United Poultry Concerns September 20, 2002
UPC Evaluation of Future Trends In Animal Agriculture Symposium
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 the One day Symposium:


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 agriculture.

Please take a moment to provide your opinion of the value of this symposium.

Use a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being low value and 5 being extremely high value.

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 taking place.

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 standards?

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
FAX: 757-678-5070

(UPC Evaluation of Future Trends In Animal Agriculture Symposium)

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