David Fraser, CM, PhD is Professor in the Animal Welfare Program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He participated in the Feeding the World, Ethically meeting held in Ranco, Italy.  Here is a brief interview as part of the Perspectives on Global Food Ethics blog series.


Can you briefly describe your related background and interest in food security?


My career-long focus has been on animal welfare and other ethical issues raised by our use of animals, especially in food production. I see balancing animal-source and other foods as a key issue for maintaining the world’s food supply.


In your opinion, what are the most pressing ethical issues in your domain related to global food security?


The amount of meat produced in the world hits a new record level every year, driven largely by the fact that people tend to consume more meat when they become more prosperous.  Meat consumption per person in the wealthy nations now far exceeds amounts that contribute positively to human health and nutrition, whereas increased access to animal-source foods could greatly improve nutrition in poor countries.


Can you share one issue or anecdote from the Feeding the World, Ethically meeting in Ranco that may have changed your perception on one ethical problem within food and nutrition security?


The meeting nicely brought out the extreme diversity in global food production. For example, in many countries hundreds of millions of relatively poor people depend on producing animal-source foods for their livelihood, while at the same time much animal production in the industrialized nations is now controlled by a relatively small number of producers and processors.  Issues such as animal welfare need very different solutions in these different contexts.


What is your hope for making progress on this ethical problem?


To date, a lot of the ethical discussion about the production and consumption of animal-source foods has been superficial. Critics promote such blanket ideas as universal vegetarianism, while defenders of the status quo claim that current practices are necessary to “feed the world”.  I am cautiously optimistic that we are now seeing a new generation of critics and scientists who will understand the diverse context of global food production and create different and workable solutions for the very different situations that exist.



Global Food Ethics Project: Feeding the World Fairly

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David Fraser
Global Food Ethics

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