Virgil, Vigilance, and Voice: Agrifood Ethics in an Age of Globalization

Lawrence Busch
Publication Date: 
Some 2000 years ago, Virgil wrote The Georgics, a political tract on Roman agriculture in the form of a poem. Today, as a result of rising global trade in food and agricultural products, growing economic concentration, the merging of food and pharmacy, chronic obesity in the midst of hunger, and new disease and pest vectors, we are in need of a new Georgics that addresses the two key issues of our time: vigilance and voice.
On the one hand, vigilance must be central to a new Georgics. Enforceable standards for food safety, food quality, environmental protection, worker health and safety, sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, animal welfare, and appellations must be addressed. On the other hand, a new Georgics must increase the range of persons who have voice in the democratic governance of a new global agrifood system. New organizations and institutions will be needed to accomplish this task.