Ethical Issues in Agriculture

Egenis Workshop by Professor Paul Thompson, Professor of Philosophy and of Zoology at the University of Toronto on 10 February 2012 http://bit.ly/H8A0Yy There has been considerable public debate about food during the past two decades. Advocates for organic agriculture, eating locally grown food and rejecting genetic modification abound. Although many of the claims made in support of positions on these topics allude to health, environmental and economic issues, the core of the debates is ethical and philosophical and for some theological (benefits, harms, risks and human hubris and usurping of nature, for example). These ethical and philosophical issues are the focus of this lecture although the empirical claims made about health, the environment and the economy will form an essential backdrop. Prof Paul Thompson holds appointments at the University of Toronto as Professor in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the Department of Philosophy. He has published extensively on evolutionary theory, population genetics, mathematical modelling in biology, theory structure in biology, philosophy of medicine, and ethics. He is the author of three books (The Moral Question, The Structure of Biological Theories, and Agro-Technology) and he edited Issues in Evolutionary Ethics. He has held numerous consulting positions with governments and industry. Currently he is a member of the Research Integrity Committee and the Standing Committee on Ethics of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and was recently a member of The Expert Panel on Biodiversity sponsored by Council of Canadian Academies. He is Past President, and a director, of the Green Door Alliance Inc. (a registered charity, dedicated to preserving agricultural land). He has worked for many years on agricultural capacity and poverty relief in Kenya through Rural Outreach Program (http://www.ropkenya.org/)