Food ethics

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FOOD ETHICS Introduction Ethics refers to the values, principles and codes by which people live. Acting ethically means taking values seriously and asking µwhat should I do, all things considered?¶ Food and ethics are intimately connected. Whether you¶re a food producer, business, consumer or policy-maker, decisions about food involve consideration of the health and welfare of our planet, people and animals. The various issues highlight the need for ethical analysis and proper care in order to a
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  FOOD ETHICS Introduction Ethics refers to the values, principles and codes by which people live. Acting ethically meanstaking values seriously and asking µwhat should I do, all things considered?¶Food and ethics are intimately connected. Whether you¶re a food producer, business,consumer or policy-maker, decisions about food involve consideration of the health andwelfare of our planet, people and animals. The various issues highlight the need for ethicalanalysis and proper care in order to analyze and implement healthy practices to upkeep themoral regards of the animal and plant kingdom as well as protection of the environment andrefrain from disturbing the natural balance by playing GOD.Food ethics is becoming more complex than it used to be. With the recent crisis in Chinaover baby formula, the slow food movement, the debates over locally grown food, organicfood, cloned cattle, trans fats, the obesity crisis and more.Food is not just our sustenance and fuel, it also touches on our identity. How we eat, when weeat, whom we eat with and what we eat is an intrinsic part of culture and personality.The ethics of food production means different things from one country to the next. For manyAfrican and Asian countries, for example, food production revolves around such issues asmatching demand with supply, sustainability, world debt, commodity prices. For most, lifemeans living hand to mouth. For any in the `Western' world the debate is focused on humananimal and environmental airwaves sound with the day's issues--genetically modified crops,sustainable high-country farming, the economic and social stress on farm businesses andfamilies. Consumers here have the luxury of being fussy about food--but with this luxurycomes responsibility. Various statisticsGlobal hunger   ‡ 925 million people do not have enough to eat - more than the populations of USA,Canada and the European Union; (Source:FAO news release, 14 September 2010)   ‡ 98 percent of the world's hungry live in developing countries; (Source:FAO news release, 2010)   ‡ Asia and the Pacific region is home to over half the world¶s population and nearly twothirds of the world¶s hungry people; (Source:FAO news release, 2010)    ‡ Women make up a little over half of the world's population, but they account for over 60 percent of the world¶s hungry. (Source:Strengthening efforts to eradicatehunger..., ECOSOC, 2007)   ‡ 6 5 percent of the world's hungry live in only seven countries: India, China, theDemocratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. (Source:FAO news release, 2010)   Child hunger   ‡ M ore than 70 percent of the world's 146 million underweight children under age fiveyears live in just 10 countries, with more than 5 0 per cent located in South Asiaalone; (Source:Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006)   ‡ 10. 9 million children under five die in developing countries each year. M alnutritionand hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the deaths; (Source:The State of the World's Children   , UNICEF, 2007)   ‡ The cost of undernutrition to national economic development is estimated at US$ 2 0-30 billion per annum; (Source:Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition, UNICEF, 2006)   ‡ One out of four children - roughly 146 million - in developing countries areunderweight; (Source:The State of the World's Children, UNICEF, 2007)   ‡ Every year WFP feeds more than 2 0 million children in school feeding programmesin some 70 countries. In 2 00 8 , WFP fed a record 2 3 million children.(Source: WFP School Feeding Unit) Obesity Those who have a body mass index(B M I) greater than 30 are considered obeseIn the world today, close to 600 million adults are obese and 5 0 million school aged childrenare obese M enIndia ± 1.3 %, US ± 3 2 . 2 %, Canada ±  22 . 9 %, Germany ±  2 0. 5 %, China ±  2 .4 %, Australia ±  25 .6 %, M alaysia ± 10.1 %WomenIndia ±  2 . 8 %, US ± 3 5 . 5 %, Canada ±  2 3. 2 %, Germany ±  2 1.1 %, China ± 3.4 %, Australia ±  2 4 %, M alaysia ± 17.4%Key Priorities regarding the various stake holders are :  Country Men Women India 1.3 2 . 8  USA 3 2 .3 3 5 . 5  Canada 22 . 9   2 3. 2  Germany 2 0. 5   2 1.1China 2 .4 3.4Australia 25 .6 2 4 M alaysia 10.1 17.4 Ethical considerations for Businesses y   Consider whether your customers would still eat your food if they knew where it camefrom. y   V alue all your stakeholders, and consider anything that matters in its own right- a farmanimal or even an ecosystem- as a stakeholder. Ethical considerations for Consumers y   When buying food, go for unpackaged, locally bought, and as and when you need it. y   Eat organic, fairly traded fruit and vegetables, and less but better quality meat and dairyand sustainably caught fish. Ethical issues in advertising a)   P ricing of health food : Healthy food items, especially green/natural food are pricedheavily compared to the food items being produced in a normal way. The healthy fooditem being priced with a higher margin makes the product unviable for purchase by theregular public as their income level is limited. The practice discourages the purchase of healthy food by the masses.b)   Differential pricing : The various companies offer discounts for purchase of a higher quantity of the product. Also there are practices of clubbing items and offering them at adiscount. Such practices pursue the customer for purchasing more than what might beneeded. The super size meal by M cDonalds is an example of such a practice. Individualitems are priced at a premium over the combination pack.c)   Children¶s food : The food items targeted at children are made attractive such that thechildren end up buying the same by the looks. They are unaware of the health risks posed  by the consumption. As the pursuing power of children is often high, the parents end bybuying the same for their children and falling prey to the unhealthy practices of theindustry. Starting young creates brand loyalty for the organizations which will create amultiplier effect. The cognitive skills of children develop by the age of  8 to 10 years only.The behaviours of children are manipulated before this age by attracting them to theadvertisements. Such behaviours are very hard to shift once developed. Also, the pester power of the children will force the parents to buy those food items which the childdemands. This will force the parents also to consume unhealthy food as an effect of themanipulated brand loyalty of children. Profits always become a motive above the need for healthy diet. It is a usual practice to showcase children utilizing the product as developinginto a healthy individual, whereas the actual effect of the same might be highly adverse tothe health.d)   Commercials : Commercials often highlight the product offered, but do not divulgedetails regarding the ingredients. The meal might pack in more calories than required, or may have harmful contents. Often, we end up buying the same without any evaluation of the item. M any a times, we neglect to read the nutrition information and ingredients in thepackage believing them to be in order if the product is from a reputed company and hadstrong presence in the market. The commercials often neglect the respect needed to beshown to the customer to allow him to make a logical and rational decision after evaluation of the product. The selective description of the items hide negative data.Deceptive food advertising is often utilized and encouraged by the advertising companiesand the marketing organizations.e)   Eating your green : We very rarely see advertisements which showcase the need to eatgreen vegetables. Almost all advertisements showcase the easiness in eating a quick readymade meal. The masses are often unaware of the need to take a proper nutritional diet. Genetically modified food a)   Genetically modified food : Genetically modified food is the buzz word of the newcentury. The idea of being able to develop the food in the way we require it seems highlyattractive, but the ethical questions regarding the process are often subdued. Theinsertion of genetic material from one organism into another organism and its expressionin the host to confer new characteristics in the organism is being utilized widely, but isunder the scanner for various issues.
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