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The impact of BSE and FMD on ethics and democratic process. (Special issue: Farm animal diseases in context)

By J. Murphy-Lawless

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The recent crises of BSE and FMD in the United Kingdom have revealed widespread concerns on the part of farmers and consumers about government regulations and handling of animal movements, animal welfare, and food safety. Both crises raised issues of government accountability and the lack of openness in public debate. The issues of democratic process and decision-making were especially strong in relation to the mass slaughter policy of the government to control FMD. This article explores public disquiet about these matters, as expressed through the reports of two public inquiries, and the perceived links between government decision-making and the needs of global agribusiness, to the detriment of family farms and animal welfare. In light of the growing evidence about the environmental and economic costs of agribusiness, the argument is made that strong programs of citizen action, such as the Devon Foot and Mouth Inquiry, that are grounded in an ethical stance on animal welfare can challenge the perspectives of central governments about concepts of cost, efficiency, and safety in agriculture.

Date 2004
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 17
Issue 4/5
Pages 385-403
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
Language English
Author Address School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, Trinity College Dublin, D'Olier Street, Dublin, 2, Irish Republic.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Accountability
  2. Agriculture
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
  6. British Isles
  7. Choice
  8. Commonwealth of Nations
  9. Communities
  10. Decision making
  11. Democracy
  12. Destruction of animals
  13. Developed countries
  14. Diseases
  15. Epidemiology
  16. Ethics
  17. Europe
  18. Foot-and-mouth disease
  19. Globalization
  20. Government
  21. Great Britain
  22. Mad cow disease
  23. OECD countries
  24. pathogens
  25. peer-reviewed
  26. Policy and Planning
  27. Social psychology and social anthropology
  28. United Kingdom
  1. peer-reviewed