Given the technological constraints of long-duration space travel and planetary settlement, off-Earth humans will likely need to employ food systems very different from their terrestrial counterparts, and newly emerging food technologies are being developed that will shape novel food systems in these off-Earth contexts. Projected off-Earth food systems may therefore potentially “alienate” their users in new ways compared to Earth-based food systems. They will be susceptible to alienation in ways that are similar to such potential on Earth, where there are (...) points of overlap between off-Earth food systems and any of the multitudes of ways in which food systems on Earth are structured. They will also be susceptible to new forms of alienation, as we encounter scenarios that are genuinely structurally novel to humanity. These are especially important to consider since there are comparatively fewer analyses of these food systems where they differ from existing ones. We propose five non-exhaustive sources of value beyond nutrition our individual relationships with a food may possess: gustatory, social, cultural, epistemic, and authorial value. Using these, we offer examples of ways in which an off-Earth food system may exacerbate or alleviate alienation for humans in long-term off-Earth food systems. (shrink)
Climate change is an existential risk reinforced by ordinary actions in afuent societies—often silently present in comfortable and enjoyable habits. This silence is sometimes broken, presenting itself as a nagging reminder of how our habits fuel a catastrophe. As a case in point, global warming has created a state of urgency among wine makers in Spain, as the alcohol level has risen to a point where it jeopardises wine quality and thereby Spanish viticulture. Eforts are currently being made to solve (...) this problem technologically by developing (non-GMO) strains of yeast that produce less alcohol. If successful, this could help save Spanish viticulture. This kind of technological solution is routinely criticised for ofering simplistic “techno-fx” solutions to solve complex societal problems. However, it is not clear what features are criticised by the notion of techno-fx and hence how to avoid this criticism. In our interpretation, the techno-fx notion is not exclusively used as a dismissive term. The notion points to a general virtue of engineering: to create technological solutions that work silently in the background. This asset of technological solutions might sometimes be problematic and sometimes not. Hence, it needs to be analysed case-by-case by paying attention to the moral relevance of the hidden implications of the technology and of the unrefective actions and habits that they facilitate. Such moral analysis will in turn inform strategies for foregrounding this technology to counteract silencing. We discuss what this means in the case of modifying yeast as a viticultural climate resilience strategy. (shrink)
The goal of ethical veganism is a vegan world or, at least, a significantly vegan world. However, despite the hard work done by vegan activists, global meat consumption has been increasing (Saiidi 2019; Christen 2021). Vegan advocates have focused on ethics but have ignored the importance of tradition and identity. And the advent of veggie meat alternatives has promoted food that emulates animal products thereby perpetuating the meat paradigm. I suggest that, in order to make significant changes toward ending animal (...) exploitation, ethical vegans give more attention to tradition and identity. Furthermore, I propose that raw veganism is the most ethical diet and can be the best way to move away from animal-based food. (shrink)
Synthetic foods advocates offer the promise of efficient, reliable, and sustainable food production. Engineered organisms become factories to produce food. Proponents claim that through this technique important barriers can be eliminated which would facilitate the production of traditional foods outside their climatic range. This technique would allow reducing food miles, secure future supply, and maintain quality and taste expectations. In this paper, we examine coffee production via biobased means. A startup called Atomo Coffee aims to produce synthetic coffee with the (...) aim of saving ‘the taste of coffee’ from the effects of climate change. This decontextualisation of coffee production ignores the current and historical contributions of coffee farmers in two ways: the traditional varieties in taste of coffee and their cultural significance, and the potential shade-grown coffee plantations have in capturing carbon. In addition, synthetic coffee may lead to the loss of agricultural biodiversity and the removal of resources away from production systems that provide a safe space for tropical flora and fauna. How should the ‘taste of coffee’ be owned? We investigate the property regimes under which we could consider owning the taste of coffee as a ‘synthetic’ agrobiodiversity to help identify rights and responsibilities. Building on this analysis, we consider dimensions of responsible innovation and social justice to help guide synthetic foods as an agricultural innovation. (shrink)
