Ethics in Agriculture: Where Are We and Where Should We Be Going?

  • Robert L. ZimdahlEmail author
  • Thomas O. Holtzer


Agriculture’s dominant focus is feeding the human population. From an ethical perspective, this is clearly very positive, but it does not absolve agriculture from critical, ethical examination of the totality of agriculture’s effects. To earn the public’s ongoing support, agriculture must be trusted to vigilantly examine its full range of effects and be sure they align with the highest ethical values. Agriculture’s record is enviable in the science and technology associated with its primary ethical concern, but we need to do more to address the broader ethical issues that are the public’s increasing concern. The entire agricultural community needs to become engaged in the discussion. The classroom offers an effective starting place. Yet, curricular offerings (focusing on ethical principles, agricultural applications, and expectations of agricultural professionals) are rarely available at public universities. Opportunity for ethics study should become a key component of agricultural education.


Agriculture Classes Ethics Food system Survey Values 


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  2. Zimdahl, R. L., & Holtzer, T. O. (2016). The ethical values in the U.S. agricultural and food system. Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 29, 549–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professors Emeriti, Department of Bioagricultural SciencesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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