Alongside keynotes and panel discussions, there will be a sequence of pre-conference workshops on the afternoon of Wednesday, 23. June 2021. The aim of these workshop sessions is to provide space for exchange between participants and the opportunity to combine theoretical knowledge with examples and case-studies. The topics and abstracts are listed below.

Workshop session 1 (14:30 - 16:00)
  • How can ethics help? Support tools for decision-making on life and death in veterinary practices

    End-of-life decisions for animal patients can be challenging for veterinary professionals and other stakeholders involved. What is already a challenge in theory is even more so in practice where the (social) context of the decision to be made is crucial.
    Different decision-making tools and guidelines have been developed that aim to support veterinarians with handling end-of-life decision-making processes and with arriving at ethical decisions. However, there is also evidence that suggests that veterinary professionals are sceptical when it comes to tools and decision-making criteria. This raises the question whether ethics tools can alleviate the difficulties associated with end-of-life decisions for veterinary professionals and other stakeholders involved and what it takes for them to do so.
    The workshop’s aim is to discuss the potential of ethics tools to simplify, structure and support end-of-life decision-making processes in practice – for veterinary professionals but also for other stakeholders.
    The starting point are the complexities in veterinary practice that go beyond the question of what is best for the animal patient. Is it helpful if the ethics tool arrives at the conclusion that one should act in the best interest of the patient if one is unable to do so (e.g. because someone else is the final decision maker)? What are other factors that need to be considered and how can they usefully be built into an ethics tool that is used by veterinarians and other stakeholders? This also links to the question of how much moral input (such as prioritising the animal’s best interest) an ethics tool can or should give in order to be useful in practice.
    The workshop will include the discussion of existing decision-making tools and use examples from companion animal and equine medicine related to end-of-life decisions to discuss ethics tools and their usefulness in practice.
    Key questions:

    1. What is necessary for an ethics tool to be useful for facilitating decision-making with multiple stakeholders in veterinary practice?
    2. What are obstacles for using ethics tools in practice?
    3. How much should the tool be built on fixed normative principles (e.g. “always prioritise patient interests”)?
    4. How much should the tool be an ethics tool, how much a decision-making tool?
    5. How can complex questions, e.g. concerning effects on the quality of life of a patient, be incorporated into such a tool?

    Key words: Ethics tool, Ethical tool, Decision-making tool, End-of-life decisions, Veterinary ethics, Equine veterinary medicine, Small animal medicine

    Target audience: Veterinarians facing difficult decisions in practice, Ethicists with experience/interest in supporting ethical decision-making, Animal owners, Anyone interested in the topic

    Organizers: Mariessa Long, Ellen Deelen

    Speakers: Ellen Deelen, Prof. Dr. Peter Kunzmann, Dr. Kerstin Herfen, Mariessa Long

  • Ethics in regulation: The challenges of including non-safety criteria in GM-regulation

    This workshop will explore the scope and status of ethics in assessment of GMOs (including genome editing), and the role of tools (such as the Ethical Matrix) in supporting policy-makers translating ethical criteria and requirements into law.  We discuss the demand for non-safety criteria in an international context and focus on the inclusion of such criteria in the Norwegian Gene Technology Act (GTA).

    The GTA applies a precautionary principle to the development and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It requires that sustainability, societal utility and ethical responsibility be part of the assessment. These non-safety criteria make the GTA unique in an international context. The discussion in this workshop will focus particularly on the ethics criterium.

    The background is that in 2019 the Norwegian Environmental Agency asked a committee of ethicists to make guidelines for the operationalization of the ethics criteria in the GTA. The approach they propose is intended to work as a tool for the execution of the ethics criteria in the processing of applications of GMO-cases falling under the GTA. In the guidelines, the Ethical Matrix is proposed as a key tool to aid a comprehensive ethical assessment, but it also includes a set of guiding questions that covers a broader range of ethical aspects (e.g. care, stewardship, integrity, virtues and practices).

    After reviewing the proposed guidelines the Norwegian Biotechnology Board (NBAB) has suggested several changes, among other things, to specify how an ethical assessment can be done in practice.  NBAB points out that there is a dilemma between making very specific procedures for the assessment, on the one hand, and making room for reflective ethical judgment, on the other. In more philosophical terms, this points to a dilemma between a principle-based assessment versus an ethical assessment that relies more on the assessors’ capacities for moral judgment (i.e. phronesis/practical wisdom).

    Key Questions:

    1. Can the application of tools such as the Ethical Matrix secure a fair, inclusive and open ethical assessment of GMOs?
    2. What does an ethical assessment require of the people involved in the administration of the GTA?

    Key words: GMO-regulation, Genome Editing, Non-safety criteria, Ethics, Ethical Matrix, Applied Ethics, Technology Assessment

    Target group: Researchers who develop or apply ethical tools; researchers working on the ethical issues raised by GMOs or gene editing; policy makers involved in GMO regulations; specialists in food and food biotechnology law.