From Editors' Introduction: "With our invitation to turn over (re-turn) hospitality in these times Marietta Radomska’s response combines her own research within the emerging field of Queer Death Studies6 with a detailed reading of the coronavirus disease pandemic. In her essay, “Viral queerings, amplified vulnerabilities”, Marietta seeks to subvert normative and simplified understandings of our present. Following the thread that the pandemic affects some bodies more than others, Marietta highlights how “the exploitation and degradation of nature mixed with intensifying socio-economic (...) inequalities directly contribute to the emergence of zoonoses”. Untangling the myth of the containable body and human-exceptionalism, Marietta challenges which lives are considered grievable drawing our attention to “more-than-human necropolitics”. In queering the pandemic she asks us to “reimagine the ways we relate to human and nonhuman others, perhaps in a more hospitable register”." Edited by Yvonne Billimore and Jussi Koitela. (shrink)
The project of growing meat artificially represents for some the next best thing to humanity. If successful, it could be the solution to several problems, such as feed- ing a growing global population while reducing the environmental impact of raising animals for food and, of course, reducing the amount and degree of animal cruelty and suffering that is involved in animal farming. In this paper, I argue that the issue of the morality of such a project has been framed only (...) in terms of the best conse- quences for the environment, animals, and humans, or in terms of deontic princi- ples. I argue that to appreciate how deep and difficult this issue is, it is necessary to consider it in terms of a virtue-oriented approach. Such an approach will reveal aspects that are not apparent, not contemplated by typical approaches, but are essen- tial to our understanding of the morality of lab-grown meat. As I argue, evaluating the issue from a virtue-oriented perspective suggests that the project of in vitro meat should not be supported because it stems from unvirtuous motivations. (shrink)
Our main research question is how pliable Norwegian meat consumption practices are. However it is not any type of elasticity we are interested in. We are specifically interested in the scope for what we dub the “4Rs” of responsible meat consumption within existing food systems: 1. Reducing the amount of animal-based proteins used 2. Replacing animal-based protein with plant-based, or insect-based alternatives 3. Refining processes of utilization of animal-based protein to minimize emissions, loss and waste 4. Recognising animal-based protein as (...) precious –i.e. recognising the people and the animals involved in meat production. -/- These four principles are derived by analogy to ethical principles guiding the use of animals in research, the so-called “3Rs”, namely: the imperatives to reduce the number of animals needed to make a scientific inference, to replace animal experiments with other types of research, and where not possible to replace ‘more’ with ‘less’ sentient creatures, and to refine the experimental setup so it minimises the discomfort and/or distress inflicted upon the animals (Russell and Burch, 1959). There are no such principles guiding the use of animals in farming, given the farming industry intrinsically relies on increasing its resources, of which animals are one. The current profile of climate change however opens up a way to re-appreciate meat –indeed what we articulate as the fourth principle of recognizing the preciousness of meat, above, given planetary boundaries. We proceed to reflect on how these 4Rs can be modulated, from a cultural-social perspective, that is, we look at cultural factors that could stretch current food practices along the 4R aspects. (shrink)
The mixture of political, social, cultural and economic environments in Latin America, together with the enormous diversity in climates, natural habitats and biological resources the continent offers, make the ethical assessment of agricultural policies extremely difficult. Yet the experience gained while addressing the contemporary challenges the region faces, such as rapid urbanization, loss of culinary and crop diversity, extreme inequality, disappearing farming styles, water and land grabs, malnutrition and the restoration of the rule of law and social peace, can be (...) of great value to other regions in similar latitudes, development processes and social problems. This chapter will provide a brief overview of these challenges from the perspective of a continent that is exposed to the consequences of extreme inequality in multiple dimensions and conclude by arguing for the need to have a continuous South-South dialogue on the challenges of establishing socially and environmentally sustainable food systems. (shrink)
