Genetically engineered foods, otherwise known as genetically modified organisms, are rapidly being produced throughout the world for a variety of reasons by Genetic Engineers. Genetic modification or genetic engineering involves altering the genetic material of an organism by using techniques which may manipulate food, animals and perhaps even humans. With food for instance, scientists have the ability to reduce fruit softening, to make plants insect repellent, to enrich foods with minerals or vitamins, to brighten the color of fruit and to alter the shape of produce for easier storage (for example Japanese scientists have created square watermelons).
In animals, pigs were implanted with cattle DNA to allow them to produce more milk to raise their young more rapidly and efficiently. This was a genetic experiment, the animals involved were supposed to be destroyed after the process. In reality, they were sold to slaughterhouses and processed into pork products for supermarkets throughout Canada and the United States.
One of the more recent genetic engineering projects that is even more disturbing involves Chinese scientists genetically modified a dairy cow enabling it to produce human breast milk. The cows are apparently a special herd that were created with human genes and scientists expect to see this type of milk sold in supermarkets within the next three years.
Genetic engineers are deliberately breeding transgender goats to see if their milk is similar to that produced by humans. The goats being created are effectively a female trapped in a male’s body, complete with the full male anatomy. The company behind them wants to see if their milk contains the same proteins as human breast milk, with a view to one day possibly selling it in stores.
Large corporations including Monsanto, Bayer and Novartis are often behind such projects and in a position of considerable power, with financial gain fuelling their intentions. Genetic engineering and genetic modification by all means is revolutionary biotechnology and has been predicted to have the potential to solve food shortage and famine worldwide.
The introduction of biotechnology has stirred much debate and concern amongst consumers and health practitioners. Regardless of whatever benefits biotechnology may offer, genetic engineering and genetic modification is the furthest step we can take from nature and with no testing in place to examine safety, food altering technology may have potentially hazardous effects on health and the environment. Recent studies have suggested a link between genetically engineered soybeans and corn with a rise in food allergies in humans, as well as immune dysfunction in mice consuming genetically engineered peas.
Regardless of the secular debates and concerns with genetic engineering, is this ethically right to pursue these practices from a Scriptural context? We will examine several passages from Genesis and Leviticus to come to a definitive conclusion.
And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:11-12 ESV)
And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:20-22 ESV)
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds–livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:24-25 ESV)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:26-28 ESV)
Every plant and animal that God made when he created the earth each reproduced “according to their kind” and God said that was “good.” When God created man, He told us to, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
To subdue something means to conquer by force or the exertion of superior power, and bring into permanent subjection; to reduce under dominion. Dominion is sovereign or supreme authority; the power of governing and controlling. Does this include genetic engineering as we please? Absolutely not!
“You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.”
(Leviticus 19:19 ESV)
In Leviticus 19:19 we are given mitzvahs (commandments) not to interbreed animals or seeds. Therefore, genetic engineering is in direct violation of God’s commandments. Why is this prohibition made? Maybe a better question is, who are we to question the infinite wisdom of our omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient Creator? Who are we to argue with God?
The Bible doesn’t directly say that genetic engineering is an abomination to God, but I am almost certain that we can easily come to that very conclusion ourselves.