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Foot and Mouth Disease and British agriculture: ethics in a crisis

By B. Mepham

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The 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK has had widespread adverse effects on the farming community, the tourist industry, millions of farm animals, the environment, and citizens' quality of life. This report summarizes the course of the epidemic and then questions the ethical validity of the procedure chosen to eradicate the disease, namely, the slaughter of millions of animals. It is argued that the utilitarian basis of the mass slaughter programme is unjustified even in its own terms, and that respect for certain deontological principles merits increased attention in public policy. The long-term interests of UK citizens, the viability of British farming, and the conservation of the countryside all depend on urgent, critical decisions that should be informed by a broader conception of the role of ethics in agriculture.

Date 2001
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 14
Issue 3
Pages 339-347
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1023/A:1012298010842
Language English
Author Address Centre for Applied Bioethics, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal welfare
  4. British Isles
  5. Commonwealth of Nations
  6. Destruction of animals
  7. Developed countries
  8. Epidemiology
  9. Ethics
  10. Europe
  11. Foot-and-mouth disease
  12. Great Britain
  13. OECD countries
  14. pathogens
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Resistance and Immunity
  17. Social psychology and social anthropology
  18. United Kingdom
  19. vaccination
  1. peer-reviewed