    1. Trine Antonsen
    2. Kate Millar
    3. Bjørn Myskja
    4. Anne I. Myhr

    Commentator: Paul B. Thompson


    Workshop structure: 

    30 min The four speakers will give introductions on

    1. Trine Antonsen (corresponding chair): Ethical assessment of GMOs, the Norwegian Approach.
    2. Kate Millar: The Ethical Matrix and biotechnology assessment.
    3. Bjørn Myskja: The Guidelines for operationalization of the Ethics criterium.
    4. Anne I. Myhr: Rejecting GMO on basis on the Ethics criterium.

    15 min: Paul Thompson as commenting on the focus of this workshop from an US perspective. 

    35 min: Workshop participants will be asked work in groups on key questions on problems and good solutions for the ethical assessment of GMOs. Speakers will lead group discussion.

    10 min: Brief summary of major lessons from/points of contestation in current debate. Concluding remarks.


  • Isn’t exploitation bad enough? — On the normative dimensions of the exploitation of non-human parties

    The idea of this workshop is to discuss, from different perspectives and disciplines, the normative dimensions of the exploitation of non-human parties, particularly natural resources. The intention thereof is, first, to examine how a certain kind of technical/economic language shape our view and subsequent use of nature and, second, to discuss the moral status of the natural entities that sustain human life and, therefore, the normative implications this has for the human use of these entities. Therefore, the foci of this workshop will be on the alleged neutrality of certain technical/economic language, the value and moral status of life-sustaining resources, and the practical dilemmas that can arise from human claims on nature.
    With this in mind, the theme of this workshop revolves around a current historical moment in which the social, scientific and ethical difficulties brought about by climate change and environmental degradation force us to examine whether, and to what extent, concepts closely related to the use of nature for human benefit are part of the problem and, if so, how to rethink them. In this sense, this workshop is intended as a platform to discuss and explore the idea that our linguistic choices may already be value-laden in the sense that they already presuppose certain anthropocentric views of nature, which can have very problematic consequences for both humans and the entities that depend on their actions.
    As for the exploitation of natural resources, there is no general consensus that it is a bad thing, which implies that the concept of exploitation can indeed refer to normatively indifferent behavior in the world. Consequently, the theme of the workshop focuses on cases in which the exploitation of a natural resource may be problematic and, therefore, relevant in a normative sense. These cases are intended to challenge the descriptive understanding of the exploitation of non-human parties and open the door to an analysis of why it may already be morally wrong to use certain natural resources for the benefit of humans, even if that use does not threaten the depletion or overexploitation of the resources in question.

    Key Questions:

    • Exploiting someone seems to be unarguably wrong, but is it justifiable to say the same about a
      natural resource, for example, a forest, a water system, etc.? If exploiting someone seems to be
      unarguably wrong, shouldn’t the exploitation of other entities be subject to the same critical
    • Is the recent negative connotation about environmental and resource exploitation (specially
      within environmental ethics) justified, or is it that there are simply two ways of understanding
      exploitation: One that is inherently wrong, and one that is not?
    • How is the concept of exploitation used and understood in relation to different entities? Is the
      answer to this question influenced by the technical/economic language we use to refer to these
    • Could one consider that actions to exploit natural resources are at least partly wrong, since they
      reduce the value of those resources to the merely instrumental value they have for human
      beings? If so, couldn't one think of sufficiently valid instrumental reasons to exploit natural
      resources anyway?

    Keywords: Exploitation, Non-instrumental values, natural resources, environmental ethics, human-nature relations and conflicts.

    Target audience: Philosophers, Ethicists, Economists, Policy-Makers, Agricultural Scientists, Geographers, etc.

    Corresponding chair: Sarah Espinosa,

    Chair: Katharina Dieck

    Speakers: Mickey Gjerris, Jes Lynning Harfeld, Sarah Espinosa

  • Preparing for Agriculture 4.0: what skills and ethical tools do we need?

    Disruptive technological changes are emerging in the field of agriculture. Technologies of different kinds, from genetically modified micro-organisms, to robots, and digital twins, will change practices of food production with the promise of sustainability for food production. We can expect disruptive technologies to exacerbate existing ethical issues, like food justice, or labour displacement. These disruptions will also affect our ability to evaluate the ethical implications of the developments we will witness. They might also create situations that are counter-intuitive. We will use the workshop to map old and new issues of the Fourth Agricultural Revolution.

    A first round of presentation will help identify the tensions and the professionals that will find themselves in potentially dilemmatic situations with potentially counter intuitive actions. In this workshop, a presentation on technologies for the bioeconomy, and on farms, for crops and animals will set the stage for the discussion.

