Food Ethics Council member Geoff Tansey has recently been to Turkey, revisiting some old colleagues that he first met in the late 1970’s. Back then, Geoff was working on a project to establish an agricultural extension and communications centre at Ege (Aegean) University in Izmir.

This year he was invited back to Turkey by an old colleague, Prof Cemal Talug, whose new project aims to get to grips with fundamental questions about what makes a fair food system. Geoff visited as a representative of the Food Ethics Council, to share our experience and materials to help develop a new EU funded Agriculture and Food Ethics project – TARGET, Tarim ve Gida Etigi Projesi.

As a lifelong writer and campaigner for fair food systems, Geoff’s well placed to help TARGET think through some critical ethical questions facing food and farming today. What’s fair? What responsibilities do we have to future generations, weaker citizens or those of other countries? Is the science we are doing and are the technologies developing, even if sound, addressing the right questions? Are the rewards fairly distributed, do some have an unfair say in decisions? Does doing one thing undermine the opportunities for others, for animals, to act as they’d wish or reduce biodiversity?

Who’s involved?
The FEC was founded in 1998, a year before EURSAFE – The European Society for Agriculture and Food Ethics. Its director, Matthias Kaiser from the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and Humanities, University of Bergen, Norway is another European Associate supporting the project, alongside philosopher Bart Gremmen, Professor, Ethics in Life Sciences and ‘embedded ethicist’ at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands.

Together, Geoff, Matthias and Bart met with the small group developing the project, led by Prof Neyyire Yasemin Yalim, chair of the Turkish Bioethics Association, and Prof. Cemal Talug, who is former rector and dean of agriculture at Ankara University, Turkey’s oldest University.

Why the Food Ethics Council?
It was chance that brought Geoff and Cemal back together after so many years. Cemal had been researching food ethics and had come across our website, where he spotted his old friend and colleague’s name. 

TARGET was quick to approach FEC to see whether we would be interested in becoming an associate of the project. Professor Neyyire Yasemin Yalim explains that FEC was the very first institution they encountered when they started thinking about setting up a project on agriculture and food ethics. The team found FEC’s publications and website crucial in providing the information that was essential for project preparation. Our work’s accessibility was key, as Yasemin explained: “FEC’s publications were very useful as they were created for different audience groups with various information levels. FEC’s open access materials were also invaluable.”

Where next?

The ethics of food and agriculture is a new subject in Turkey. The project’s ambitious plans include a survey, education and training in key ethical concerns for food and agricultural professionals in Turkey during its 15 months’ duration. Its longer terms aim is to influence Turkish food and farming through the establishment of a new NGO – the Turkish Agricultural and Food Ethics Association. In the interests of food ethics everywhere, we’re right behind them – and we look forward to many years of collaborating for fair food systems.

You can see Geoff’s blog about his visit together with a link to a TV programme on it here
Geoff curates the Food Systems Academy, an open access resource of audio and visual talks about food systems.