In this article, the author discusses the fluid, often contradictory classifications that are applied to animals in urban spaces, focusing on how animal-related laws express perceptions and attitudes. Whether an animal species is perceived as in need of protection from humans, valuable to humans, or a threat to humans may depend on its origins, its ancestors, local variations in historical practices and policies, how freedom of religion and speech are weighted against humane concerns, and many other shifting and sometimes arbitrary factors.
A Slaughterhouse Nightmare: Psychological Harm Suffered by Slaughterhouse Employees and the Possibility of Redress through...Submitted on Jan 27, 2014 (Original item from 2008) Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection | Vegetarianism and Veganism
This article considers previously published studies and personal accounts that indicate employment in slaughterhouses is psychologically harmful to workers, and calls for more direct research on the subject. The author also discusses existing forms of redress for traumatized workers, evaluates their efficacy, and advocates the reclassification of slaughterhouse employment as ultrahazardous through tort action as a means to hold meat production companies more accountable for their slaughter practices.
Urban Livestock Ownership, Management, and Regulation in the United States: An Exploratory Survey and Research AgendaSubmitted on Jan 20, 2014 (Original item from 2014) Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
It is becoming increasingly common for individuals to have “urban livestock,” i.e., farmed animals such as chickens, rabbits, bees, and goats who are kept in a municipal setting. Using an online survey, this study examined the motivations and management practices of those who keep these animals and compared the findings with existing municipal regulations on “backyard chickens.” Topics investigated include: motivations for keeping farmed animals; the number and species kept; the proximity of the animals to dwellings and property lines; space allocations; intentions to use animals for meat; sanitation; the impact on neighbors; slaughter practices; and the desire to share, sell, or barter animal products.
Growing Meat in Laboratories: The Promise, Ontology, and Ethical Boundary-Work of Using Muscle Cells to Make FoodSubmitted on Jan 15, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Advocacy Strategies | Animal Experimentation | Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection | Vegetarianism and Veganism
This philosophical essay discusses the ethical framework in which scientists and animal advocates regard current research into, and the potential development of, in vitro meat (IVM) production. The author incorporates quotes from interviews with 39 individuals who were scientists involved in IVM-related research or advocates who have supported IVM technology. While most interviewees awarded some degree of preferability to IVM production over current factory farming practices, their motivations for being involved in this area varied. The author concludes that ethical boundary-work concerning IVM production is complex and under development, as is the IVM research itself.
This study explored which factors influence elected representatives when they vote on farm animal welfare laws. The author analyzed 216 state legislators’ votes on two farm animal welfare bills: 1) Michigan’s HB 5127 (2009), which bans tethering and confining pregnant pigs, veal calves, and egg-laying hens); and 2) Illinois’s HB 1711 (2007), which bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The results showed that representatives’ personal and representational connections with agriculture were significant, but political party was the strongest factor explaining legislators’ votes, with Democrats much more likely than Republicans to support farm animal welfare bills.
This study used focus groups to explore consumer attitudes toward kosher products and beliefs regarding religious slaughter practices. The focus groups were conducted in Europe and Israel with Jewish adults who consumed kosher food at least once per week. Although it was considered an important religious obligation, participants exhibited a low level of commitment to eating kosher foods, citing low availability and high cost. Participants also believed that kosher slaughter was a more humane form of slaughter and suspected anti-Semitism as the motivation for attempts to impose stunning requirements.
This article addresses the emotionality of fish, drawing upon literature from psychology, neurology and marine biology. The author discusses the definition, function, and measurement of emotion in animals and concludes that emotions in fish can be inferred, both by the similarity of their responses to those of other emotional animals, and by the functional and evolutionary advantages that emotions confer.
This study calculates, for the first time, the human trophic level using data for 176 countries from the Food and Agricultural Organization from 1961 to 2009. The researchers used these levels, which are a measure of diet composition, to position humans in the context of the food web. Our trophic level showed that we are closer to herbivores than carnivores; however, this value has increased over time, which the researchers say is consistent with the global trend away from plant-based diets toward diets higher in meat and dairy. The study showed that this pattern is mainly driven by China and India where the human trophic levels are on the rise in conjunction with their increased preference for meat. The study also pointed to a strong link between socio-economic and environmental indicators and global dietary trends.
Communicating the Environmental Impact of Meat Production: Challenges in the Development of a Swedish Meat GuideSubmitted on Dec 05, 2013 (Original item from 2013) Advocacy Strategies | Diet and Nutrition | Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
This article examines a consumer guide that was developed to assist Swedish consumers and food professionals to make less environmentally harmful meat choices. The guide rates meat products according to a red/yellow/green (traffic light) system and presents information on carbon footprints, biodiversity, use of pesticides, and animal welfare. The paper describes how the guide was designed, discusses the challenge of relaying complex environmental information to consumers in an understandable way, and highlights future areas for research.
Sexualized Violence and the Gendered Commodification of the Animal Body in Pacific Northwest US Dairy ProductionSubmitted on Nov 29, 2013 (Original item from 2013) Farmed Animals | General Animal Protection
This article examines the sexually violent commodification of female and male cows in the U.S. dairy industry. The author outlines the life of cows, bulls, and calves in the Pacific Northwest dairy industry using textual analysis and nine months of fieldwork at sanctuaries, farms, auction yards, a state fair, and the World Dairy Expo. The article reveals that animals are subjected to routinized forms of violence in everyday agricultural practice, which is highly sexualized and perpetuated by the commodification of their productive and reproductive capacities.
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