Commentary: Institutionalizing Agricultural Ethics

Zimdahl, Robert L. 2023. "Commentary: Institutionalizing Agricultural Ethics." Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development 20(2): 103-108.


When something is institutionalized, it is established as a convention or norm of an organization or culture. Most professional disciplines have institutionalized and published their professional ethical expectations. Universities routinely include ethical study in the curriculum for medicine, law, business, and the environment. The agricultural science curriculum lacks consideration and study of the effects of agriculture’s ethical dilemmas on society. Moreover, agriculture, the essential human activity and the most widespread human interaction with the environment, needs a defined moral foundation. Ethics has not been institutionalized in US land-grant universities with agricultural colleges, 2 colleges of agriculture in other countries, agricultural professional organizations, or the agribusiness industry. That is not to say there are no professional ethical standards.

Examining agriculture’s ethical base and the reasons for it is an exercise in reason to find where the weight of reason rests (Rachels and Rachels 2007). Many assume agriculture has had an adequate ethical foundation. The assumption is not questioned. There has been too little investigation and too little critical thinking about the lack of and need for an explicit ethical foundation.

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Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD)
1656-4383 (print);   2599-3879 (online)
Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)
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