Demand for microsystems in the food sector


Ethical weighing of interests

1) The interests of microsystem developers and food processors lie in autonomy to choose between different (relevant) systems, the responsibility to apply these responsibly, and the possibility to reap the benefits in improved production. They require however, a clear regulatory frame concerning allowable safety issues (safety of workers).

2) Consumer interest should be weighed against consumer autonomy to choose, which can be facilitated by transparency about the application of microsystems, and having access to risk information, and reap relevant end-user benefits. If food microsystems are applied to the packaging stage, additional weighing of consumer interests is required, in particular in relation to autonomy through communication about the presence of such systems in the packaging, and non-malfeasance by looking at privacy risk.

3) The environment and future generations should not be worsened by introduction of microsystems: potential risks to the environment and future generations should be mapped into detail, and regulations should weigh these risks against benefits compared to current practice, ensuring that the replacement of current practice does not result in additional risks without sufficient benefits for the environment and future generations.

4) For the environment the effects of product waste and disposal into nature should be considered and weighed against the current situation. For future generations and long term effects, bio accumulation of particles could require consideration.

5) In the case of microsystem used in packaging, the additional factor of consumer disposal of packages comes into play beyond the previous issues.


Further reading
D3.3 Report on ethical issues regarding microsystems in food (main author: Wageningen University)
logo pdf Ethical issues regarding microsystems in food

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