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Joshua JacksonAgricultural EthicsMaarten J. Chrispeels and Dina F. MandoliAuthor Notes: Maarten Chrispeels graduated from the University of Illinois with a PhD in Agronomy. He works at UCSD and studies plant biochemistry there. Dina Mandoli is a part of the Botany department at the University of Washington, and has published a couple of articles dealing with the subject of plants. They both have great knowledge on the science side of the issue, but may lack some knowledge about the ethical side.
Content Notes: The authors believe that anyone who works in agriculture believes they are on high moralground, simply because their job is to feed the people of the world. This is an interesting point that puts into perspective why this is an important topic.“Society’s values are not immutable but change over time.” When talking about ethics, this is also an important idea to understand; something that may have been morally right in the past, may not be something that is morally right now.The problem with a lot of environmental issues is that there is not a simple fix. Something that may seem like a benefit, may have negative impacts elsewhere. This means there is not one right solution.Using utilitarian ethics, producing a lot of food quickly would be the best course of action, since this produces the most good. However, this is a problem because it neglects to think about the consequences of choosing this route. The goal of agriculture for the past years has been to supply a lot of food to the consumers for the cheapest price. From a consumer stand point, this is a great idea, more food and cheaper prices. However, how about the workers that get paid little to nothing for their work to get the food into the consumers hand?Our agricultural practices also have environmental impacts that are not added into the cost of the produce: water usage, soil usage, air pollution, and water pollution just to name a few. But how would we add costs like this into a dollar amount?There is such a thing as sustainable farming, in which the farmers watch and care for the environment, while still providing food for the consumers. However, this will raise the cost of food that has been prepared this way.If sustainable farming is a thing, and so many people want to save the environment, why do we not switch? A big reason is the poor, since low priced produce benefits them, since they are able to buy and consume food for a cheap price. Cheap food also benefits those in developing countries, since we can export food to them,and still have the price amount be relatively cheap. Subsides are crucial to the farmers who are growing all of this food, since in some cases, it is where they make most of their money. A way to start growing agriculture sustainablywould be to make subsidies that praise the growth of sustainably grown produce.