Food Ethics 3 (1-2):109-123 (2019)

Franck Meijboom
Utrecht University
Veterinarians play an essential role in the animal-based food chain. They are professionally responsible for the health of farm animals to secure food safety and public health. In the last decades, food scandals and zoonotic disease outbreaks have shown how much animal and human health are entangled. Therefore, the concept of One Health is broadly promoted within veterinary medicine. The profession embraces this idea that the health of humans, animals and the environment is inextricably linked and supports the related call for transdisciplinary collaboration. Especially in zoonotic disease control, the benefits of the cooperation between veterinarians and human doctors seem evident. However, applying a One Health approach also makes moral problems explicit. For instance, how should veterinarians deal with situations in which measures to protect public health negatively affect animal health? This creates a conflict of professional responsibilities. To deal with such moral problems and to strengthen the veterinarian’s position, the starting point is a holistic perspective on One Health. We will argue for an ‘encapsulated health’ argument: the best way to safeguard human health is to promote the health of animals and the environment. This also holds for the responsibility of the veterinary profession: to serve public health, the central responsibility of veterinarians should be to be experts in animal health and welfare. We elaborate this point by using a case study on the role of the veterinary profession in antimicrobial resistance policies in the Netherlands.
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DOI 10.1007/s41055-019-00034-8
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