Legal obligation and moral responsibility

Par Sun Juanjuan

Recommened reading: Wen Jiabao criticized milk Clenbuteral: a serious moral decline

Hunted by food safety issues one after another, such as clenbuterol tainted sausage, sulfur smoked ginger, dyed steam bread recently, the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao pointed out that the ongoing food safety issues happened in China has revealed the moral problem that the moral decline has reached the point of how serious.

After amazing economic development, the Chinese people are getting richer and richer in the material, yet, our spiritual development did not come together with such material development. On the contrary, it keeps decline as worried by our premier. Taking the food adulteration as an example, there are the food business men who add not only the inferior ingredients but also hazardous ingredients into food. There are the official inspectors who are supposed to ensure food safety in the side of consumers but ignore their responsibilities and let the unsafe food come into market. And there are also experts who defend from professional view of point for the foods which may even have not been gone through safety assessment as well as stars who perform the advertisement for those foods. All of those behaviors have one thing in common, namely money orientation.

As a matter of fact, making money itself is not a thing which should be condemned. As far as development is concerned, the significance of the economic development is beyond question. However, such development at the cost of environment, safety like human health and even lives is not sustainable. As a thought here, if we are keeping in this way, what will be left for our next next next… generation? How about we make our fortune not only based on the natural sacrifice but also human being like the people died in the mining work or caused by poised food?

Certainly, there have been the laws already which play the role to compel people that they should bear corresponding legal obligations. As prescribed by The Chinese Food Safety Law in the legal liabilities, for the producers who produce foods which do not conform to the food safety standards, he should pay for the compensation which is equal to ten times of the purchase price. For the officials who work in the department of health administration, agricultural administration, quality supervision, administration of industry and commerce, and food and drug supervision and management and other administrative departments at the country level or above, he should be punished by demerit or demotion if they violate the provision of this law and fail to perform their functions. If such violation has led to serious consequences then punishments of removal or dismissal shall be imposed and the principal officer shall resign. And even for the deception in the advertisement, the people who plays the role of representation should be imposed the punishment according to the Advertising law.

Despite the legal provisions, people still go for violation by thinking they may get away with legal punishment. Can legally binding food safety regulation go to change it totally? Maybe it can as long as the food safety regulation can be well legislated and implemented. As the experience in the history of the food safety regulation in the U.S.A., back to the early 1900s, the problems of food adulteration were as awful as described in the novel, The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair. With the legal regulation started by the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, the food situation changed to be better.

Admittedly, the deterrence from the law can be effective, yet, the consciousness from morality can be better. Sometimes, the moral responsibility is too strict to be followed by every one. But when it comes to food, some moral responsibilities are essential since it directly links to our life. Only with those moral responsibilities for self discipline can stop the food safety issues from the very beginning. Let fresh our memory for two basic ones and keep them in our mind. Then just do it by yourself and from very small things.

己所不欲勿施于人

Don’t do it: please do not impose others to do the things that you do not want to do.

It is said that the people who produce the food by adulteration will never eat the food and just send them faraway. Such as the farmers will have tow farmlands, one is for others in which the chemical substances like fertilizer or the pesticides are used in a great number of quantities. And the other is for themselves in which they would produce food in a safe way.  All these malpractices are against such basic respect.

君子爱财取之有道

Do it: The noble man makes money in a right way.

Food is a tool for living but also for making money. You can take advantage of the food for your fortune marking, such as the investment of the agricultural production by following Good Agriculture Practice or in the food company which introduce the HACCP system or produce according to Good Manufacture Practice.

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Doctorante - Programme Lascaux
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Une réponse à Legal obligation and moral responsibility

  1. François Collart Dutilleul dit :

    Cet intéressant exemple nous montre de près (proximité liée à l’auteur) l’un des problèmes auxquels, après l’Europe et les E-U, la Chine est confrontée. Cet exemple et la manière dont il est relaté montre aussi que le droit n’a sans doute pas la même fonction en Chine et en Europe.
    S’il y a un problème d’inefficacité du droit, nous devons l’analyser, en voir les causes et essayer d’y remédier par les moyens du droit. Nous pouvons utiliser la morale (mais pas seulement) pour définir les "valeurs" que nous voulons faire prévaloir dans la société. Mais, dans la conception occidentale de la démocratie, c’est le droit qui doit être le véhicule privilégié de ces valeurs, même s’il faut pour cela imaginer un droit de l’incitation ou de l’exemplarité à côté d’un droit de la contrainte.

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