    Together with participants, we will look to discuss the following questions:


    • How can we make space to deal with ethical issues differently? 
    • How can we think of ethical tools to ameliorate ethical concerns, not compound them? 
    • What skills are needed to do so?
    • What kinds of ethical tools and set of skills can we define so that new technologies can be used for good? 
    • How can these findings be shared with practitioners?

    In this workshop, we showcase leading work in the teaching engineering ethics by sharing the experience of our speakers. We will also invite participants to share their concerns and experiences with students, or practitioners in enabling them to make ethical decisions about technologies.


    Zoë Robaey (WUR) and Per Sandin (SLU)


    Lotte Asveld (TU Delft)

    David Christian Rose (University of Reading)

    Beth Ventura (University of Minnesota)

Workshop session 2 (16:30 - 18:00) 
  • I know what’s best for you!? Opening the Black box ‘Best Interest Principle’ in Small Animal Practice

    Small animal veterinarians are confronted with a decisive challenge in their work life: Their patients cannot verbalize their interests with respect to their future perspectives on possible treatments or their death. Thereby, the ‘Best Interest Principle’ (BIP) has been established as a widely accepted concept that aims to bring ‘patient’s presumed interests’ into veterinary decision-making processes. This concept encompasses animal’s health-related interests and welfare aspects which serve as basis to not only medically but also ethically justify veterinarian’s decisions and actions. Thereby, current debates in the field of veterinary ethics mainly discuss the role of the BIP within clinical decision-making processes. For instance, empirical investigations found that factors such as client’s financial limitations or strong emotional bonds between the client and the animal can challenge veterinarians to follow the BIP during clinical decision-making processes. In addition to that, theoretical investigations make the normative claim that veterinarians should give the BIP primary allegiance within decision-making processes. However, the fact that the best interest of the individual patient needs to be conceptualized by veterinarians before they can bring it into decision-making remains pretty much untouched in current debates – theoretically and empirically. Consequently, the BIP in veterinary practice appears rather as a ‘black box’ without having information on its conceptualization.


    The aims of this interdisciplinary and interactive workshop are to shed light on the BIP in small animal practice by reflecting on:

    I) properties, attributes and dimensions that define the BIP in small animal practice

    II) in what ways can the BIP be used to understand what ‘is going on’ in the veterinary profession

    III) and whether, a concept needs to or can be modified or adopted in its place, given the context in which it is used.


    Key questions:

    1. What are the properties, attributes and dimensions of the concept of the BIP? And, are they equally relevant or are some of them more relevant than other?
    2. What are the consequences of the use of the BIP in small animal practice?
    1. What functions does the concept of the BIP fulfil in theory and practice?


    Key words: Best interest principle; Concepts in veterinary ethics; Small Animal Practice; Veterinary medical ethics

    Target group: Veterinarians; Social Scientists/Philosophers/Ethicists who have experiences and/or are interested in this topic; Anyone who is interested in this topic

    Organizers: Svenja Springer and S. Axiak Flammer

  • Approaches to food justice and their role in transformative food research

    The concept of food justice gained traction in the last ten years out of concern for inequality of food system workers. From there, its scope broadened to encompass many different topics, including the motivations and strategies of social movements, the social and ecological effects of alternative food practices, or the impacts of unequal access to food (Glennie and Hope Alkon 2018)*. Much potential for the use of the concept of food justice is also seen in scholarship and practice linked to agroecological and food sovereignty, to principles for food system transformation, or to the integration of sustainability, justice and health issues (ibid). Furthermore, food justice is defined and applied differently in different areas of the world and in different epistemological communities.

    In this workshop session, we would like to gather a group of scholars who work in different transformative food research projects and regions of the world. They engage in various thematic issues and use the concept of food justice in different ways. The objective is an exchange about different epistemological understandings of food justice and its application in different research projects. The session will start with a keynote input on the concept of food justice, its dimensions and applications. The keynote will be followed by several inputs from food research projects that apply the concept. In the second half of the session, we will discuss the following key questions together with the speakers and the audience.

    * Charlotte Glennie and Alison Hope Alkon 2018 Environ. Res. Lett.13 073003


    Key questions:

    1. How do you define food justice in your work?
    2. How do you approach food justice in your work?
    3. What does it mean to implement food justice in certain areas and universally while treating food as a human right and not as a commodity?

    Key words: food justice, transformative food research, different epistemological understandings, critical and innovative approaches

    Target group: scholars from food justice, food sustainability, food transition and transformation, and trade studies, who are interested in discussing about critical and innovative approaches.

    Organizers: Theresa Tribaldos (corresponding), Johanna Jacobi, Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel

    Speakers: Renata Campos Motta, Johanna Jacobi, Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel, Teea Kortetmäki, Renato Maluf.

