”Want in the midst of plenty”: the German Ethics Council addresses the issue of food and nutrition

At its meeting on 24 July 2008, the German Ethics Council held a wide-ranging debate on ”The ethical aspects of food and nutrition”.

The introductory presentation was given by Dr Christine Eichhorn and Professor Eckhard Nagel, of Bayreuth University's Department of Healthcare Management and Health Sciences. After outlining the fundamentals of the public debate on food and nutrition, the speakers turned to the ethical discourse on three different facets of the issue. Under the heading of "Want in the midst of plenty", the principal concerns were the right to adequate nutrition, the equitable distribution of food and the question of responsibility for the undesirable state of affairs that had become evident in many quarters. Global aspects of food security and the interaction between environmental, economic and social issues were then addressed in the topic "Food as the basis of freedom and justice". The third facet of the problem related to the ethical conditions applicable to artificial feeding.

The German Ethics Council decided to begin with the first group of issues. To this end it will establish a dedicated working party to lay down a structure for the debate and will determine the next steps to be taken when it meets in September. The intention at present is both to address the subject within the Council itself and to hold a public meeting in the autumn.