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Professionals in Food Chains: Ethics, Roles and Responsibilities

13th - 16th June 2018 | Messerli Research Institute, Vienna

The 14th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics took place in 2018 at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria. In total, we could welcome 129 participants from various disciplines and professional backgrounds.  Thereby, 84 scientific contributions conduce to the success of the congress, which were presented in form of oral or poster presentations and published in a proceedings book. The proceedings book includes papers from a broad range of disciplines, including philosophy, agricultural science, law, economics, and sociology and was edited by Svenja Springer and Herwig Grimm as the heads of the organizing team. Further, eight scholars and PhD-students from south-east European countries received a scholarship to enable their participation in the congress.

Topics of the congress

The EurSafe 2018 Congress in Vienna focused on the role of professionals and professions in the food chain. Within the public debate surrounding food it is often argued that the key to meeting current challenges is changing consumer behaviour.

Professionals and practitioners like farmers, retailers, veterinarians, or researchers are only in the limelight when the media report on so called “food scandals”. To better understand and get to grips with current and future problems in the food chain, it is essential that we pay greater attention to the role and position of professionals. Different expectations and interests lead to challenging and complex situations for all parties trying to understand the nature of the problems. Additionally, participating players act in different areas of responsibility and are subject to professional values and constructions of virtues, as well as expectations about their expertise.

Therefore, the prominent questions addressed during the congress were: What are the main ethical challenges for the professionals in the food chain? Who within this complex field holds responsibility for emerging issues? What does it mean for the food-related professions to work in a field of immense social tension? Which virtues are necessary to do a proper job? 

Plenary speaker

Four well-established researchers contributed with interesting keynote lectures to the 14th EurSafe congress.

In the first keynote lecture, Daniela Battaglia (Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.) talked about the role of the IAEA and FAO in supporting professionals in food chains. The ethicist Vincent Blok (Social Sciences Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands) spoke about technocratic management in the food chain and presented aspects of a new professionalism in the Anthropocene. Stephen May (Royal Veterinary College, University of London, United Kingdom), who is mainly working in the field of veterinary medicine and veterinary medical ethics focused on the value of the professional regulatory model and how this is related to a societal protection. In the final keynote lecture, the philosopher Clare Palmer (Department of Philosophy, Texas A&M University, USA) addressed the question whether we should help wild animals suffering from negative impacts from climate change.


We are grateful to the following sponsors, who have contributed to the success of the congress, especially through their financial support:

  • EurSafe – European Society of Agricultural and Food Ethics
  • Messerli Research Institute
  • Messerli Foundation
  • University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
  • University of Vienna
  • Wageningen Academic Publishers
  • Former Austrian Ministry of Health and Women’s Affair
  • Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research
  • Stadt Wien
  • Austrian Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons
  • NÖ Tiergesundheitsdienst