  • Teaching Ethics to Science and Veterinary Students: Sharing tools and strategies in Covid-times

    Teaching (bio)ethics to non-philosophy students is immensely rewarding but it can also be quite challenging at times. Ethics lecturers often have to deal with difficult side-constraints, such as having too little time allocated for their subject teaching, having to teach students too early in their study programme, teaching students who do not initially see the relevance of ethics, being asked by faculty to apply a narrow definition of what ethics means (only research integrity for example), and in some situations find themselves working with non-supportive science and clinical colleagues. In Covid-19 times, all university teachers face additional challenges of having to change their teaching and build new blended teaching content which must be delivered online. With this workshop we want to create a space to discuss our joys but also our challenges, with the aim of building a (bio)ethics community of practice in order to support each other in facing these old and new challenges. 

    This workshop will consist of three parts: (1) good and bad experiences with teaching in Covid-times (2) sharing teaching tools and approaches; (3) sharing teaching strategies.

    Several experienced lecturers will do a brief ‘Show & Tell’ presentation in order to stimulate discussion and to help build an active community. The session will be structured into three components, with two people doing a five-minute presentation and one person facilitating the discussion. Our ultimate aim is to find a format for sharing materials and experiences within the EurSafe community, for example through a special section in the journal Food Ethics.

    Facilitators: Kate Millar, Bernice Bovenkerk, Zoë Robaey

    Presenters: Franck Meijboom, Helena Röcklinsberg, Jes Harfeld, Jessica Duncan, Leire Escajedo, and Raymond Anthony.

  • Food policy councils, democracy and participation

    Food democracy and the right of all citizens to participate in the food system are seen as key to achieve
    more sustainable food systems (e.g. Renting et al., 2012). Food policy councils are one way of engaging
    society in a participatory process and thereby democratizing the food system.

    “Food policy councils (FPCs) are an embodiment of food democracy, providing a space
    for community members, professionals, and government to learn together, deliberate,
    and collectively devise place-based strategies to address complex food systems issues.
    These collaborative governance networks can be considered a transitional stage in the
    democratic process, an intermediary institution that coordinates interests not typically
    present in food policymaking.” Bassarab et al. 2019: 32

    The democratic functioning of FPCs is an issue of justice and ethics. Beyond common interests, the actors
    can nourish their commitment with a common utopia. Democracy, like justice, is always a horizon of
    inspiration that is concretely difficult to reach and yet a guideline. The search for concrete forms of
    democracy implies reflection on the place of each person in the FPC, its governance, the taking into
    account of each person's voice and expertise, networks, and forms of cooperation with external actors
    (city, region, institutional actors, associations (as well of people in precarious situations), local businesses
    and industrial groups). The differences in power, purpose and mode of action of these partners raise the
    question of the possibilities of a multi-stakeholder dialogue, protecting the democratic functioning of the
    Several food policy councils have emerged in Switzerland and Germany in the last years. In France this
    space has to some extend be taken by PAT (Projet Alimentaire Territorial). The aim of this workshop is to
    discuss approaches to food democracy through the prism of initiatives in those countries and beyond.
    We want to gather researchers and activists involved in food policy councils and discuss the way that
    those councils enhance the participation of a broader public in the co-construction of the food systems
    and food democracy. In the sessions reflections of researchers are combined with inputs by activists,
    before engaging in an open discussion.

    Key questions:

    • How do FPCs contribute to democracy in their functioning and their interaction with society?
      What is the place of democracy, ethics and justice in the narratives of FPC?
      • What governance of FPC? Whose voices are heard in the FPC?
      • What are the rules that FPCs set for themselves in their internal operations and in their
        interaction with external actors?
      • What communication ethics do the FPCs develop to protect their ideal internally and their
        links with their partners?
    • How are food policy councils governed? Do they facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue between
      local actors? Are they partners from cities? Can their action be considered as a form of lobbying?
    • Why do people get involved in FPCs? How do FPCs create lasting relationships? How does the FPC
      develop an identity, a story?
    • How can researchers contribute to reflect on these questions, to encourage exchange between
      FPCs on their practices? What are possible postures and actions of the researcher? (active
      participation, networking with relevant actors, tools of reflections for multi-stakeholder dialogue,
      assessments of the impact of FPCs,...)

    Target group:

    civil society and food policy councils; researchers engaged with the topic, citizens, policy
    makers, professionals of the agro/food sector

    Workshop structure:

    40min Introduction

    • Introduction to food democracy (Laurence Granchamp, Université Strasbourg)
    • Multistakeholder Dialogue (Lorenzo Todorow, UCL School of Management)
    • Food Democracy and Participation in the PAT (Sophie Michel, EM Business School of
      Management / University of Strasbourg)

    20min Feedback from Other Food Policy Councils

    • Germany
    • Switzerland
    • Worldwide

    30min Open discussion

    Organizers (alphabetical): Lena Bloemertz, Renaud Defiebre, Laurence Granchamp, Cyril Villet