References to the ‘natural’ are common in public health messaging about breastfeeding. For example, the WHO writes that ‘Breast milk is the natural first food for babies’ and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a breastfeeding promotion campaign called ‘It’s only natural’, which champions breastfeeding as the natural way to feed a baby. This paper critically examines the use of ‘natural’ language in breastfeeding promotion by public health and medical bodies. A pragmatic concern with selling breastfeeding as (...) ‘natural’ is that this may reinforce the already widespread perspective that natural options are presumptively healthier, safer and better, a view that works at cross-purposes to public health and medicine in other contexts. An additional concern is that given the history of breastfeeding in the USA, ‘natural’ evokes specific and controversial conceptions of gender and motherhood. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss appeals to nature, a particular kind of argument that has received little attention in argumentation theory. After a quick review of the existing literature, I focus on the use of such arguments in the public controversy over the acceptabil-ity of genetically-modified organisms in the food industry. Those who reject this biotechnology invoke its unnatural character. Such arguments have re-ceived attention in bioethics, where they have been analyzed by distinguishing different meanings that “nature” and “natural” might (...) have. I argue that in many such appeals to nature the main deficiency of these arguments is semantic, in particular, that these words cannot be assigned a determi-nate meaning at all. In doing so, I rely on semantic externalism, a widely accepted theory of linguistic meaning. (shrink)
JEFF SEBO | : In this paper I examine several of the moral and political questions raised by new kinds of meat. I begin by discussing the risks and harms associated with industrial animal agriculture, and I argue that plant-based meat and cultured meat are promising alternatives to conventional meat. I then explore the moral, conceptual, social, political, economic, and technical challenges that stand in the way of widespread adoption of these alternatives. For example, whether or not we achieve widespread (...) adoption will depend on whether or not we can persuade business and political leaders to see plant-based and cultured meat as an opportunity rather than as a threat. Finally, I consider several ways of meeting these challenges, and I argue that we must be very careful if we want to avoid the kinds of problems that other, similar technological innovations such as GMOs have faced. | : Dans cet article, j’examine plusieurs des questions morales et politiques que soulève la production de nouvelles formes de viandes. J’aborde d’abord les risques et les dangers liés à l’agriculture animale industrielle, et je soutiens que la viande à base de plantes et la viande cultivée représentent des alternatives prometteuses à la viande conventionnelle. J’examine ensuite les défis d’ordre moral, conceptuel, social, politique, économique, et technique, qui font obstacle à l’adoption généralisée de ces alternatives. Par exemple, cette dernière dépendra de si on arrive ou non à convaincre les dirigeants politiques et les chefs d’entreprise de voir la viande à base de plantes et la viande cultivée comme une opportunité plutôt que comme une menace. Enfin, je prends en considération plusieurs façons de relever ces défis, et j’appelle à la vigilance quant aux types de problèmes à éviter, auxquels d’autres innovations technologiques ont déjà été confrontés. (shrink)
The public controversy over genetically modified crops is predominantly framed in terms of concerns over health and safety. Within this framing, the primary point of controversy is whether GM foods are likely to cause bio-physiological injury or disease to human consumers; a secondary issue, but one that still fits within the health and safety framing, is whether the cultivation of GM crops is likely to cause bio-physiological injury or disease to non-target species or ecosystems more broadly. Proponents of the development (...) and... (shrink)
The controversy over genetically modified [GM] organisms is often framed in terms of possible hazards for human health. Articles in a previous volume of this *Encyclopedia* give a general overview of GM crops [@Mulvaney2014] and specifically examine human health [@Nordgard2014] and labeling [@Bruton2014] issues surrounding GM organisms. This article explores several other aspects of the controversy: environmental concerns, political and legal disputes, and the aim of "feeding the world" and promoting food security. Rather than discussing abstract, hypothetical GM organisms, this (...) article explores the consequences of the GM organisms that have actually been deployed in the particular contexts that they have been deployed, on the belief that there is little point in discussing GM organisms in an idealized or context-independent way. (shrink)
