20 September 2002 |
Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
Ph: 757-678-7875; fax: 5070
On behalf of United Poultry Concerns, I am submitting my evaluation of
One day Symposium:
FUTURE TRENDS IN ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
STANDARDS FOR FOOD ANIMAL PRODUCTION:
STATUS, WELL-BEING, AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Jefferson Auditorium, South Agriculture Building, Washington DC
Primary Audience: Congressional staffers and agency decision makers;
open to the public
About the Future Trends in Animal Agriculture (FTAA) organization: The
FTAA organizing committee is composed of representatives from several
animal welfare and industry organizations, universities, and USDA/CSREES.
Mission: The FTAA will foster and enhance balanced and enlightened
public dialogue on topics related to the nature and future of animal
Please take a moment to provide your opinion of the value of this
Use a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being low value and 5 being extremely high
1. Did the symposium provide a good balance of speakers?
Karen Davis: I give it a 3. The symposium was understandably dominated
by agribusiness interests including the American Veterinary Medical
Association, with a smaller-sized counterbalance of "sustainable animal
agriculture" representatives. The symposium did not include any
panelists from any animal rights organizations; it did not include any
panelists from any farmed animal sanctuaries to share our observations
and experiences. Therefore the symposium did not provide a good balance
of speakers. It did not provide a balance of shared information,
knowledge, and concerns. All of the speakers, including the welfarists,
supported animal exploitation. This was unfortunate, because, just as
animal rights advocates can become better informed by hearing what
animal agriculturists have to say, so animal agriculturists can benefit
from hearing what animal rights advocates have to say. Instead of being
designed to "foster and enhance balanced and enlightened public
dialogue," the symposium was arranged to prevent any such dialogue for
2. Was the information helpful in understanding the complexity of the
standards and guidelines issues?
Karen Davis: I give it a 4. The information was particularly helpful in
underscoring the politics and emotional components of the standards and
guidelines issues. The agribusiness panelists showed that a true concern
for animals and animal well-being conflicts with agribusiness goals and
with the panelists' own emotional investment in using and controlling
animals and making money. There are logistical and financial
complexities and difficulties in changing from one way of doing business
to another, but what the symposium brought out most vividly was the
industry's lack of sympathy for animals and the fact that it is
responding not to ethics or animal suffering but to external pressures.
3. The presentations were acceptable but did not provide enough
information? Would a follow-up symposium dedicated to specific issues be
helpful? Please comment.
Karen Davis: I give it a 2. It is good that the Proceedings were made
available to the attendees at the beginning of the symposium and that we
have the bulk of what was orally presented in writing along with useful
contact information. The presentations were informative not only as to
content, including what was omitted, but also as to attitudes. However,
I cannot call the presentations "acceptable," and this applies to the
symposium as a whole. We sat through the sessions in a dark, windowless
auditorium. The cold, hard attitude of the majority of the panelists,
with their dreary, cynical litany about "science-based" this and
"science-based" that, was consistent with the symposium's physical
environment, and thus reinforced one's sense of the cold, hard, dark,
windowless, joyless world in which the animals on whom agribusiness is
built are condemned to live and die.
The symposium was organized to discourage and prevent dialogue and
discussion. This was the third time in a year that I've attended an
industry-dominated discussion/symposium in which members of the audience
were prevented from asking questions in their own voices but were forced
to formulate questions on pieces of paper to be read aloud by a
moderator stumbling over the questions composed in the dark room while
panelists were speaking. This is clearly an exercise in audience control
designed to diminish the effect of the questions being raised and to
establish an atmosphere of bureaucratic impersonality, anonymity,
sterility, and control.
This experience was unacceptable, but it was also useful, as it
reinforces one's realization of the situation the animals are in. The
USDA administrator who moderated the morning session stumbled over
people's questions, read them in a lackluster manner, garbling and
gutting them. Those who posed the questions were not permitted to
clarify or correct the reading of their own questions. This format
should not be repeated.
At this point I draw attention to a question I raised (on paper) during
the afternoon session. It was directed to Barbara P. Glenn, who spoke on
behalf of the Federation of Animal Science Societies. I addressed this
statement by her: "Over 40 scientist experts (Ph.D.'s and veterinarians)
have been developing criteria for on-farm animal care, and a process for
evaluation, for nine different species. The species include: beef,
broilers, dairy, ducks, layers, sheep, swine, turkeys, and veal." My
question was: "Do you think that referring to living animals and animal
species as dead flesh, as a "beef," a 'broiler," a "veal," could affect
your perception of and sensitivity to the living animals?" Barbara Glenn
either didn't understand the question (which was read to her by the
moderator) or she intentionally ignored it. She said something like "we
think it's important for people to know where their food comes from."
Next question. This exemplifies the travesty of the "dialogue" idea and
shows the extent to which the agribusiness speakers were relieved of
accountability and coddled by the symposium organizers.
The chanted phrase "science based" has nothing to do with science or
animal welfare. It's tribal language, politics. If they had a true
interest in scientific accuracy, scientists and their adherents would
say "humans and other animals," not "humans and animals." They would not
call an animal a "veal," a 'broiler," or a "beef." They would refer to
individual animals as "he" and "she" instead of "it." They wouldn't
pretend that the body of animal welfare science doesn't matter or
doesn't exist. We understand that the point of this pretensive and
pretentious vocabulary is to conceptually reduce animals to lifeless,
inert material and to disengage us from their lives.
If there is to be a follow-up symposium, educated people, including
myself, who read the literature and run farmed animal sanctuaries,
should constitute a panel among the others. We, too, have important
knowledge to share. Members of the audience, of whatever viewpoint,
should be encouraged to ask the speakers any relevant questions they
wish, at the microphone, in their own voices.
4. What role should USDA have in establishing and promoting the use of
Karen Davis: I haven't decided. USDA/APHIS dissolved the Farm Animal
Well-Being Task Group this year. A big question, though, that is not on
the Evaluation Form, concerns the ethical and logical appropriateness of
humane societies and animal welfare societies working not only to reduce
animal suffering and abuse but "to facilitate genuine collaboration and
the ability of farmers to produce food for society" by assisting these
inherently violent animal exploitation industries.
Thank you for the opportunity to attend and evaluate the symposium.
Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the
compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more
information, go to www.UPC-online.org.
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.|
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
(UPC Evaluation of Future Trends In Animal Agriculture Symposium)