited (Angeloni, 2013: 10). Wouldn’t introducing genetically modified foods into these environments force them to change their system and rethink their humble cultural practices? Through this blog, I hope to learn more about how GMOs affect our culture as well as cultures across the globe.
Walker Smock, tape-recording, Norton, Massachusetts, 7 October 2013