Good food


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Good food

  1. 1. Good Food?A Philosophical Stance on Today’s Agriculture Paul B. Thompson W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural Food and Community Ethics Michigan State University
  2. 2. FAR m ING
  3. 3. FAR T ING
  4. 4. Philosophy of Agriculture
  5. 5. Philosophy of AgricultureAgriculture is just another sector of our industrial economy. 1. Play by the rules of the industrial economy. 2. Be competitive and efficient.
  6. 6. Food Safety WorkerPollution Rights 1. Play by the rules of the Production should not cause harm to third parties. industrial economy. Animals Environment
  7. 7. 1. More room 2. But especiallyin the market Lower prices good for thebasket for poor, who spendconsumption of for food and a larger share onnon food goods. fiber. food. 2. Be competitive and efficient.
  8. 8. Supply curve reflects average production costsPrice for the industry… Yield enhancing agricultural technologies Quantity (seeds, fertilizer) lower production cost… But not every producer adopts the new technology The trend to at the same time…. fewer but larger Consumers benefit. Farmers “run farms. harder” to stay in the same place. The Economic Treadmill
  9. 9. The Agronomic TreadmillThe Solution Becomes the Problem
  10. 10. Industrial Philosophy of Good Food When each sector of the industrial economy is efficient and plays by the rules… … we have no basis for complaint. Agriculture Distribution Sector Processing Retail Sector Sector
  11. 11. Agrarian Philosophies of how But this is not always Agriculture Americans have thought about agriculture…Cultivators of the earth are the mostvaluable citizens. They are the mostvigorous, the most independent, themost virtuous, and they are tied totheir country and wedded to its libertyand interests by the most lastingbands
  12. 12. The Ancient WorldGreece Egypt
  13. 13. This form of life gives rise to the ideals ofcitizenship, solidarity and politicalcommunity, and to the virtues ofloyalty, courage and friendship… on the form …and it all dependsof agriculture.
  14. 14. Entrepreneurship Nutrition and Fitness Opportunity Self-RelianceFiscal Responsibility Comprehension Multifunctional Personal & CitizenshipFamily Integrative Social Capabilities Stewardship Community Sense of Place Solidarity
  15. 15. Economic Sustainability Multifunctional Personal & Integrative Social CapabilitiesEnvironmental Sustainability Social Sustainability
  16. 16. …better than Jefferson foraddressing questions of risk
  17. 17. Seeds that don’t reproduce… …NOT unique to biotechnology …most farmers buy seeds every year …genetically engineered infertility is NOT in use anywhere in the world…because it is widely recognized that it would be unethical to expose poor farmers who do save seed to that risk
  18. 18. But bovine growth hormone is a longer and more complex story…Hormones… …mainly there because downstream actors in the industrial supply chain want a particular product quality …we mainly know about this because European producers used the “hormone free” claim to differentiate their product and keep US meat products out of the European market
  19. 19. Biotechnology (GMOs)……transgenic crops have reduced environmental impact from pesticides …but they may be just the next stage on the agronomic treadmill…a biotechnology vs. organics debate is NOT the most useful way to think about good food
  20. 20.