Friday, May 24, 2013

The Feminist Opposition of GMOs

Although women were never the sole warriors in the fight against oppression and domination of one group onto another (e.g. Civil Rights Movement, animal liberation), they continue to play an important role in identifying and resisting such abuse. Beginning in the late 19th century, the feminist movement sought to bring equality to everybody, regardless of gender. Initially the movement targeted issues such as reproductive rights, equal pay, and suffrage, but as the campaign evolved, activists began to identify more central causal issue at hand: domination by the patriarchally organized society in which we continue to live. Because of this, several subsets of the feminist movement were erected, including ecofeminism.
Karren Warren describes ecofeminism best by claiming that “(i) there are important connections between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature; (ii) understanding the nature of these connections is necessary to any adequate understanding of the oppression of women and the oppression of nature; (iii) feminist theory and practice must include an ecological perspective; and (iv) solutions to ecological problems must include a feminist perspective.”

Feminism, Ecofeminism, and GMOs

While the creation, production, and consumption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) affects everybody, there is good reason to believe that women, as a group of individuals, are particularly marginalized; research into the safety of GMOs has most notably cited reproductive health and gestational issues surrounding GMOs, not to mention the fact that women are predominantly responsible for household grocery shopping. Putting these issues aside, however, it is imperative that feminists and non-feminists alike recognize that the same ideology responsible for oppression of women within the workplace, healthcare, and legal system is responsible for the production and maintenance of genetically engineered (GE) foodstuffs.
As a society, we have made substantial progress in recognizing the deleterious effects of our desire for control onto many groups (albeit not a perfect recognition) of individuals. That being said, recognition that control for the uncontrollable is at the heart of the problem and must be addressed in order to find a solution has not yet been reached. The issue of GMOs is just another product of this domineering mentality; human beings exercise their desire for control over another group, in this case animal and plant life, in the quest to make corn produce dangerous pesticides, tomato bearers of fish genes, salmon to grow twice as fast as normal, etc.
As I noted earlier, consequentialism provides a strong basis for rejecting many aspects of GMOs. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that rejection can be made beyond what the production and consumption of GMOs results in. Let us not shift our focus entirely, but instead reorganize it to include what may be the most important step in producing equality among all beings: the destruction of our oppressive, patrciarchical desire for control over that which ought not be controlled.

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