Planned Addiction: Based on A Narrow View of Ethical Responsibility
May 4, 2011 1 Comment
Authors Note: This article follows a previous post about Planned Obsolescence, which is making something wear out or need to be replaced more quickly than necessary in order to make more money.
What is Planned Addiction?
Planned addiction is intentionally making something addictive in order to sell more of it. Planned addiction is more directly harmful than planned obsolescence in that it relies on causing people to want to consume (or use) more of something, and even in some cases to become physically addicted to something, that we know can harm them. In the quest to make more money, there are still businesses who are relying on ingredients that encourage us to become addicted to their products to generate sales.
A Narrow View of Ethical Responsibility
Making decisions about ingredients using a purely profitability mindset is dangerous because it means that we are using a very narrow view of ethical responsibility, one that does not consider harming others to be unethical.
Chemical Additive Cocktails
Chemicals that affect the brain and interfere with health are still being used in food and drink in place of natural ingredients, even though research is showing that they cause major systemic harm to human health. In Chemical Cuisine: Learn About Food Additives posted by Center for Science in the Public Interest, there is a list of chemical additives coded with a red, yellow and green system to show which ones are safe, which to be cautious about and which to avoid.
“Shopping was easy when most food came from farms. Now, factory-made foods have made chemical additives a significant part of our diet. ” Center for Science in the Public Interest
Some companies are using caution and phasing out additives that are not from nature in the quest for better health and/or to continue to attract the health-conscious consumer. Some manufacturers are not taking the cautious approach and are still using additives that are “code red.” Is it ethical to tinker with our body’s own natural ability to keep itself healthy in the quest for profits?
Reasons That Companies May Continue to Use Harmful Chemicals:
- Chemicals are cheaper than natural ingredients
- Chemicals have “special effects” on people that enhance the taste of foods
- This food enhancement may cause people to want to eat more of the food
- When people consume more of the product, the companies make more money
Today’s consumer is more likely to use systems thinking and to understand the potential impact of profit-based decisions on them and their families. Businesses that ignore this broader awareness and tinker with human health because it is more profitable to do so will become tomorrow’s media headlines and ethics class case studies.
Resources for Learning More About Planned Addiction
Food Additive Wikipedia
Excitotoxins Multiple Sclerosis Society, msrc.co.uk
Study: New Evidence for Food Addiction Wall Street Journal Health Blog
Some Food Additives Mimic Human Hormones ScientificAmerican.com
What is in Fast Food? A Newly Discovered Reason to Avoid Fast Food by Dr. Joseph Mercola, Huffington Post
Chemicals in Food Can Make You Fat CBSNews.com
Linda Fisher Thornton is Owner of Leading in Context LLC. She is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Continuing Studies.
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