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Farmed Animals

 

Henry Bergh, the Unlikely Champion of Animals

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What prompted this son of wealth, with little history of persistent effort or particular accomplishments, to suddenly become a hands-on, full-time animal advocate when he was well into his 50s? A lot of people have wondered, including those who knew him at the time. The mystery is intensified when we read that the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals didn’t actually like animals!


Do Fish Perceive Anaesthetics as Aversive?

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The use of fish as a substitute for mammals in laboratories has skyrocketed into the millions. Little research has been done on the effects of anesthetics that are used on fish during surgical procedures and euthanasia. This study tested nine anesthetics on Danio zebrafish for reactions that indicated discomfort, distress or pain. Seven of the anesthetics, including two of the most widely used, caused aversive reactions. The authors conclude that they are inhumane, and should be discontinued. They also call for similar tests for other types of fish, since reactions can vary from species to species.

Additional Foraging Elements Reduce Abnormal Behaviour – Fur-Chewing and Stereotypic Behaviour – in Farmed Mink (Neovison vison)

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A white mink looks out through the wire grid of a dirty cageThe authors of this Danish study theorized that hunting and chewing behaviors are inherent to minks, and are insufficiently expressed in a farm environment, leading to undesirable stress-related behaviors. They provided chewing ropes, chewier feed, both, or neither to 4 groups of 50 minks each. Fur-chewing was reduced by either chewing ropes or chewier feed. Pacing was reduced only by chewier feed. The authors suggest several possible reasons for these results and call for further research to better understand mink behavior and needs.


United States v. Stevens: Win, Loss, or Draw for Animals?

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law book with scales of justice and gavel In 1999, a law against depictions of animal cruelty was enacted to criminalize fetish videos of women trampling small animals to death ("crush videos"). When it was applied in a case of dog-fighting videos (U.S. v. Stevens), the law was struck down for being overly broad, and a narrower law was enacted. The author analyzes underlying legal issues, especially whether animal protection can override free speech rights. Since the new law specifies a state interest in extreme cases of animal cruelty, the author argues that animal protection law was ultimately advanced due to the Stevens case, even though the conviction was thrown out.

Veganomics Review: Takeaways for Farmed Animal Advocates

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HRC reviews “Veganomics: The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians, from the Breakfast Table to the Bedroom” by Nick Cooney. We offer a look at the book’s topics, its key facts and figures, its recommendations for improving vegetarian advocacy, and what makes it an especially novel offering for the animal protection movement.



Attitudes of Canadian Citizens Toward Farm Animal Welfare: A Qualitative Study

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This study was conducted to lay groundwork for constructive collaboration on animal welfare between farm animal producers and non-producers. Participants were intensively interviewed about their ideals, conceptions and values about farm animal living conditions. Most preferred an environment that allowed animals to move freely and behave normally, and for animals to be handled with respect and without pain. Many also were sympathetic to economic pressures on farmers, felt that awareness of current farming practices was inadequate, and believed consumers undervalue the sacrifice of animal lives because animal food products are under-priced.

Meat Moderation: A Challenge for Government and Civil Society

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In 2009 the Belgian city of Ghent became the first in the world to officially encourage citizens to have one meat-free day per week; the result of a successful partnership between the NGO Ethical Vegetarian Alternative and local government. This paper outlines the main principles behind the campaign, which has resulted in around 25% of the population participating at least several times per month. A strong case is made for the role of government in encouraging citizens to benefit the environment, human health and animal welfare by consuming fewer animal products. Regulation, subsidization, taxation and choice architecture are mentioned as some of the methods governments could use to achieve this.

Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia

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Despite the fact that the majority of East Asians are lactose intolerant, and that cows and feed-grains developed elsewhere do poorly in the tropics of south and southeastern Asia, Western corporate investors are doing their best to promote "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations" (CAFOs) to Asian governments as cleaner, faster and cheaper than traditional methods of farming. This policy paper examines the displacement of local economies, environmental impacts, health hazards, and animal welfare concerns raised by the rapid rise of dairy factory farming in Asia, and proposes a number of policy points through which governments may address these issues.

Nonhuman Animal Rights, Alternative Food Systems, and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

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In response to consumer concern about treatment of animals in the food industry, an increasing range of ‘humanely produced’ animal products have become available, often with ‘humane certified’ labels approved by animal advocacy groups. This paper looks at the issue from an abolitionist viewpoint and proposes that it commodifies ‘humaneness’ and does not benefit animals as the narrative implies. The author argues that not only do welfare problems persist even within humane certified operations, but also that ‘higher welfare’ labels make people feel more comfortable about consuming animal products, and thus may incentivize their consumption and help entrench morally problematic systems.

The involvement of the professionalized animal welfare movement in advocating these reforms and collaborating with industry on values-based labeling is criticized for legitimizing the continued exploitation of animals, while failing to address the underlying oppressive structures that allow animals to be viewed as commodities in the first place. The author suggests that the professionalization of animal advocacy groups often entails a compromise of movement goals and leads to them working to reform the structure rather than dismantle it. As a result, the fundamental moral issue of exploiting and killing other animals remains largely unexamined. As an alternative to this, abolitionism calls for a rejection of the property-status of animals, a rejection of speciesism and equal consideration for animals, with veganism as a necessary baseline. The abolitionist framework opposes the promotion of more ‘humane’ systems of animal production, arguing that it is inconsistent to strive for an end to animal suffering while continuing to consume them, and advocates change through a radical grassroots vegan movement.

Eating Animals at the Zoo

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This paper critiques the conflicting conceptualizations of animal welfare that are expressed by zoos and aquaria when they serve animal products at onsite restaurants. The authors begin by surveying the goals and values of in the U.S. and E.U., and find that animal welfare is an important value of most zoos and aquaria, even when it is not made explicit. When they examined the online menus of 55 zoos, all were based on meat, with few vegetarian or vegan options, and most meat came from conventionally (factory) farmed sources. Meat provided to zoo animals was also from conventionally farmed sources, and animals purchased as live food for zoo animals were handled with little concern for their welfare. The authors conclude that these practices are inconsistent with the animal welfare mission of zoos and aquaria, and call upon them to apply animal welfare values to all animals that come within the sphere of their operations.

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