As the scientific community begins to give higher priority to the moral dimensions of economic and farming development, an expert panel set up by the United Nations agricultural agency met in Rome today to examine ethical issues related to globalization and agricultural intensification.
The Panel of Eminent Experts, established in 2000 by Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to advise the agency on key ethical issues, is holding its second session to consider two concept papers, "Ethics and Globalization of Food and Agriculture" and "The Ethics of Sustainable Agricultural Intensification."
According to FAO, ethical challenges for food and agriculture posed by the process of globalization include loss of cultural identity and diversity and accelerated loss of biodiversity and degradation of natural resources. In certain circumstances, globalization may also lead to the persistence of food insecurity and poverty in rural communities and may intensify clashes of interests between poor and rich countries.
As for sustainable agricultural intensification, the FAO concept paper suggests that ethical considerations must be taken into account when attempting to reconcile the need for more intensive production systems, with the need to protect the environment."Sustainable intensification will require development paths that achieve greater productivity without dependency on non-renewable resources and that respect the integrity of the global biosphere," the paper says.