Turks set to tackle #agriculture and #food #ethics

Profs Talug, Yalim and Aksoy discuss this new project. The 4 e’s logo represents etik (ethics), ekoloji (ecology), ekmek (bread) and emek (work)

What’s fair? What responsibilities do we have to future generations, weaker citizens or those of other countries? Are the science we are doing and technologies developing, even if sound, addressing the right questions? Are the rewards fairly distributed, do some have an unfair say in decisions? Does doing one thing undermine the opportunities for others, for animals, to act as they’d wish or reduce biodiversity? These are just a few of the many ethical questions facing us in food and farming today.

Last week, I was in Ankara, Turkey, where a new project aims to get to grips with these and other questions important not just for Turkey’s future but all our futures. I was there as a member of the Food Ethics Council (FEC) in the UK to share our experience and materials to help in the development a new EU-funded Agriculture and Food Ethics Project – TARGET, Tarim ve Gida Etigi Projesi.

The city has been transformed since I worked there 30 Years ago on TUYAP – the Agricultural Extension and AppIied Research Project. This visit I could hardly recognise much of it. Still recognisable though was Prof Cemal Talug, whom I first got to know in the late 1970s when I helped in the establishment of an agricultural extension and communications centre at Ege (Aegean) University. It was a surprise e- mail in October 2014 from him that led to me being there as a representative of the Food Ethics Council, which I’ve been a member of since 2000 and trustee since 2003.

The FEC was founded in 1998, a year before EURSAFE – The European Society for Agriculture and Food Ethics. It’s director, Matthias Kaiser from the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and Humanities, University of Bergen, Norway was also there along with philosopher Bart Gremmen  Professor, Ethics in Life Sciences and ’embedded ethicist’ at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. We are the three European Associates supporting the project and we met with the small group developing the project, led by Prof Neyyire Yasemin Yalim, chair of the Turkish Bioethics Association, and Prof. Cemal Talug former rector and dean of agriculture at Ankara University, Turkey’s oldest University.

It has ambitious plans for a survey, education and training in key ethical concerns for food and agricultural professional in Turkey during its 15 months duration but much longer terms plans to influence Turkish food and farming through the establishment of a new NGO – the Turkish Agricultural and Food Ethics Association.

Much to our surprise, Prof Talug had arranged for his three foreign visitors to take part in a live 1.5 hour discussion on Bereket TV – a specialist TV channel devoted to farming – about the project. You can see the programme on YouTube here. This led to a further interview with the national news agency during a conference for some key interested parties in the afternoon.

About geofftansey

I curate the Food Systems Academy, a free, on-line, open education resource to transform our food systems. I am also a member of the Food Ethics Council and chaired the Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty, which reported in 2015.
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