Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 245–253 | Cite as

Food Safety and Ethics: The Interplay between Science and Values

  • Karsten Klint Jensen
  • Peter Sandøe


The general public in Europe seems tohave lost its confidence in food safety. Theremedy for this, as proposed by the Commissionof the EU, is a scientific rearmament. Thequestion, however, is whether more science willbe able to overturn the public distrust.Present experience seems to suggest thecontrary, because there is widespread distrustin the science-based governmental controlsystems. The answer to this problem is thecreation of an independent scientificFood Authority. However, we argue thatindependent scientific advice alone is unlikelyto re-establish public confidence. It is muchmore important to make the scientific advicetransparent, i.e., to state explicitlythe factual and normative premises on which itis based. Risk assessments are based on arather narrow, but well-defined notion of risk.However, the public is concerned with a broadervalue context that comprises both benefits andrisks. Transparency and understanding of thepublic's perception of food risks is anecessary first step in establishing theurgently required public dialogue about thecomplex value questions involved in foodproduction.

risk assessment risk management risk communication scientific advice value judgments 


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  4. Southwood, Report of the Working Party on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, Department of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food (1989). KARSTEN KLINT JENSEN Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment Department of Education, Philosophy and Rhetoric University of Copenhagen Njalsgadevn80 DK-2300 Copenhagen S. Denmark E-mail: PETER SANDØE Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment Department of Animal Science and Animal Health Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University Groennegaardsvej 8 DK-1870 Frederiksberg C. Denmark E-mail: Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karsten Klint Jensen
    • 1
  • Peter Sandøe
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, Department of Education, Philosophy and RhetoricUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark, E-mail
  2. 2.Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, Department of Animal Science and Animal HealthRoyal Veterinary and Agricultural UniversityFrederiksberg CDenmark, E-mail

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