Double standard prevails
Animal producers often talk about the animals they raise and slaughter for food as if the animals themselves did not exist. Either that or they claim that their animals are happy and healthy, even when the evidence shows otherwise.
A double standard prevails. If animal advocates say, for example, that a hen confined in a battery cage is miserable, we’re accused of anthropomorphism – of attributing human feelings to chickens – but if egg producers say the hen is happy, the claim is accepted as "science."
In reality, animal producers may be more justly accused of anthropomorphism than animal advocates, if, by this word, it means the attribution of human feelings to other species in order to justify exploiting them.
For example, in a recent article in Feedstuffs (July 18), Trent Loos writes that if today’s "food" animals could speak, "I am sure they, too, would tell you of the pride they feel about their role in the cycle of life." You can’t get more anthropomorphic than that.
Loos said he doesn’t support "humane" animal handling of any kind because "humane" means "man-like." I assume he means that the term is "anthropomorphic," but you can’t have it both ways. If animal producers are going to ridicule animal advocates for anthropomorphically concluding that a miserable-looking animal is suffering, they can’t turn around and anthropomorphically assert that this same animal (or any animal) is a "happy" and "proud" extension of themselves.
In any case, there is ample evidence that the claims and concerns of animal advocates are warranted. Poultry specialist Ian Duncan of the University of Guelph (Ontario) said, for example, chickens and turkeys bred for meat "represent welfare problems on a huge scale," and poultry specialist Joy Mench of the University of California-Davis pointed out that caged hens "develop osteoporosis because they get no exercise and because their limited calcium is mobilized for constant eggshell formation instead of bones." (Farmed Animal Well-Being Conference, University of California-Davis, June 2001).
Contrary to what animal producers like Loos may say, modern animal husbandry standards do not provide "optimal" daily living conditions for animals. As a result, millions of animals are suffering all the time. Undercover investigations, farmed animal sanctuaries (where we see rescued farmed animals "before" and "after") and agribusiness scientific and trade publications all point to this conclusion.
Dr Karen Davis
United Poultry Concerns
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.|
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150