The Justifications We Make

On Tuesday we were faced with the question, what are we doing with science now that we will look back at in fifty years and be unnerved by? This was in response to the discussion on America’s history surrounding eugenics. Where I was headed with my comment was Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). There is research on the long-term effects of GMOs, some which say that the altered food is causing cancer. I was always on the side that there were hundreds of thousands of people starving everyday and if there was something we could do to keep them from starving we should. Our discussion however, made me sit back and think. Am I making/supporting rash decisions in response to this epidemic, and will I someday sit back and be saddened by what I was able to justify?

Let me say, I don’t know where I am on this debate, but I appreciate the discussion because it is causing me to dig further into the issue and better understand the arguments. There are so many fiercely debated topics in science, what are we willing to justify for the betterment of society. Are there any scientific debates that you were firmly on one side of and now look at differently?

2 thoughts on “The Justifications We Make

  1. I think the main issue here is unintended consequences. It reminds me of the “Thalidomide babies” of the 1950s; doctors really believed they were helping pregnant women, but it had the terrible effect of thousands of babies being born with birth defects, because they just didn’t know the long-term consequences of the drug. Something similar could happen with genetically modified food; it seems like a good idea now, but what will be in consequences in a few years? It could turn out to be a great thing, but we just don’t know yet.

    Another issue to consider is that genetically modified food is being grown mostly in less-developed and higher-poverty countries. If it turns out that GMOs have negative effects, it’s the lower-class people of color who are going to bear the greatest burden.

  2. Emily, thank you so much for following up on my post. Based on all the reflection blogs it seems like we all have a lot of unanswered questions about science and, as Carly eloquently put it, society. This is a different argument than others we have in this class because we all benefit from the innovation of science, and I know I personally am not ready to give up some of these indulgences. Consequently, it is really hard to know where the line is because when it comes to science it is always new. There is really no debate about history repeating itself in science. Quite possibly the outcomes, but what scientists are trying to do is always cutting age and groundbreaking, thus making it really hard to know, or be able to predict, what the final outcomes will be. I think for me it comes down to desired results/outcomes. If these are morally and ethically based then this is a good first step. It’s just hard to know what comes next.

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