Agroecology has been criticized for being more labor-intensive than other more industrialized forms of agriculture. We challenge the assertion that labor input in agriculture has to be generally minimized and argue that besides quantity of work one should also consider the quality of work involved in farming. Early assessments on work quality condemned the deskilling of the rural workforce, whereas later criticisms have concentrated around issues related to fair trade and food sovereignty. We bring into the discussion the concept of (...) contributive justice to welcome the added labor-intensity of agroecological farming. Contributive justice demands a work environment where people are stimulated to develop skills and learn to be productive. It also suggests a fairer distribution of meaningful work and tedious tasks. Building on the notion of contributive justice we explore which capabilities and types of social relationships are sustainably promoted and reinforced by agroecological farming practices. We argue that agroecological principles encourage a reconceptualization of farm work. Farmers are continuously stimulated to develop skills and acquire valuable experiential knowledge on local ecosystems and agricultural techniques. Further, generalized ecological studies recognize the significance of the farmer’s observations on natural resources management. This contributes to the development of a number of capabilities and leads to more bargaining power, facilitating self-determination. Hereby farm work is made more attractive to a younger generation, which is an essential factor for safeguarding the continuity of family farms. (shrink)
Many anti-obesity policies face a variety of ethical objections. We consider one kind of anti-obesity policy — modifications to food assistance programs meant to improve participants' diet — and one kind of criticism of these policies, that they are inequitable. We take as our example the recent, unsuccessful effort by New York State to exclude sweetened beverages from the items eligible for purchase in New York City with Supplemental Nutrition Support Program assistance. We distinguish two equity-based ethical objections that were (...) made to the sweetened beverage exclusion, and analyze these objections in terms of the theoretical notions of distributive equality and social equality. First, the sweetened beverage exclusion is unfair or violates distributive equality because it restricts the consumer choice of SNAP participants relative to non-participants. Second, it is disrespectful or violates social equality to prohibit SNAP participants from purchasing sweetened beverages with food stamps. We conclude that neither equity-based ethical objection is decisive, and that the proposed exclusion of sugar-sweetened beverages is not a violation of either distributive or social equality. (shrink)
Both of the books reviewed here are anthologies edited by philosophers, intended for use in undergraduate “ethics of eating” classes taught under the auspices of philosophy departments; I review them as a teacher of such a class. The Pojman anthology is rather outdated, and not recommended. The Kaplan anthology, by contrast, would be a valuable starting point or addition to such a class, though it could not carry the class on its own.
Food is a big business in the EU and nanofood products are beginning to be placed on the market. It is still unclear whether the absence of minimum regulation at a global level promotes or prevents the growth of a market in nanofood. However, the development of an adequate risk management policy in relation to food safety is a key concern for consumers. Importantly, the European Parliament in its 2009 Resolution on “Legal aspects on nanomaterials” called for more in-depth scientific (...) research on the toxicity of compounds in nanomaterials, and for the adoption of an EU definition of nanomaterials for regulatory purposes. Unfortunately, in 2011, nanotechnology led to inconclusive debates in the context of the revision of Novel Food Regulation. General Food Law applies to nanofood in terms of safety requirements, and specific rules also apply to food contact materials containing nanoparticles as well as to to additives, vitamins and minerals. The EU legislator also introduced mandatory labelling in respect of products derived from nanotechnologies. The legal framework is evolving according to the so-called “incremental approach”, a governance model that creates the risk of fragmentation. But the main problem is the inconsistent definition of the terms “nanotechnology” and “nanomaterials” when looking at the enforcement of regulations and the provision of a wide range of specific tools for different nanofoods: for example the use of positive lists of authorised substances applying only to food contact materials, additives and supplements. This contribution aims to review the regulations in force in respect to nanofood and novel foods and to highlight the problems that are still unresolved. (shrink)
