Safety Versus Productivity

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A Video on the Potential trade-off between Productivity and Safety

The authors concern is that food safety could be sacrificed to make the food system more productive. 

YouTube Video

Further Discussion

Economics research has examined a trade-off between money and safety.   This is usually what money people are willing to pay for additional food safety. 

There is a more interesting possible trade-off between productivity and safety.  The question is whether consumers want more productivity, from agriculture and the food system, as this may lead to less food safety. 

BSE could have been caused, ultimately, by trying to make livestock more productive.  The aim would be to produce more meat or milk.  One of the main problems here is that the public was hardly involved in the decision-making to intensify agriculture. This is because agriculture would have barely featured in UK election debates.  The public seemed to have little control over research experiments on farm animals. 

The possible introduction of GM Food, in the United Kingdom, with the aim of making the food system more productive could come at the expense of safety.  In 2011, this remains to be seen. 

Intensive farming, including the development of super dairy cows, has been criticised for inadequate livestock conditions.  It is possible that poor animal welfare standards could manifest themselves in food safety problems later on.

The important article which refers to 'Super Cows' is available from the Guardian here