Ethics in food and agriculture: new publication series


FAO has released the first two publications in a new series dedicated to ethics in food and agriculture.

Ethical issues in food and agriculture introduces ethical questions related to FAO's mandate, such as: What is the value of food? What is the value of human health? What is the value of nature and natural resources? These questions and ethical concerns are central to the debate about the future.

The publication discusses the questions and describes a vision for building a more equitable and ethical food and agriculture system based on three global goals: improved well-being, protection of the environment and improved public health. It also calls for action from individuals, states, corporations and international organizations (for the publication in pdf - part one,(1.1mb) part two (928kb)).

The second publication, Genetically modified organisms, consumers, food safety and the environment, aims to provide the current knowledge about genetically engineered products in relation to consumers, including food safety, protection of health and environmental conservation.

The publication seeks to explore from an ethical perspective the claims being made in the ongoing debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The main objective is to highlight the role of ethical considerations in food and agriculture, both in view of discussions on GMOs and in relation to food safety and the environment. Issues discussed include ownership of the necessary tools to produce GMOs, potential consequences of their use and undesirable effects that could result from their application, both now and in the future.

The publication also highlights certain actions for consideration by the international community and the public. It advocates the participation of all stakeholders in making decisions regarding GMOs. It also points out that modern biotechnology, if appropriately developed, could offer new and broad potential for contributing to food security. But it is not possible to make sweeping generalizations about GMOs, the publication finds, as each application must be fully and individually analysed (for the publication in pdf - part one, (1.1mb) part two (576kb)).

Sales information: Each of the two publications is available for US$ 16. Order through the FAO publications internet page, by e-mail ( or from FAO Sales and Marketing Group, Publishing and Multimedia Service, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100, Rome, Italy.

3 May 2001

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©FAO, 2001