Ethical Principles for Infant and Young Child Nutrition

Researchers at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health in Toronto have recently published a paper advancing ethical principles for the important topic of child nutrition.

Here’s the paper, by Jerome Amir Singh, Abdallah S Daar, and Peter A Singer: “Shared Principles of Ethics for Infant and Young Child Nutrition in the Developing World”


The defining event in the area of infant feeding is the aggressive marketing of infant formula in the developing world by transnational companies in the 1970s. This practice shattered the trust of the global health community in the private sector, culminated in a global boycott of Nestle products and has extended to distrust of all commercial efforts to improve infant and young child nutrition. The lack of trust is a key barrier along the critical path to optimal infant and young child nutrition in the developing world.

To begin to bridge this gap in trust, we developed a set of shared principles based on the following ideals: Integrity; Solidarity; Justice; Equality; Partnership, cooperation, coordination, and communication; Responsible Activity; Sustainability; Transparency; Private enterprise and scale-up; and Fair trading and consumer choice. We hope these principles can serve as a platform on which various parties in the in the infant and young child nutrition arena, can begin a process of authentic trust-building that will ultimately result in coordinated efforts amongst parties.

A set of shared principles of ethics for infant and young child nutrition in the developing world could catalyze the scale-up of low cost, high quality, complementary foods for infants and young children, and eventually contribute to the eradication of infant and child malnutrition in the developing world….

I think the last 2 principles they propose — Private enterprise and scale-up; and Fair trading and consumer choice — are particularly interesting and worthy of discussion.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.