Ethics might not be the first thing you think of when you think of agriculture, but there are quite a few ethics issues facing the agricultural industry. From the growing of food to questionable actions in the name of staying competitive, ethics comes up often.
Of course, there are ways to improve agricultural ethics. It just means doing what’s right instead of just focusing on what’s most profitable.
1. Safety Of Food
This is probably the one the general public knows the most about. It involves food that may be contaminated anywhere during the process. This includes from the growing phase to when it’s put out for the public to buy. Taking shortcuts or using questionable additives makes food unsafe. However, recalls aren’t uncommon, especially with produce. In fact, food recalls are up by 10% since 2013.
2. Treatment Of Animals
Next is the unethical treatment of animals. This is a fight that’s existed for generations; but, it’s still not solved. Many have a difficult time seeing this as an actual ethics issue facing the agricultural industry. After all, if animals are just being used as a food source, why treat them well? Of course, this also includes using steroids and hormones to boost growth and production. However, unethical treatment leads to lower quality products, meaning it’s worth investing to treat animals better.
3. Use Of Chemicals
The use of pesticides and other chemicals has been an ongoing debate. Farmers want to use chemicals to reduce pests and increase production. However, those same chemicals have been known to cause health issues. Plus, pesticides are killing off native species, such as the honeybees that help with pollination.
4. Farm Management
Farm management involves the unethical treatment of farmworkers and the overall management of the farm itself. In the agricultural industry, there are rules to be followed regarding the size of a farm and their market shares. Often times, farm workers deal with terrible and even dangerous conditions, yet are underpaid and may not even have health insurance.
An issue that’s just begun to come to light, at least for the general public, is sustainability. Agricultural businesses that ruin the land, have chemical run-off in local water sources and inadvertently harm wildlife don’t help to sustain the business or the environment. Without a healthy environment, the future of food production is at risk, especially as populations continue to rise.
6. Trade Agreements
Growing and raising food is one thing, but selling it is another. Ethics issues are all too common when it comes to trade agreements in the agricultural industry. Bribes to sell more or to ensure businesses pick one farm over another do happen. Many trade rules are questionable and push out smaller businesses that may actually have more to offer.
7. Sharing Of Information
While it’s not the last ethics issue facing the agricultural industry, the sharing of information is a problem. For instance, warning a fellow farmer of a parasite or pest issue versus letting it ruin their farm too is unethical. Sharing information to help each other helps the entire industry and the world as a whole.
Stopping these ethics issues involves reporting them. Anonymous hotlines help everyone in the industry report unethical behavior to ensure a better industry overall.