Two Papers Accepted for EurSafe 2018

Two of Simon’s papers are accepted for the 14th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics that is going to take place in at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Austria): one on recirculation aquaculture systems and another one on post-normal water ethics.

Michèle Stark (Seafood Advisory GmbH) and Simon reflected whether recirculation aquaculture systems are sustainable innovations in organic food production. EU regulations explicitly preclude recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) for aquaculture grow-out from organic certification because they are not close enough to nature (Regulation (EEC) No. 710/2009). Meanwhile, according to another EU regulation, one criterion for organic food production is its contribution to sustainable development (Regulation (EEC) No. 834/2007). Against this background, one might argue that in spite of their distance to nature RAS are innovative solutions to deal with sustainability issues in food production. The paper will deal with the claim that RAS for aquaculture could be one innovative solution to sustainability issues. In this respect, the picture is ambivalent. In the past, the organic movement (OM) has searched for innovative alternatives to industrial forms of agriculture and food production that are non-sustainable. Hence, the majority of the OM cannot warm to industrial RAS, even though one might argue that these systems comply with many of the European OM’s founding principles. While there are potential positive effects for a sustainable development, we might still regard these systems as techno-scientific solutions to social problems. This paper discusses innovation narratives related to RAS from the perspective of post-normal innovation critique. It first presents potential contribution to a more sustainable food sector. It then contrasts these arguments within critical assessments of innovation narratives for sustainable development. Finally, it discusses pitfalls that the OM needed to avoid if it wants to lobby for or against organic certification of RAS.

This paper builds on the report of the project Stakeholder-Studie ‚Kreislaufanlagen – Positionen des Ökosektors‚ funded by German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (project no. 2815OE026).

The second paper asks what water ethics can learn from engaging with post-normal science. Water ethics is an emerging field in application-oriented ethics. It reviews the normative and evaluative implications of human water practices and aims to argue for (more) justified practices. The text corpus on water ethics continues to grow, reflecting an increasing demand for moral orientation. It is time now to take stock and reflect how to address inherent tensions within this corpus, in particular regarding its practice and object. In this vein, the paper does not intend to produce a reductionist and uniform account of the diverse field of water ethics. On the contrary, it perceives itself as a critical and constructive reflection of this rich field. In order to capture the water ethical scholarship, the analysis in this paper addresses ethics primarily as a form of social activity rather than a body of different theories, which it also is. It will first unfold tensions and dividing lines within the water ethical literature. Subsequently, after introducing post-normal sciences (PNS), the paper asks how this approach might help to bridge some of the tensions in the water ethical literature. PNS challenges the dominance of scientific representations in dealing with real-world problems and constitutes an innovative mode of knowledge production for environmental governance under conditions of complexity and uncertainty. The approach of this paper helps assess the potentials and aspirations of water ethics as a field of application-oriented ethics.

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