, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 4–8 | Cite as

The Ethics of Modern Agriculture

  • Robert Paarlberg

To evaluate the ethics of modern agriculture we must first ask, “Compared to what alternative?” Abandoning agriculture entirely — returning to hunting and gathering — is not a viable alternative, nor is it useful to imagine everyone gardening their own food, or buying their own food directly from local farmers, although this vision is fancifully promoted now among some elite circles in the United States. A more useful comparison would be between the conventional modern agriculture of today, incorporating all of the productivity enhancements that modern science can provide, versus a pre-modern antecedent that lacked those enhancements, versus a third method of farming – organic farming — that chooses not to incorporate several of those enhancements (e.g., no synthetic fertilizers, no synthetic pesticides, and no genetically engineered crops). When evaluating the ethics of modern conventional versus pre-modern conventional versus organic farming, we must also draw distinctions between...


Organic Farming Green Revolution Modern Agriculture Environmental Harm Utilitarian Perspective 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceWellesley CollegeWellesleyUSA

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