The struggle over genetically-engineered (GE) maize in Mexico reveals a deep conflict over the criteria used in the governance of agri-food systems. Policy debate on the topic of GE maize has become “scientized,” granting experts a high level of political authority, and narrowing the regulatory domain to matters that can be adjudicated on the basis of scientific information or “managed” by environmental experts. While scientization would seem to narrow opportunities for public participation, this study finds that Mexican activists acting “in (...) defense of maize” engage science in multiple ways, using and producing scientific knowledge as well as treating scientific discussions as a stage for launching complex social critiques. Drawing from research in science and technology studies, this article assesses the impacts and pitfalls of three tactics used by maize activists that respond to the scientization of biotechnology politics: (1) using scientific information as a resource; (2) participating in scientific research; and (3) reframing policy problems as broadly social, rather than as solely scientific or technical. The obstacles that maize activists have faced in carrying out each of these efforts indicate that despite diverse and sophisticated engagements between social movements and the scientific field, scientization remains a significant institutional barrier to democratizing agricultural governance. (shrink)
Agrarian political philosophies since ancient Greece stress the role of agriculture in forming political solidarity and civic virtue. More recent transformations suggest a way to conjoin these elements of what makes a polity politically sustainable with environmental sensitivity and literacy.
Biochemists investigating the problem of the vitamins in the early years of the twentieth century were working without an object, as such. Although they had developed a fairly elaborate idea of the character of the ‘vitamine’ and its role in metabolism, vitamins were not yet biochemical objects, but rather ‘functional ascriptions’ and ‘explanatory devices’. I suggest that an early instance of the changing status of the object of the ‘vitamins’ can be found in their stabilization, through the course of World (...) War I, as bio-political objects for the British and Allied war effort. Vitamins emerged as players, active agents, in Britain’s wartime bio-political problems of food distribution and population health and because of this they became increasingly real as bio-political objects, even prior to their isolation as bio-chemical molecules. I suggest that the materiality of our biology has agency in the development of political regimes and schemes. (shrink)
The current debate about labeling genetically engineered (GE) food focuses on food derived from GE crops, neglecting food derived from GE animals. This is not surprising, as GE animal products have not yet reached the market. Participants in the debate may also be assuming that conclusions about GE crops automatically extend to GE animals. But there are two GE animals - the Enviropig and the AquAdvantage Bred salmon - that are approaching the market, animals raise more ethical issues than plants, (...) and U.S. regulations treat animal products differently from crops. This paper therefore examines the specific question of whether there should be mandatory labeling on all food products derived from GE animals. We examine the likely regulatory pathways, salient differences between GE animals and GE crops, and relevant social science research on consumers’ attitudes. We argue that on any of the likely pathways, the relevant agency has a democratic obligation to require labeling for all GE animal food products. (shrink)
The Spirit of the Soil challenges environmentalists to think more deeply and creatively about agriculture. Paul B. Thompson identifies four `worldviews' which tackle agricultural ethics according to different philosophical priorities; productionism, stewardship, economics and holism. He examines current issues such as the use of pesticides and biotechnology from these ethical perspectives. This book achieves an open-ended account of sustainability designed to minimise hubris and help us to recapture the spirit of the soil.
Food is a basic human need and therefore a basic human right. While food output has increased to a level where there is enough food produced to feed the world, still millions starve. Using the concept of capitalist world economy as a framework, this paper provides a structural analysis of the food production and distribution system within monopoly capitalism and its implications for countries of the underdeveloped world. Focusing on the impact of a dominant world food supply system on indigenous (...) systems (particularly through the rise of science, technology, and monopoly capital), considerations relating to environmental use and food production and distribution are raised. Finally a call is made for a new agricultural ethic. (shrink)