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Sociology Assignment Question

You are required to select one of the three general topics listed below and clearly define one focused and specific ethical question (ie as you did in assignments 1 and 2 in this unit).

The three general topics are stated following.

  1. The responsibility of individual consumers with regards their consumption behaviour given the reality of anthropogenic climate change.
  2. The global production of food: security, quality and equity.
  3. The obligation of economically developed nations to alleviate extreme poverty in foreign countries.

Required tasks:

  1. Clearly define one ethical problem drawn from one of the three general topics provided above and provide a brief explanation as to why your chosen ethical problem is important. (10 marks)
  2. Identify academic, peer-reviewed, researched and referenced facts and key assumptions which are relevant to your analysis of the ethical problem. Fully reference each fact. (30 marks)
  3. Analyse the ethical problem using act utilitarianism, identifying all relevant consequences. Compare negative versus positive consequences and assess whether net utility will rise or fall as a result of the ethical act being examined. Provide a clear ethical discussion and conclusion. (30 marks)
  4. Discuss the relevance of the general topic (ie one of the three general topics identified above) which you chose (do not focus on your specific ethical problem) to the objective of sustainability, clearly identifying relevant environmental, social, cultural and economic dimensions. (30 marks)

Sociology Assignment Solution

a. Ethical Problem in Global Food Production – “Achieving Dietary Norms at the Expense of Sustainability”

Globally, countries encounter one of the major challenges to determine a secure source of food that is sufficient and nutritious for all people and at the same time adhering to environmental sustainability (JessicaFanzo 2015). Though the right to food is a constitutional mandate of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), food security is prone to various issues ranging from exploitation of nature, unequal distribution of food, varied conception related to food intake, poverty and hunger (Bhardwaj et al. 2003). Worldwide food production is not considered to be supportive of conserving natural resources. Global food production reflects the dietary pattern and standard of living of the population. This is prone to changes due to macroeconomic factors such as globalization and urbanization. This has given rise to the need to manage biological and agricultural diversity along with economic efficiency to maintain an equitable food production system (JessicaFanzo 2015). In this backdrop, this report focuses on challenges arising from achieving quality diets. This report details how the changes in food consumption, especially the growth in meat consumption when compared to plant consumption, have an adverse impact on the environment and animal health. The key ethical problem identified is “achieving quality diets at the expense of sustainability”.

Animal source foods form a major part of diets due to the presence of essential nutrients when compared to plant source food. The intake of an increased proportion of meat has several health benefits which outweigh the complications associated with it. This resultant uptake in production has several ethical considerations. The primary issue is to keep up with the rising demand, which has an impact on climatic and health conditions (World Bank 2010). For instance, food production from an animal is resource-intensive and also one of the major sources of greenhouse gases in the agricultural sector (Tilman et al. 2002). Higher demand has developed ethical issues to ensure animal welfare and restrict the strain on the environment (World Society for the Protection of Animals 20121). As animals are fed plants, an ethical dilemma arises whether to feed the people to fend off hunger or feed animals (Plannthin 2016).

If there is a higher acceptance among consumers towards high-value foods, there is an imbalance prevailing currently in terms of distribution and accessibility (Lucia Reisch 2013). Government and international agencies are investing in enhancing the value chain of animal source foods and considering less resource intensive alternative sources to meet the nutritional gap. Other concerns that give rise to the identified ethical problem are animal welfare, changing consumer preferences and tastes and social influence (Barcellos, Grunert & Scholderer 2011). According to experts, over generations, a specific lifestyle has been endorsed in developed countries, and there is an expectation among the people to include animal-based food in their diet (Kearney 2010). The developing countries are in pursuit of a similar eating habit, increasing the demand for animal products. Alternative sources such as insects and molluscs are not accepted universally as a dietary ingredient and often stigmatized in several societies (House 2016). The ethical concerns related to the equitable access of foods that offer social status and contentment is highly associated with the high-value foods adopted as part of the diet.

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