“Consent and Consensus in Policies Related to Food – Five Core Values”
Author: Röcklinsberg, Helena
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Volume 19, Number 3, June 2006 , pp. 285-299(15)
Abstract:When formulating a policy related to food in a heterogeneous context within a nation or between nations, oppositional positions are more or less explicit, but always have to be overcome. It is interesting to note, though, that such elements as culture and religion have seldom been the focus in discussions about methods of decision-making in food policy. To handle discrepancies between oppositional positions, one solution is to narrow differences between partners, another to accept one partner or position as dominant. In a solid and lasting policy, any of these options has to be agreed upon by all the partners involved. In this article, I argue that context sensitivity and a shared picture of the situation are necessary bases for a solid food policy. Two methods for policy discussion are elaborated on and religious slaughter is given as an example of a heterogeneous setting with strongly diverging ideals. Several aspects have to be respected from the outset, such as culture, religion, and value systems. This condition is partly met in a model of informed consent and in a consensus model. The informed consent model is regarded as insufficient, because it lacks both methods of dealing with hierarchies and the goal of finding a shared and nuanced picture of the situation. A consensus model meets these tasks but might on the other hand, among other things, be too difficult to follow and to administer. For both models, some difficulties with justification of decisions arise. Five essential elements emanating from a combination of these models are suggested as a basis for a decision process regarding food policies: respect for each discussion partner, context sensitivity, respect for arguments including emotions, a shared picture of the situation, and finally relating theory and practice.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2006-06-01